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                                 December 15, 2018

Note to readers: Capitol Shorts will be taking a holiday break. It will reappear the weekend of Jan. 5. Season's Greetings from ASEE.



"I feel like we're making some progress," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters in Albany Friday, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. "We gave the president two ways that we can both have border security and not shut down the government and I think they're seriously considering them now." In a tense Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Schumer and House Minority Leader--and presumptive next Speaker--Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Trump said he would be "proud to shut down the government for border security." Democrats have rejected the president's demand for $5 billion for a border wall. Politoco's Playbook reports: "Several different people inside the White House and on Capitol Hill tell us they are getting some signals" that President Trump "might back a bipartisan package of spending bills to avert a government shutdown. The package--a so-called minibus--funds border security, but not the wall."

IF IT HAPPENS . . . The shutdown would affect only those agencies currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires December 21. Research agencies affected include: NASA; the National Science Foundation; National Institute of Standards and Technology;  the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Homeland Security, and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. It would not affect the departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services (including the National Institutes of Health), and Education, for which Congress has already enacted FY 2019 appropriations. (See NSF's plan for a "funding hiatus.") Senate Appropriations Committee Democrats say more than 420,000 government employees would have to work without pay. (History indicates would likely get paid retroactively.) 

See a Congressional Research Service update on the status of appropriations bills.

WORK-AROUNDS: CQ reports that "There are a variety of options to extend current funding for the nine remaining departments and various agencies, all running on different timelines: a continuing resolution running through the day after Christmas; a CR running through Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress; a CR lasting until late January, February or even May; (or) a CR lasting through the rest of fiscal 2019, to Sept. 30."

A DEFENSE FUNDING CHAMPION - UP TO A POINT:  Defense One reports that the new Senate Armed Services chair, James Inhofe (R-Okla.) "has pushed to increase funds to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and prioritize hypersonic weapons testing, warning that the U.S. faces the most dangerous global threat environment in his lifetime." But "he has expressed skepticism about the president’s demand for a Space Force as a new military service branch, out of the concern that it would be unnecessary and expensive." The New York Times reports that he "came under fire" this week for buying $50,000 to $100,000 worth of stock in defense contractor Raytheon. However, a spokeswoman "said he canceled the transaction, which was performed by a third-party adviser who manages his investment portfolio, after he was made aware of it (and) asked the financial adviser to no longer purchase defense or aerospace holdings."

MONEY STEERED TO QUANTUM R&D: Congress is close to final passage of legislation, sponsored by outgoing House Science Space and Technology Committee chair Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), to accelerate development of quantum information science and technology applications. It calls for a 10-year plan for R&D, a "workforce pipeline," and partnering with industry and universities. While the measure doesn't authorize new spending, the Congressional Budget Office says it directs research agencies to spend appropriated sums on quantum according to this breakdown: up to $125 million annually for the Department of Energy to carry out basic research and establish and operate quantum information science research centers; $80 million annually for NIST to expand quantum research and advance commercial development of quantum applications; and $50 million annually for the NSF to carry out a quantum research and education program and to award grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education." See a committee report

RETURN OF EARMARKS? The Congressional Research Service spells out formal disclosure rules that would come back into effect if the current moratorium on earmarks is lifted. "House and Senate rules require that any member submitting an earmark request provide a written statement that includes the name of the member, the name and address of the earmark recipient, and a certification that the member has no financial interest in the earmark. House and Senate rules require that committees determine whether a provision constitutes an earmark, and committees must compile and make accessible certain earmark related information." 

BENEFITS FOR COLLEGES IN THE FARM BILL: Land-grant institutions established under the 1890 Morrill Act, which funded separate colleges for African Americans in Jim Crow states, could provide scholarships to students who "intend  to  pursue  a  career  in  the  food  and  agricultural sciences," including in agribusiness, energy and renewable fuels, or financial management. (Tuskegee University is included.) The measure, which has cleared Congress, also instructs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set up "a  next-generation  agriculture  technology  challenge  competition  to  provide  an  incentive  for  the  development  of  innovative  mobile  technology  that  removes  barriers  to  entry  in  the  marketplace  for  beginning  farmers  and  ranchers." Other benefits to land-grant schools include competitive grants to  support Tribal students through recruiting, tuition and other means; encouragement of research partnerships with foreign institutions; grants for internships and study abroad; and an increase in allowable overhead costs to 30 percent. Read the conference report.


ZINKE OUT AT YEAR'S END; MULVANEY TO BE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Both moves were announced in presidential tweets, according to CQ. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had been facing ethics probes. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney will become acting chief of staff when John F. Kelly steps down, also at the end of the month. "Russ Vought, the current deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, will take Mick Mulvaney's place as OMB director, according to a senior administration official."

DARPA's AI COLLOQUIUM:  To be held March 6–7, 2019, the AIC "will highlight recent research results across the full breadth of DARPA’s investment in advancing the state of the art . . . engaging a broad range of scientists, engineers, and technologists across the nation’s academic and industrial bases" and "inspire the technical research community to seek research and development partnerships with the agency." Learn more.

