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November 19, 2016



President-elect Donald Trump is expected to tighten rules around H-1B visas, the Wall Street Journal reports. Candidate Trump's views shifted. In a March debate, he supported high-skilled immigration, according to the newspaper. But afterward, he issued a statement vowing to "end forever the use of H-1B as a cheap labor program."  Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, is quoted as saying, "It would be very surprising if we don't see the rules around H-1B really tighten." Trump's choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), left, has suggested he'd be willing to scrap the program. Wired quotes him as having said at a campaign stop in Iowa in October: “I don’t think the republic would collapse if it was totally eliminated.” he said. Beck said tens of thousands of mostly Indian immigrants could face tougher vetting. While most Indian-Americans were reported not to support Trump, he did have pockets of support in the community.

ENGINEERING FIRMS EYE AN INFRASTRUCTURE PUSH: Shares of Los Angeles-based giant Aecom, "a firm that specializes in huge projects such as New York’s One World Trade Center," are up sharply, the Los Angeles Times reports. "I start from the premise that we’ve been under-invested in infrastructure here for decades. We’ve been spending about 2.5% of gross domestic product on infrastructure. Europe spends 5%; China spends even more," the company's chief executive, Mike Burke, tells the newspaper. Even a $1 trillion investment, which Trump has suggested, won't close the gap, says Burke. 

STILL NO WORD ON A SCIENCE ADVISER: The Atlantic, among other outlets, explores how Trump would treat the Office of Science and Technology Policy, whose director must be confirmed by the Senate, as well as the President's Advisory Council on Science and Technology and the National Science and Technology Council. The OSTP director "has almost always been a nationally respected scientist or engineer, with advanced degrees in their field. Given that Trump prides himself on his outsider status, perhaps all bets are off. Would the new director even have a science degree?" 

The American Astronomical Society has produced a list of key science appointments requiring Senate confirmation. Contrary to a previous, incorrect, item in Capitol Shorts, it notes that members of the National Science Board do not require Senate confirmation.


$30 MILLION FOR HYDROGEN: The Department of Energy (DOE) has $30 million available, subject to appropriations, "for research and development of low-cost hydrogen production, onboard hydrogen storage, and proton exchange membrane fuel cells to advance the widespread commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles. Selected projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE's Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year, in support of DOE's materials research and advanced manufacturing priorities." Learn more.

DOE wants information from stakeholders "regarding how and which components in the hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturing process can and should be standardized. The intent of the RFI is to identify manufacturing pathways to reduce costs in both the near and longer-term, as well as how to address any critical barriers regarding manufacturability and supply chain development. 

DON'T FORGET OIL AND GAS: Fossil fuel R&D never drew much attention from the Obama administration, but it didn't disappear. Now DOE is seeking "input on critical gaps in oil and natural gas technology that must be addressed through scientific research" in five areas:

1. Unconventional oil and natural gas resource development
2. Beneficial reuse of water produced from oil and natural gas wells
3. Offshore spill prevention
4. Natural gas conversion
5. Carbon dioxide storage and enhanced oil recovery (CO2 EOR).  Learn more.

MADE IN AMERICA: The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks proposals that address "critical fundamental research needs in advanced manufacturing," especially ones that "will enable innovations in one or more of the Manufacturing USA (formerly National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) focus areas and leverage the facilities, infrastructure and member companies of an institute." Collaboration with an Institute and member companies "are particularly encouraged."  Find out more.

TWO-YEAR 'INCLUDES' PROJECTS: NSF expects to fund as many as 25 Design and Development Launch Pilot Projects at up to $300,000 each this fiscal year as part of Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES). These projects "explore the feasibility of bold, innovative ways for solving a broadening participation challenge in STEM." Learn more.


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock; Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF). See an interactive version.


MIKULSKI's SUCCESSORS: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), far right, will become the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee in January, replacing Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who is retiring. He will be joined on the panel by freshman Chris Van Hollen, near right, elected to fill Mikulski's Senate seat. While lacking his formidable predecessor's seniority, Van Hollen brings added clout within his party as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The seat on Appropriations will help him protect Maryland's federal jewels, including the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and several military research installations.

FORGET THE OMNI- AND MINIBUSES: Lawmakers "have decided to put off government funding decisions until March 2017," CQ reports. Instead of a big package or several smaller packages of appropriations bills, the lame-duck Congress will have to enact a stopgap spending bill - a continuing resolution, or CR - before Dec. 9. The four-month delay in  appropriations bill "gives Republicans time to coordinate with President-elect Donald Trump."

'IDIOTS': That was Sen. John McCain's response to word of a CR, which came just as the Armed Services Committee chairman (R-Ariz.) was getting closer to agreement with the House on a major Defense Authorization bill, CQ reports. Having labored over the measure, he will now have to wait months to see its new policies and priorities carried out in the appropriations process. In House-Senate negotiations, "two controversial provisions in the fiscal 2017 defense policy bill — one on the sage grouse, another on contractor discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity — that could have led to a White House veto are likely to be removed."

STAR WARS REDUX: "Missile defense and military space programs are likely to get a substantial funding boost under the incoming Republican-dominated government," CQ's John Donnelly reports. Expect "a greater number of more capable antimissile interceptors and radars deployed around the globe — on land, at sea and possibly in space," and more money for "protecting U.S. satellites from attack — potentially including systems that can ram into or otherwise disable another country’s satellites." 


APPLICATION DEADLINES LOOM: The application period for these ASEE-managed scholarship programs closes Nov. 30, 2016:

NAVAL RESEARCH ENTERPRISE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM (NREIP) - This is a a 10-week summer research opportunity for undergraduate Juniors & Seniors, and Graduate students. Link to application:  https://nreip.asee.org/apply

SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM (SEAP): This is intended for high school students who have completed at least Grade 9. SEAP is an eight week summer research opportunity at participating Office of Naval Research laboratories. Link to application: https://seap.asee.org/apply

ATTENTION, WOMEN POST-DOCS: The L’Oréal USA For Women In Science fellowship program awards five post‐doctoral women scientists annually with grants of $60,000 each. Applicants are selected from a variety of fields, including the life and physical/material sciences, technology (including computer science), engineering, and mathematics. Applications will open on November 28, 2016 and are due by February 3, 2017. The application and more information about the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program can be found at www.lorealusa.com/forwomeninscience.

SAFE ZONE ALLY TRAINING WEBINAR SERIES – Level 2: Take part in creating a positive and inclusive environment for LGBTQ individuals in STEM by joining ASEE for three free Level 2 Safe Zone Ally Training webinars. Building upon the Level 1 webinars presented in Spring 2016, ASEE is offering a  one-hour “deep dive” on LGBTQ and engineering culture December 6. Register today. Missed Level 1? View the slides and recording-on-demand here.

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: WORKSHOP ON BUILDING RESEARCH CAPACITY FOR STEM FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: Building Research Capacity for STEM Faculty Development is an NSF-sponsored working conference that brings together experts from around the country to develop a national research agenda focused on faculty development in the STEM disciplines. February 16-18, 2017 at Clemson University. Apply here

Prize-winning eGFI:  Get teens fired up about engineering with eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's magazine for middle and high school students. Winner of the APEX Grand Award for Publication Excellence, eGFI combines engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers. Click here to purchase copies, For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.