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April 16, 2016



Although House members still don't know how much they'll have to spend, appropriators in both chambers are moving forward swiftly with fiscal 2017 spending bills. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) wants his panel to finish all 12 bills by late June, he told CQ, which predicts a "sprint" through mid-summer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he's “prepared to devote up to 12 weeks” to appropriations on the Senate floor. The first bill hits the Senate floor next week, a record early start. While Senate appropriators divvied up their allocations on the basis of the two-year budget deal, their House counterparts issued only one - for the Veterans Administration and military construction - because Republicans are still divided over adhering to the deal.

FIRST UP - ENERGY: The Senate early next week will take up its fiscal 2017 Energy-Water measure, setting spending levels for Department of Energy-funded research, CQ reports. The House is a step behind. Its Energy-Water draft will be marked up in committee next week. As of now, both measures provide $5.4 billion for the Office of Science, below the administration's $5.57 billion request. For Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Senate recommends $2.07 billion, the House $1.82 billion; fossil energy research, Senate $632 million, House $645 million; and ARPA-E, Senate $292.6 million, House $305.9 million.

A NUDGE ON GEOENGINEERING: Once the science that dared not speak its name, the notion of reverse-engineering climate change - some call it climate-hacking - would get DOE's attention under the Senate bill. A paragraph tucked into the appropriators' report urges the department to review the National Academies' ‘‘Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth,’’ and "leverage existing computational and modeling capabilities to explore the potential impacts of albedo modification."

ITER ZEROED OUT: Once again, Senate appropriators are trying to kill U.S. funding for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in France. They say it "continues to crowd out other federal science investments, including domestic fusion research, as well as high performance computing and materials science." The House has supported ITER in the past. Meanwhile, the senators are rebuffing another administration attempt to defund the Integrated University Program, intended "to cultivate the next generation of leaders in nonproliferation, nuclear security, and international security."

A PLUG FOR 'MISSION INNOVATION': Senate appropriators are open to all manner of energy R&D, backing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's push for what they call "innovative clean energy research and development to accelerate access to affordable, deployable, and transformative technologies" and "the goal to double Federal clean energy investment over the next 5 years." They also support, among other programs: Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration, "which includes funding for Advanced SMRs [small modular reactors] and Advanced Reactor Concepts"; university-based carbon capture and storage projects;  solid oxide fuel cells, aimed at "efficient, cost-effective electricity generation from coal and natural gas with near-zero atmospheric emissions of CO2 and pollutants"; smart grid technogy; new building technologies; 3D printing for renewable energy; "efforts to launch the Energy-Water Desalination Hub to lower the cost and energy intensity of technologies to provide clean, safe water"; and the  EcoCAR 3 competition, which provides "hands-on, real-world experience to demonstrate a variety of advanced technologies and designs." 

CUTS TO POST-9/11 GI BILL DRAW PROTESTS: Veterans groups rallied against a House-passed bill that "included a 50 percent cut in the housing stipend for dependents of a military or veteran parent who had transferred the benefit to them," Inside Higher Ed reports


Source: CQ, "Appropriators Poised for Sprint Through Mid-Summer" 


NEXT YEAR'S MURI TOPICS: Bioinspired Low-Energy Information Processing; Revolutionary Advances in Computational Quantum Many Body Physics; and Adaptive Oxides for Biomimetic Synapse Design via Modulation of Internal States are just a few of the subject areas in the Pentagon's funding opportunity announcement for the FY 2017 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). The program is administered by each of the DOD research offices: Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. (Thanks to the Coalition for National Security Research and John Latini.)  

BIOREFINERY DEMOS: A funding opportunity announcement from the Department of Energy "supports technology development plans for the manufacture of drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels, bioproducts, or intermediates in a pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery." Priority areas are: Pilot scale production of Biofuels from high impact lignocellulosic, algal, or bio-gas feedstocks; Demonstration scale production of Biofuels from high impact lignocellulosic, algal, or bio-gas algal feedstocks; Production of bio-power, bio-products, and biofuels from biosolids and other waste streams. 

NO DEADLINE, FEWER PROPOSALS: Roger Wakimoto, the National Science Foundation's assistant director for geosciences, has revealed "staggering" preliminary results from a pilot program that got rid of grant proposal deadlines in favor of an anytime submission. Science Insider reports that across four grant programs, proposals dropped by 59 percent after deadlines were eliminated. “We’ve found something that many programs around the foundation can use,” Wakimoto told a directorate advisory committee April 13.

