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                                                                 May 2, 2020  



Those are two horse-trading items before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as they prepare for the next round of debt-financed federal spending to cushion the blows from COVID-19. "Pelosi said state governments are still finalizing their request but have so far sought $500 billion, while local governments have a similar figure. Lawmakers also are considering other proposals including another round of cash payments to taxpayers, expanded unemployment insurance, assistance to renters and wider broadband access," Bloomberg reports.

McConnell had suggested states file for bankruptcy rather than seek a bailout. More recently, he has "sought to use additional state and local aid as leverage to win liability protection for employers who reopen their businesses during the pandemic," CQ reports.“There’s no question that all governors regardless of party would like to have more money, and I’m open to discussing that,” McConnell told Fox News Radio. “But what she’s ignoring is the second pandemic, which is going to be lawsuits.” Pelosi's response: “We would not be inclined to be supporting any immunity from liability,” MConnell has also voiced worries about piling up debt. But Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says now is not the time to fret about that.

The Senate reconvenes Monday, but will mostly be occupied with judicial confirmations. Pelosi announced the House will return to Washington and resume legislative business on Monday, May 11, Lewis-Burke Associates reports. House committees may conduct hearings and other legislative business so long as social distancing guidelines are followed. The White House blocked the top federal infectious disease specialist, Anthony Fauci, from testifying before House appropriators next week, but he will appear May 12 before a Senate committee, ABC reports.   

PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES CALL FOR $46 BILLION: With higher education in what the Associated Press calls "a state of turmoil," public universities are asking Congress for $46.6 billion--a sum that "represents just the floorof the overall impact confronting colleges and students as a result of the pandemic." Major research institutions say "Congress must do more in the weeks ahead to bolster the resources and protections provided to students, researchers, universities, laboratories, hospitals, and medical professionals."

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NSB TAKES ON A FUTURE-INDUSTRIES CAST: Tapped for the National Science Board by President Trump are robotics specailist Daniela Rus, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (and also deputy dean for research); materials scientist Sudarsanam Babu, a professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Governor’s Chair of Advanced Manufacturing with a joint appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and electrical engineer and computer scientist Dario Gil, research director at IBM. Recently, Gil has been leading a group of White House advisers exploring how the U.S. can maintain its advantage in Industries of the Future, according to Lewis-Burke Associates. Also named to the board is particle physicist Aaron Dominguez, provost of Catholic University. Trump named Harvard astronomer Abraham Loeb to the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

NSB AGENDA - COVID-19 and VISION 2030: Meeting via Zoom May 6 and 7, the board "will unveil its new Vision 2030 report, and NSF will highlight the agency’s response to COVID-19. Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Kelvin Droegemeier is acting director of NSF. You can see a live stream here.


RISE OF ENGINEERING AT NSF: Vannevar Bush's landmark essay, Science, the Endless Frontier, led to the establishment of the National Science Foundation. A foreword by former Director France Córdova to a  75th anniversary edition notes:  "Over  time, engineering has taken on more prominence at the Foundation," it notes. "Where basic research in science produces insights on the world that we have, basic research in engineering produces vital knowledge about how to build the world that we want. . . . NSF has gone on to fund many programs with technology transfer in mind, including the Engineering Research Centers and the more recent Innovation Corps. These efforts buildf aster tracks to tangible outcomes, have produced many startups, and have earned approval from the Administration and Congress." Formation of the Computer  and  Information  Science  and  Engineering  directorate  in  1986 "would  have  pleased  Bush,  who  was  in  the  vanguard  of  those  who  saw  the  potential  of  computers  to  change  every  aspect of life."

ATTENTION, CIVIL ENGINEERS: NSF Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation program directors will discuss recent revisions in the program scope and new research thrusts within the Engineering for Civil Infrastructure program during a webinar May 11, 2020, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm EDT. Register in advance.

WIRELESS SPECTRUM RESEARCH: NSF's Spectrum Innovation Initiative (SII) "seeks to chart out a trajectory to ensure United States leadership in future wireless technologies, systems, and applications in science and engineering through the efficient use and sharing of the radio spectrum." The National Center for Wireless Spectrum Research (SII-Center)  solicitation supports Multiple SII-Center Planning Grant awards funded at a level of up to $300,000 for up to 12 months as well as one SII-Center award funded at a level of up to $5,000,000/year for 5 years. The SII team will hold a webinar on Fri, May 08, 2020, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT that will cover the solicitation, submission requirements, and program updates. Register here

FORMULA GRANTS UNDER THE CARES ACT: The Department of Education has released information on how to access the second half of formula grants to institutions of higher education authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Institutions can use up to one-half of the total funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. Learn more.