A NEW APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCES:  ThIs National Science Foundation effort aimed at grad students seeks to advance science, enhance the educational experience, and improve professional development. Comments should focus on mechanisms to achieve these goals and be submitted by January 31, 2019. Learn more

HEALTH ACCESS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY: The National Insitute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering is supporting "development and translation of new medical technologies that can have a significant impact on healthcare access and health outcomes for health disparate populations." Find out more. See also funding for "development and demonstration of safe, effective, and non-addictive device-based technologies and approaches to treat pain."

$1.7 MILLION TIME-AND-EFFORT PENALTY: The National Science Foundation got $800,000 as its share of a settlement with an unnamed university that failed to maintain a system to ensure that salary costs were charged correctly and appropriately to various grants and submitted "numerous false certifications," a report by the NSF inspector general says. In other reported transgressions, a university research foundation "agreed to pay more than $700,000 to resolve allegations of misuse of funds in awards from several federal agencies." Several abuses were reported by companies that obtained Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) money.

AN EX-PROGRAM OFFICER "submitted an NSF proposal with portions of text copied from a previously declined NSF proposal for which he had served as the cognizant PO." A preponderance of the evidence indicated he did so knowingly, the IG says. Meanwhile, a university found that a principal investigator "committed research misconduct when he plagiarized text into an NSF proposal" and that "the PI and his graduate students engaged in a pattern of self-plagiarism in their published papers. Self-plagiarism is not research misconduct by NSF’s definition; however, it can be a questionable research practice." And "a recipient of a highly competitive NSF post-doctoral Fellowship failed to inform NSF that she was already supported by a Fellowship from her home institution as required."

A NEW WAVE OF HONESTY? The OIG cautions against reading too much into the sharp drop in allegations of research misconduct contained in the chart below. "We used three different methods of capturing allegation data from FY 2009–2018, thus trends cannot be identified across the entire reporting period. . . . We also conducted several proactive assessments looking for plagiarism over the years encompassed in the tables, which inflated the number of plagiarism allegations we had in some years."

Source: Office of the Inspector General, National Science Foundation: Semi-annual Report to Congress

THE GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD "honors federally funded research that may be odd, obscure or serendipitous but ends up having a major impact on society." It's sponsored by organizations that advocate for increased research funding. Nominations can be made by visiting the website goldengooseaward.org and clicking on “nominate” in the top right corner.


Source: National Center For Science and Engineering Statistics,  2017 Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities


INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS - A TRADE SURPLUS: A Washington Post column notes: "In the years after the financial crisis, as states slashed budgets for higher education, schools helped make up the shortfall by enrolling more out-of-state and international students. These students generally pay full tuition, and their higher fees are used to cross-subsidize lower, in-state tuition rates (and scholarships) of American classmates. . . . Foreign students come here in part because they’re interested in staying after graduation and working here. They disproportionately study fields that U.S. employers demand, and that U.S. students avoid. . . . Australia and Canada have each seen their international enrollments rise by double-digit percentages in the past year." The Times Higher Education supplement reports that, in what is thought to be a world first, the colleges of business and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are paying $424,000 in insurance against a significant drop in tuition revenue from loss of Chinese students.


MORE SUPPORT FOR MSIs: A new report by the National Academies urges Congress to "use the legislative process to incent greater investments" in minority-serving institutions. "Given the institutional resources required to effectively compete for large grants and contracts, public and private funding agencies should reconsider the practicality of current competitive funding models for under-resourced MSIs." The report also recommends that leadership "within MSIs, non-MSIs, government agencies, tribal nations, state agencies, private and corporate foundations, and professional, higher education, and scientific associations should prioritize efforts to establish new or expand current mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships." Read the report and highlights



The 2019 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be held April 14–17, 2019, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Crystal City, Va. (future site of Amazon’s HQ2). ASEE members qualify for a discount.
Click here to register

Two-Part Webinar on Teaching Metacognition — February 2019
How do you teach metacognition to help improve student learning? Join us for a two-part webinar event. Patrick Cunningham (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Holly Matusovich (Virginia Tech) offer insights and actionable strategies for talking to and teaching students about metacognitive development. Registration is free for ASEE members! Learn more and register


Check out scores of listings geared to engineering educators on ASEE’s Classifieds Website.

THE ASEE Zone 1 Conference will convene April 11-13, 2019 at the Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls, NY. The conference will be held in partnership with the New York Cyber Security and Engineering Technology Association, and organized by The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Co-hosts include the St. Lawrence Section, Middle Atlantic Section, and Northeast Section of the ASEE. The conference will feature current and future trends in engineering and engineering technology education, with topics including, but not limited to, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, and the internet of things.The deadline for all paper or presentation abstracts, workshop proposals, or abstracts for student posters or lightning talks has been extended to January 15, 2019. Register here.  

NOMINATE A COLLEAGUE: The ASEE awards are the Society’s way to publicly recognize excellent work in our field of engineering and engineering technology education, research and practice. ASEE is now accepting nominations for 2019 ASEE Awards. The award winners will be recognized at the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Expo in Tampa, Florida in June. Nominators must be ASEE members though membership is not required to be nominated for an award. To submit a nomination, log-in at www.asee.org and click on “Award Nominations.” The deadline to submit all nomination materials is January 15, 2019.

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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