'IMPACTS' STILL FELT: The National Science Foundation continues to struggle with "broader impacts," one of two merit-review criteria applied to proposals. Panelists "remain confused about how to interpret and weigh the broader impacts as the merit review criterion," Louis Martin-Vega, engineering dean at North Carolina State, told the engineering advisory committee at its fall, 2015 meeting, according to AdCom minutes. The topic was one of four on which Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering, requested AdCom input. "He also noted that NSF’s evaluation and assessment group is examining broader impacts this year," the minutes report.

HOT NEW THEMES: The AdCom's next meeting, April 27-28, includes several meaty presentations and discussions: Germination of Research Ideas for Large Opportunities and Critical Societal Needs; an INCLUDES update; Energy Efficient Computing; Engineering Research in a World of Big Data; and The Human-Technology Frontier and its Interdisciplinary Imperative. Martin-Vega, ASEE president-elect, will have assumed the AdCom chair.

NO-NOs: NSF auditors questioned more than $2 million worth of claims in a three-year review of awards to the University of Washington, including more than $1.8 million "in senior personnel salary charges that exceeded NSF’s two-month limit." UW, in response, "reviewed and agreed with the facts for $71,071 in questioned costs."

MAXIMIZING K-12 FUNDING: A Department of Education Dear Colleague letter offers "examples of how federal funds—through formula grant programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—can support efforts to improve instruction and student outcomes in STEM fields," the department says. It will  "help states and their school districts use their federal funds to close opportunity gaps and improve educational outcomes for all students.” Several sections deal with recruitment and development of STEM (including computer science and engineering) instructors. 

Photos at left by Jennifer Pocock capture two exhibits at this weekend's USA Science and Engineering Festival.


DECIDE WHAT 'ALL' MEANS: "The quest to 'have it all' nearly broke me and makes me wonder if 'all' may explain why . . .  women remain the minority in our engineering classrooms and even a greater minority in the field’s workplaces," writes Tracy Kijewski-Correa, associate professor in Notre Dame's department of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences. To young women who ask if they can have it all, she has a ready answer: "Yes, as long as you are the one that defines ‘all’ — not them." See her article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


NETI WORKSHOP IN WASHINGTON: An Advanced National Effective Teaching Institute (NETI-2) workshop will be held June 1-2, 2016 at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, D.C. Faculty familiar with NETI-1 and who have more teaching experience will benefit from this advanced teaching workshop led by Drs. Susan Lord, Matt Ohland, and Michael Prince. You may obtain additional information about the workshop by going to https://www.asee.org/conferences-and-events/conferences/neti. Participants in NETI-2 will include a maximum of 50 faculty members from all branches of engineering and engineering technology. The registration fee of $950 covers organization and presentation costs, participant notebooks, breakfasts, lunches, and breaks. Attendees' institutions are expected to cover the participants' expenses for transportation, lodging, and one meal per day.

PRESENTATIONS delivered at ASEE's Public Policy Colloquium and Engineering Research Council meeting are now online. Find them on the ASEE PEER archive.

'ENGINEERING-ENHANCED' LIBERAL EDUCATION: ASEE, with financial support from the Teagle Foundation and expert guidance by leading education consultant Sheila Tobias, has launched a website highlighting case studies that examine the benefits of greater integration between the liberal arts and engineering. Find out more.


'ARE ENGINEERS AUTHORITARIAN? A Dialogue on Engineering Education and a Terrorist Mindset' is the title of a panel discussion at the upcoming Annual Conference that "will explore questions relating to engineering mindsets" and "the finding that engineers are over-represented in extremist groups." That finding is the topic of a recent book, Engineers of Jihad. For other highlights, check out the conference website.

Engineering & Engineering Technology Chairs Conclave

Join us at the ASEE Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA on June 26, 2016 for the inaugural Chairs Conclave, an exclusive forum for Engineering and Engineering Technology Chairs to exchange ideas, share experiences, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. This full day event, designed by Chairs, for Chairs, includes presentations on relevant topics including financial development and managing external connections, and facilitated opportunities for group discussion and brainstorming.  Register today – space is limited! Learn more and view the full agenda.

New Navigation Section - Papers Management:

The new section contains upcoming deadlines, guidelines, call for papers, and kits for authors, program chairs, reviewers, and moderators.

Author's Kits are Available:
• The 2016 Annual Conference Author's Kit -- available on the website -- contains extremely important information regarding the submission process as well as all relevant deadline dates.

eGFI Summer Reading: Is your school hosting an engineering camp, bridge program, or professional development session for K-12 teachers this summer? Jump-start the learning with eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's award-winning magazine for middle and high school students. Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, eGFI aims to get teens fired up about engineering. To purchase copies, go to http://store.asee.org/  For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.