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January 16, 2015


AMBITIONS FOR FY 2017 SPENDING BILLS: Top issues for the House GOP in 2016, says Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), are national security and combating terrorism; restoring economic growth; rethinking healthcare; overhauling poverty programs; and restoring the constitution (a reference to the president's "overreach"). Ground work for this agenda will be carried out by committee-appointed task forces, according to CQ. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also hope to pass 12 individual appropriations bills. Prospects are slightly less difficult this year because top-line numbers for FY 2017 have already been fixed by the recent bipartisian budget deal. 

SENATE 'COMPETES' ANTICIPATED: An annual report issued by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee notes that "Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) have . . . hosted roundtables and invited public input on setting federal research and development policy priorities, an effort that is expected to result in legislation." Also: "In early 2016, the committee will introduce and consider the much-anticipated MOBILE NOW Act to accelerate the deployment of mobile broadband that fuels our technology economy." 


NEEDED - BETTER DESIGNS FOR NUKES: Paul Peercy, left, retired University of Wisconsin - Madison engineering dean, delivered a blunt assessment of the state of U.S. nuclear weapons design before the House Armed Services' Strategic Forces subcommittee. "The state of Peer Review at the DOE Weapons Labs is healthy and robust, but the state of Design Competition is not." Peercy, along with Jill Dahlburg of the Naval Research Laboratory, co-chaired a National Academies panel that produced the report Peer Review and Design Competition in the NNSA National Security Laboratories. Among other things, the panel recommended that the [National Nuclear Security Administration] "develop and conduct the first in what the committee envisions to be a series of design competitions that integrate the full end-to-end process from novel design conception through engineering, building, and non-nuclear testing of a prototype." See the testimony.  Watch the video.


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock. To see a larger version, click here.



BIDEN'S MOONSHOT: Tapped by President Obama to lead a campaign to seek a cancer cure, Vice President Joseph Biden says he aims to increase public and private resources and "[b]reak down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together — to work together, share information . . . ." Summarizing his plans on Medium, Biden said: "Data and technology innovators can play a role in revolutionizing how medical and research data is shared and used to reach new breakthroughs." According to the Associated Press, "Biden has described a system in which competition, territorialism and "stove-piping" of information leave researchers and their discoveries cloistered in their own corners." The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that National Institutes of Health officials ""repeatedly emphasized their sense that substantial progress against cancer would require a lot more cooperation than has been seen to date — among and between researchers and others at universities, companies, and funders." Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer, this week toured the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics, site of chimeric antigen receptor technology. This technique, according to Penn, enables cancer patients’ own T cells to be reprogrammed outside the body, then re-infused to hunt and kill cancer cells.

'WE CAN DO THAT': House Republicans were quick to sign on to this particular Obama goal. See the response by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

'WE HAVE BOOSTED GRADUATES IN FIELDS LIKE ENGINEERING': This claim by the president in his State of the Union address prompted Georgia Tech Engineering Dean Gary May to wonder: 'Has the focus on STEM education and graduating more engineers paid off during the past five years or is the President’s statement more myth than reality?" He cites national data from various sources showing "a steady rise in the number of STEM degrees awarded as U.S. students are finding their way into science and engineering," but adds "it is not time to back off the commitment." The American Association of University Women commented: "We loved the president’s shout-out to STEM leading ladies Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson, and Sally Ride! But much more needs to be done to create an environment in STEM fields that supports success for all women."

'STAY THE COURSE' AT NASA: The challenge of starting over with new programs and directions as administrations change "has historically led to disruption and inefficiency" at the space agency "and arguably has impact on safety and good systems engineering." So argues the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel in its 2015 annual report. "Failing to stay the course with current programs of record will make it an even longer, costlier, and potentially less safe trip to Mars." The panel still thinks the agency falls short on risk, citing a "continued lack of clear, transparent, and definitive formal risk acceptance and accountability."

