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                                   August 3, 2019

Note to readers: This newsletter will not appear next week.



Final approval of the two-year agreement by the president sets in motion a hectic pace for appropriators, led by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). Shelby "has said his committee will work during the five-week summer recess to prepare appropriations bills for the floor," the Association of American Universities reports. With just 13 legislative days before the end of the fiscal year, Congress is expected to package several agency funding measures--most likely covering Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (including the National Institutes of Health), Education, and the Department of Energy--into a so-called minibus spending bill. Other agencies may be funded temporarily at current levels though a shortterm continuing resolution.

HOUSE MUST ADJUST NUMBERS: The compromise budget deal requires the House to revisit its10 spending bills and cut non-defense spending by $15 billion and raise defense spending by $5 billion, AAU says. House-Senate negotiations will determine numbers for each agency. Lewis-Burke Associates notes that the federal government has finally wriggled out of the 2011 Budget Contol Act straightjacket. "By lifting statutory caps on federal spending, Congress and the White House have removed a structural hurdle to the annual appropriations process that stymied lawmakers for years." The downside: "The budget agreement provides only a $2.5 billion increase in non-defense spending in FY 2021."

VISA DELAYS AND A 'SECOND WALL': House Judiciary Committee members grilled U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials on a processing backlog of some 2.4 million cases as of 2018. Among those affected are international graduates with F-1 visas who are eligible to remain in the United States for Optional Practical Training. Lewis-Burke reports that "OPT applications are at times not approved until the internship has already ended." USCIS officials pointed to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy as a cause of the backlog, L-B reports, along with "recent policies requiring more stringent vetting through in-person interviews and multiple security checks."  The American Council on Education noted "a historic drop in new and continuing enrollments for international students. . . We believe a core problem is the lack of predictability that surrounds the visa process." Marketa Lindt, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said requests for evidence in response to H1-B petitions had risen from 20.8% in FY 2016 to 60% in the first quarter of FY 2019. The National Partnership for New Americans said USCIS had introduced a series of policies, collectively referred to as the "second wall," that reduce access to citizenship.


A PIPELINE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: This is "flowing back to China for the advancement of its various strategic plans" as a result of China's talent recruitment programs, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee July 23. Particularly at the graduate level in  major universities, we need to make sure U.S. tax dollars aren't used to help China achieve economic dominance. Wray said he's "heartened" by the level of alignment and consensus in Congress about the China threat. He wants to raise universities' awareness so they can make "thoughtful, voluntary decisions." Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) commented that academic leaders tend to be less aware of the scope of the threat, "less sophisticated and savvy" than Fortune 100 executives. Read coverage by the American Institute of Physics' FYI Bulletin.

EARLY-CAREER RESEARCHERS: The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has picked 73 scientists--46 from universities--"to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program." See the awardees' names and the winning abstracts, including a number of engineering projects. Meanwhile, 10 universities will share $14 million for fusion research. 

See also winning videos in the Life at the Frontiers of Energy Research contest. The Energy Frontiers Research Centers program is marking its 10th anniversary.  

PAIRING SOLDIERS AND ENGINEERING STUDENTS: Texas A&M University's planned Soldier Development Center "would provide an agile development capability to pair soldiers with engineering students and faculty to solve problems on the battlefield," Lewis-Burke reports in its defense policy newsletter. It's one of a number of ways the year-old Army Futures Command, headquartered in Austin, is working with universities. AFC is creating institutes and hubs at universities "to focus on technologies that align with the Command’s six modernization priorities and eight Cross-Functional Teams." Projects mentioned at a recent Pentagon briefing include a robotics institute at the University of Texas; the AI Task Force at Carnegie Mellon University and an Educational Partnership Agreement with Vanderbilt University focused on supporting the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell. Check out two new R&D-focused Pentagon websites here and here

WANTED: COMPUTING SERVICE PROVIDERS: A National Science Foundation solicitation seeks "proposals from organizations willing to serve as service providers (SPs) within the NSF Innovative High-Performance Computing (HPC) program to provide advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) capabilities and/or services in production operations to support the full range of computational- and data-intensive research across all of science and engineering (S&E)." Learn more


Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF). Click here for an interactive version


'DROPOUT FACTORIES': That's what many higher education institutions would be labeled if they were judged by the same measures as high schools, contends University of California-Berkeley Professor David Kirp, In an excerpt of his book, The College Dropout Scandal, appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he writes: "The fact that 40 percent of college freshmen never make it to commencement is . . . a dereliction of duty that has gotten too little public attention. . . . Strikingly, the universities didn’t seem to care."  


WHERE THINGS STAND FOR LGBT FOLKS: University of Virginia psychologist Charlotte J. Patterson, who chairs the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and physician and IBM Fellow Martin-José J. Sepulveda will lead a National Academies review of research and data on: "the changing legal status of LGBT people; demography of the LGBT population; LGBT workplace experiences (jobs, occupations, hiring, promotion, and disparate treatment); extent of violence, stigma, and discrimination as a result of sexual orientation or gender identity; LGBT civic engagement, political participation, social services (child welfare, health education), and social movements; and future data needs and methodological challenges to monitoring these issues and others." 


CHENNAI BECKONS; The Global Student Forum will be held November 12-16 in Chennai, India, concurrent with the World Engineering Education Forum. 

POSTSECONDARY LEADERSHIP SUCCESS: This Department of Education program is offering an Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) Fellowship. It's a "yearlong professional development experience to develop the organizational leadership and management skills of postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) professionals, with an emphasis on addressing the needs of underserved populations. Twenty selected fellows will build their leadership skills by working as a team with a dedicated mentor, attend four in-person workshops, be eligible to earn two semester hours graduate education credit from a Tier 1 university, and earn a $4,000 stipend." Learn more.

Sept. 2019 Webinar – Insights on Building your Female Leadership Pool

How can you build your college’s female leadership pool? On Sept. 11 at 11:00 AM, ET, University of Michigan’s Alec Gallimore (Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering) and Jennifer Linderman (Director of the ADVANCE Program) will explore four key approaches used at Michigan Engineering to build the female leadership pool, where women now occupy half of the top faculty-leadership roles. Don’t miss out – register today at http://bit.ly/30y42Ub

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