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                                September 29, 2018



The $855.1 billion Defense and Labor-HHS-Education appropriation contains $675 billion for defense--the fist time the U.S. military has received a full year's funding at the start of a fiscal year since 2009. But it contains less than President Trump had sought for the border wall. Nonetheless. Trump told the United Nations General Assembly earlier in the week: "We've started the construction of a major border wall," and "we've secured record funding for our military." The measure, approved 361 - 61 by the House on Wednesday, includes stopgap legislation maintaining government spending at current levels until December 7 for agencies Congress has not yet funded through the appropriations process. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said:,"Negotiations on the rest of the funding bills are currently ongoing." 

FOURTH YEAR OF NIH INCREASES: The $2 billion hike for the National Institutes of Health brings the medical-research agency's budget to $39 billion. (See a breakdown by institute below) The American Institute of Physics' FYI bulletin also reports: "The legislation once again prevents NIH from changing policies related to indirect cost rates, which govern the agency’s reimbursement of research institutions for facilities and administrative expenses. The Trump administration had proposed capping these rates at 10 percent of total grant cost in its fiscal year 2018 budget request. The rates have hovered near 28 percent over the past two decades."

See the AAAS Appropriations Dashboard


DOE AWARDS $218 MILLION FOR QUANTUM RESEARCH: The 85 projects funded by the Department of Energy "are led by scientists at 28 institutions of higher learning across the nation and nine DOE national laboratories and cover a range of topics--from developing hardware and software for a new generation of quantum computers, to the synthesis and characterization of new materials with special quantum properties, to probing the ways in which quantum computing and information processing provide insights into such cosmic phenomena as Dark Matter and black holes," the DOE announcement says."It is known that quantum computers—once fully mature systems are developed and deployed—will be capable of solving certain large, extremely complex problems that lie entirely beyond the capacity of even today’s most powerful supercomputers. Check out the specific awards here, here, and here

Testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said: “Universities and the DOE National Laboratories are poised to generate new insights and approaches to information processing and other technologies. With strategic investments, America can remain on the leading edge of this next frontier of Information Age science and technology.”

DWARFED BY CHINA'S AMBITION: Axios hastens to add a "reality check" to DOE's announcement: "This funding pales next to China's $10 billion national laboratory for quantum science, planned for 2020." The news site also reports that "the nation's leading lights in quantum science and research" attended a White House meeting, where they "gamed out the next 10 years of quantum research, discussed coordination between the public and private sectors, and debated how to build a workforce that can take advantage of quantum technology." 

NEXT-GEN RESEARCH CENTERS: The National Science Foundation has awarded some 60 planning grants to institutions hoping to establish new Engineering Research Centers. The agency is expected soon to announce its overall approach, following last year's National Academies' report and subsequent biennial ERC meeting. Browse the abstracts.

EAGER FOR PRIVACY: The National Science Foundation invites EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that foster interdisciplinary research "on the fundamentals of security and privacy as a multidisciplinary subject that will lead to new ways to design, build, and operate cyber systems, protect existing infrastructure, and motivate and educate individuals about cybersecurity." Learn more.

ROTATOR SCRUTINY: The Government Accountability Office "recommends that NSF develop an agency-wide strategy for balancing the agency’s use of rotators with permanent staff and evaluate the contributions of its rotator programs toward NSF’s human capital goals and programmatic results." See the numbers GAO came up with in Databytes, below. 

SMALL DROP IN A HOT BUCKET: draft environmental impact statement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a new take on the Trump Administration's approach to climate change. The draft appears to acknowledge that the White House decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020 will contribute to a 7-degree Fahrenheit increase in average global temperatures by the end of the century, nearly double the most dire and catastrophic predictions of climate scientists. But it goes on to note that the new policy "would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket," the Washington Post reports.  Meanwhile, Science reports that "a new space station sensor that will lay the foundation for future long-term observations of Earth’s climate is moving ahead, despite repeated attempts by President Donald Trump’s administration to kill it." See a related National Academies report.

AIR FORCE FACULTY FELLOWSHIPS: The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) says applications are now being accepted for its Summer Faculty Fellowship Program. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in science, mathematics or an Air Force-relevant engineering discipline. Information about the fellowship including how to apply can be found here: The list of research topics AFRL is seeking applications for can be found here:


Average Annual Staffing Costs for National Science Foundation (NSF) Federal Employees and Intergovernmental
Personnel Act (IPA) Rotators, Fiscal Years 2008 through 2017

Source: Government Accountability Office, National Science Foundation: A Workforce Strategy and Evaluation of Results Could Improve Use of Rotating Scientists, Engineers, and Educators


SUPPLY STRESSES: A National Academies panel spells out strategic opportunities for for the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Mission Area "to more effectively address the most pressing challenges" to the nation's water resources amid pressure from "growing populations, climate change, extreme weather, and aging water-related infrastructure." Read the report.


ABSTRACT SUBMISSIONS ARE OPEN . . . for ASEE's 126th Annual Conference & Exposition at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Fla., June 15 - 19, 2019. See the Call for Papers (you may need to log on to the website as a member).

2019 CoNECD ABSTRACT DEADLINE: The second Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be April 14 - 17, 2019 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway outside Washington D.C. The deadline  is  October 1, 2018 at 23:59 EDT. See the Call for Papers, and Authors' Kit. To submit an abstract, you'll need to be logged in to ASEE. See presentations from the 2018 conference.

ASEE AT 125 VIDEO CONTEST: One of the activities planned to mark ASEE‘s 125th anniversary is EEin25, the first-ever ASEE video contest. Undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students may submit a 90-second video on where engineering education will be in 25 years at ASEE‘s 150th Anniversary in 2043. Click here to find out more. Click here to learn about other activities commemorating 125 Years at the Heart of Engineering Education.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE ACCELERATOR: ASEE's free monthly newsletter for undergraduate and graduate students has a wide array of resources: scholarship and internship/co-op listings, student news and essays, podcasts, professional development resources (e.g., advice on how to get an internship and how to make the most of it), and academic advice - plus entertaining engineering videos. Tell your students! Click here to subscribe. Send content to Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org.

FIRE UP THE FUTURE WITH eGFI: Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, the latest edition of ASEE's award-winning Engineering, Go For It is sure to get your students excited about learning - and doing - engineering!

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