PULLING PUNCHES ON FRACKING? ASME's Capitol Update reports that the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board is taking issue with parts of EPA's Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources. "Of particular concern is the high-level conclusion statement that 'We did not find evidence that hydraulic fracturing mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.' The SAB found that this statement does not clearly describe the system(s) of interest (e.g., groundwater, surface water) nor the definitions of 'systemic,' 'widespread,' or 'impacts.'"


DIVERSE ROUTES IN STEM: A new report by the National Research Council states: "Contrary to the image of a linear route to a bachelor’s degree in STEM (often referred to as the STEM pipeline), we found instead a complex array of pathways to a varied set of undergraduate credential outcomes, both 2- and 4-year degrees. Students use 2- and 4-year institutions in ways likely not envisioned by educators and policy makers, with frequent transfers, concurrent enrollment at multiple institutions, and multiple points of entry, exit, and reentry to the pathways.  Such pathways have major implications for the financing of, the time to, and the cost of degrees." Among other recommendations, the report urges: "Institutions, states, and federal policy makers (to) better align educational policies with the range of education goals of students enrolled in 2- and 4-year institutions. Policies should account for the fact that many students take more than 6 years to graduate and should reward 2- and 4-year institutions for their contributions to the educational success of students they serve, which includes not only those who graduate."


ASEE HAS OPENED ONLINE REGISTRATION AND HOUSING for three important upcoming events:

2016 Public Policy Colloquium - February 8-10, 2016 at The Fairmont Hotel, Washington, D.C., sponsored by the ASEE Engineering Deans Council and its Executive Board. The colloquium is intended to strengthen the discussion of engineering education and research issues between the deans of engineering and key public policy makers, and to enable the deans to refine their public policy agenda. Since the Public Policy Colloquium will focus on the activities of the Engineering Deans Council, we ask that you come yourself and not send an associate dean. Early registration rates end January 22, 2016. Click here for more information.

2016 Engineering Research Council Annual Conference - March 7-9, 2016 at The Sheraton, Silver Spring, Md., sponsored by the ERC and its Executive Board. Conference Goals:
• To provide an overview of federal R&D budgets and upcoming priorities.
• To equip research leaders with tools and strategies to more effectively lead their research programs and organizations.  Workshops and panels include:
o Strategies for winning large center proposals
o Data management and the new federal open access requirements
o Research metrics and academic analytics
o Research laboratory safety

Format Change: We are significantly reducing time spent on formal presentations by federal funding agency representatives, instead asking speakers to provide power point slides as read-ahead material and devoting more time with them as interactive panel discussions and Q&A sessions.  Also, we are increasing the number and scope of sessions on leadership tools and strategies.
Engineering deans, associate deans, department chairs and other engineering research leaders are encouraged to attend this conference. Early registration rates end February 19, 2016.
Click here for more information.

2016 Engineering Deans Institute -  March 29 – April 1, 2016 at the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, San Francisco.
ASEE's annual EDI provides an opportunity for engineering deans - and only deans - to gather and discuss the crucial issues facing their schools, colleges, and profession. For a few days, a single-stream program fosters dialogue between deans, industry leaders, and those in important roles in research and government. Deans share best practices, learn about career prospects for their graduates, and develop a voice for engineering education and the role of engineering in society. Social activities and plenty of time for conversation encourage the cultivation of relationships and an intensely rewarding experience. EDI is sponsored by the ASEE Engineering Deans Council and its Executive Board. Early registration rates end March 11, 2016. Click here for more information.


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.

THE ST. LAWRENCE SECTION CONFERENCE will be held at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.,  April 8-9, 2016. This year the conference will include several workshops. The calls for papers, presentations, posters and workshops as well as  information about the Conference Program, Registration, and Hotel information is available on http://stl.asee.org/conference_2016.html.

eGFI IS HERE: Help inspire the next generation of innovators with the all-new 6th edition of ASEE's prize-winning magazine for middle and high school students: eGFI (Engineering, Go For It). Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, eGFI aims to get teens fired up about learning - and doing - 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.