CORONAVIRUS RESEARCH GRANT NIXED: The American Institute of Physics' FYI bulletin reports that the National Institutes of Health has "terminated a grant for a research project on bat-borne coronaviruses after it was criticized by President Trump and a number of Republican lawmakers. While the grant was held by EcoHealth Alliance, a global environmental health research organization based in New York, it attracted negative attention because part of it supported collaborative activities with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China." The U.S. intelligence community says it "concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified." Nonetheless, the IC "will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.” The Washington Post reports there is no evidence of accidental release of the virus from the lab.

ELECTRIC VEHICLE CYBERSECURITY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology hosted a one-day symposium last September to familiarize the government and industry with the potential cybersecurity implications of EV supply equipment infrastructure. See a summary and presentations.

DEPSCoR AWARDS: Six collaborative teams have been named winners of the Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) competition. "Each team will receive up to $600,000 over a three-year period." DEPSCoR is a congressionally-mandated, capacity-building program managed by the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology (DDRE(R&T). "The program strengthens basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education in under-utilized states and territories." See the winning teams.

UNIVERSITIES TO CONGRESS - REJECT TRUMP CUTS TO DOD BASIC RESEARCH: Prepared testimony submitted by the Coalition for National Security Research says the Pentagon's FY 2021 budget "harms DoD’s ability to build capacity in its research programs and workforce by proposing to eliminate funding for efforts such as Defense Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR)." The CNSR document also says "University Research Initiatives (URIs) would be absolutely devastated from funding levels proposed in the FY 2021 budget." Within the URI programs, the budget "proposes to fund the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program and Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) below FY 2010 levels in real dollars."


Updated State Profile Data

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. This interactive graphic allows viewers to compare up to seven states at once. See a further explanation. 


R&D is one of numerous categories available for comparison in this interactive graphic  


EXPANSION OF FOREIGN GIFT REPORTING: The White House Office of Management and Budget has approved the Department of Education’s proposed expansion of foreign gift and contract reporting requirements, the American Council on Education says, The draft released in February is essentially unchanged. ACE and other higher education associations believe it exceeds statutory authority.

PROTECTION SOUGHT FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: NAFSA (the international education association) is pressing Congress "to ensure that international students and scholars are able to return to U.S. institutions of higher education.  The organization is urging their members to do outreach to congressional offices." See the group's advocacy agenda

CHINA'S SMART CITIES: A report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Secuirity Review Commission "examines China’s rapid implementation of smart cities technologies domestically, including its burgeoning use of surveillance technologies to monitor and repress its population. The report also looks at China's widespread export of these technologies through a series of country case studies. The United States is a leading destination for these exports, and the report concludes by comparing U.S. versus Chinese capabilities and assessing the national security risks of widespread deployment of Chinese smart cities technologies in U.S. critical infrastructure.

PLANS FOR THE FALL: The Chronicle of Higher Education is keeping track of campuses that have announced their intentions. 

See the Chronicle of Higher Education update.



Registering for the June 22-26 conference will allow you to:

Have the opportunity to see any presentation made by an author, distinguished lectures, or plenaries 24/7 during the week of the conference;
Attend Q&A sessions, so you can interact with the presenters;
Attend workshops, business meetings, and the different orientations that usually happen at the annual meeting;
Attend/participate in the recognition and highlighting of our national award winners, and our incoming fellows, and our outgoing and incoming board members; and
Participate in our interactive exhibit hall as well as sponsor/tech demos. There will be exclusive exhibit hall times to interact with sponsors and exhibitors.

Check the website for updates.

RESPONSE TO PUBLIC-ACCESS PROPOSAL: ASEE is among numerous publishers of academic journals providing feedback to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding a proposal to require free distribution of academic articles that have been published with federal support: "Reducing or eliminating the current one-year embargo would significantly jeopardize our organization’s ability to invest in producing the high-quality peer-reviewed journals that our readers in the broad engineering community rely on. In so doing, such a policy would contravene Congress’ clear guidance to take our role and investments into consideration. Furthermore, such a policy would directly result in a reduction in either the quantity or quality (or more likely, both) of peer-reviewed journal articles produced by hundreds of organizations like ours." Read the letter here.