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July 23, 2016



This competition, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, seeks to overcome scarcity in the radio frequency spectrum through collaborative machine learning. The is to "ensure that the exponentially growing number of military and civilian wireless devices will have full access to the increasingly crowded  electromagnetic spectrum," DARPA says. "Today, spectrum is managed by dividing it into rigid, exclusively licensed bands. This human-driven process is not adaptive to the dynamics of supply and demand, and thus cannot exploit the full potential capacity of the spectrum. . . . [C]ompetitors will reimagine a new, more efficient wireless paradigm in which radio networks autonomously collaborate to dynamically determine how the spectrum should be used moment to moment.The team whose radio design most reliably achieves successful communication in the presence of other competing radios could win as much as $3,500,000. Find out more. Register for Information Days.

4 NEW EFRCs TO TACKLE NUKE WASTE, CLEANUP: Florida State, Ohio State, the University of South Carolina, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be the lead institutions in a $40 million expansion of the Energy Frontier Research Centers program, bringing the total to 36. They "will conduct basic research aimed at assisting with the cleanup of hazardous waste that resulted from decades of nuclear weapons research and production. . . . The goal is to achieve fundamental advances in science to enable safe, efficient, and cost-effective waste cleanup and storage technologies," the Department of Energy says.

TRAINING GLOBAL RESEARCHERS: The National Science Foundation's International Research Experiences for Students program aims to develop "globally-engaged U.S. science and engineering students capable of performing in an international research environment at the forefront of science and engineering." It supports "active research participation" by undergrads and grad students." Learn more.

QUANTS AND MEDS: A joint effort by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health seeks to advance biomedical data science through "multidisciplinary approaches that involve experts in quantitative disciplines such as mathematics, statistics, and computer science." The agencies say: "The explosion in the availability of biomedical big data from disparate sources, and the complex data structures including images, networks, and graphs, pose significant challenges in terms of visualization, modeling, and analysis." Learn more about the Initiative on Quantitative Approaches to Biomedical Big Data.

NEEDED - MORE AGRICULTURE INNOVATORS: A global population increase combined with the pressures of "climate change, pests, pathogens, soil loss, and availability of land and water" creates an overwhelming need for innovation in agriculture, the White House says. Yet, the United States faces a predicted shortfall of as many as 100,000 "appropriately trained professionals" over the next five years. We also need "professionals with broader training that integrates agricultural sciences and other STEM disciplines." The Office of Science and Technology Policy is seeking commitments from institutions to "increase the number and diversity of agriculturally trained workers in the United States at all levels of education"; and to "expand research and training in higher education in areas that are experiencing particularly serious workforce shortages and are central to meeting future food needs." Those that step up are promised some sort of White House recognition.


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock. Click here for a larger, more readable version. Check out the item "Higher Ed and Sustainability" below.


SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER: While lawmakers are out on a lengthy recess, staff discussions are said to be under way on:

  • A House-Senate conference that could lead to passage of major energy legislation. Both chambers have passed versions of S. 2012. The Senate's bill calls for steady increases in R&D over the next four years, while the House would authorize funding only through FY 2017. Still, there are parts of the House bill university reps like - among them fusion research and tech transfer.
  • Possible Senate passage of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, the latest reauthorization of America COMPETES. The measure won bipartisan support in committee. Supporters hope it can be fast-tracked by the Senate under Unanimous Consent. Then the question is whether it can be merged with the House COMPETES reauthorization in a way that the research and higher ed community finds acceptable.


DON'T CALL THEM HEARING AIDS: A National Academies panel recommends that the Food and Drug Administration establish a new category of over-the-counter "wearable hearing devices," separate from hearing aids, for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. Studies show just a fraction of Americans with hearing loss currently wear hearing aids. Meanwhile, "immense demand for affordable and easy-to-deliver hearing health care in developing countries is resulting in innovations in the design of hearing aids and hearing assistive technologies aimed at increasing affordability and simplifying use." Generally, the report says "[e]fforts are needed across the academic, private, government, and nonprofit sectors to provide the research, outcome measures, and standards needed to improve hearing health care." See a presentation to the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. 

FRONTIERS OF ENGINEERING: See the topics and participants at the next symposium.


HIGHER ED AND SUSTAINABILITY: A new primer, "Sustainable Development Primer for Higher Education Presidents, Chancellors, Trustees and Senior Leaders," describes the sustainability-related, crucial roles and tasks for presidents, trustees, and senior leadership and explains how sustainability is a robust national trend in higher education. The primer is from the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC), a network of associations committed to advancing sustainability within the entire system of higher education.

SEEKING BIDS: The deadline for presentation of bids to host the 2018 World Engineering Education Forum-Global Engineering Deans Council (WEEF/GEDC 2018) has been extended to September 1, 2016. Contact Hans Hoyer, Secretary General, IFEES (http://www.ifees.net); Executive Secretary, GEDC (www.gedcouncil.org) Here's a link to this year's event in Seoul.

eGFI Summer Reading: Is your school hosting an engineering camp, bridge program, or professional development session for K-12 teachers this summer? Jump-start the learning with eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's award-winning magazine for middle and high school students. Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, eGFI aims to get teens fired up about 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.