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February 12, 2015




Conservatives left a House Republican caucus meeting still opposed to using FY 2017 budget numbers from the two-year deal crafted by former Speaker John Boehner, numbers higher than allowed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, CQ reports. Boehner's successor, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reportedly reminded the caucus "that they don’t have to do a budget or appropriations bills, but it would be a shame if they did not." He laid out three other options: Pass a budget "at sequester spending levels, with the result that the Senate likely would block all spending bills and a stopgap spending bill eventually would be passed"; increase just defense spending, with the same result; or "respect the budget agreement and . . . the higher fiscal 2017 numbers. That would lead to the best chance to pass appropriations bills through regular order." No decision will come until Congress returns the week of Feb. 22. "Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., said his panel is still planning to mark up the budget resolution that week." See below for highlights of the Obama administration's budget.

HOUSE VOTES TO REQUIRE THAT NSF JUSTIFY GRANTS AS IN THE 'NATIONAL INTEREST': Passed 236 – 178, the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act is strongly opposed by the White House, which has threatened a veto if it clears Congress. When it was introduced by House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), left, Science's Jeff Mervis wrote that it incorporated the most contentious part of the House-passed COMPETES reauthorization. However, the bill's original cosponsors include two Democrats, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois and Alan Grayson of Florida. It would require that each NSF grant be justified in writing as meeting one of these national interest criteria: potential to increase U.S. economic competitiveness; advance health and welfare; develop a globally competitive STEM workforce; increase public scientific literacy and engagement with science and technology; increase academic-industry partnerships; support national defense; or promote the progress of science. White House science adviser John Holdren calls the bill "both unnecessary and potentially damaging."

U.S. 'CAN SURELY DO BETTER THAN 10': So declared Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) during a Capitol discussion of a study ranking the United States 10th in policies that encourage global innovation, Atlantic Media reports. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation applied various measures, including R&D, education, tax incentives, trade barriers, and intellectual property protection. The top countries, in ITIF's assessment, include Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and South Korea. The Global Innovation Index  produced by INSEAD, Cornell, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, places the United States fifth (see graphic below).



Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Source: Global Innovation Index 2015



The president's FY 2017 budget would provide $152 billion government-wide, $6.2 billion above current levels, according to an Association of American Universities summary based on administration documents. Basic research would be up 3 percent, to $34.5 billion. Applied research would rise by 8 percent, to $38.4 billion.

. . . BUT THERE'S A CATCH: The White House "is proposing that budget increases for several agencies — including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) — be funded using mandatory, as well as discretionary, funding. The Republican-led Congress is not likely to go along," according to AAU, which comments: "The budget sets aspirational goals for research funding, which we commend, but, other than energy research, the proposed investments rely on mandatory funding streams that Congress will not seriously consider." AAU also criticizes proposed "deep cuts in basic research at the Department of Defense."


NSF - $8 billion, a 6.7 percent increase, which includes $400 million in mandatory spending. "Much of that extra money would go to support younger researchers," reports Nature. See an NSF summary table. Key topics include a clean energy economy; the brain; disaster resilience; food, energy, water; advanced manufacturing; and commercialization of university research. There's $332 million for Graduate Research Fellowships.

NIH - $33.1 billion, 2.6 percent above 2016, including "about $1.8 billion in mandatory spending," writes Nature. A breakdown by AAU notes $300 million for the White House's Precision Medicine Initiative; $195 million to the BRAIN Initiative; and an increase of $755 million for the vice president's cancer "moon shot."

NASA - $19 billion—$300 million less than Congress appropriated for 2016. NASA science "would remain essentially flat, at $5.6 billion. . . Earth sciences would get a $111-million boost to $2 billion, to continue the development of missions such as the IceSAT-2 cryosphere-monitoring satellite and a follow-on to the GRACE gravity satellites that measure changes in groundwater and ice," Nature reports. The budget accelerates "plans for the next Landsat remote-sensing satellite."

ENERGY Office of Science - $5.7 billion, 6 percent above 2016. Winners include "advanced computing, basic energy sciences, and biological and environmental research," according to Nature. "The only significant decrease would be for nuclear fusion, which would see its funding cut by 9%, to $398 million."

DEFENSE S&T - $12.5 billion, down 5.7 percent. Basic research would be cut by 9 percent to $2.1 billion; applied research would be cut by 3.8 percent, getting $4.8 billion, and advanced technology development would get $5.58 billion, a 6 percent cut. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency would get a 2.8 percent increase to $2.97 billion.



Members can vote by logging on to the ASEE website and clicking on the box that says: 2016 ASEE Board Elections.

ERC REGISTRATION AND HOUSING: The Engineering Research Council's annual conference will be held March 7-9 at the Sheraton Hotel in Silver Spring, Md. Visit this link to take advantage of discounted registration rates. Click here to reserve your hotel room. Find more information, including a preliminary program, here.

NORTHEAST SECTION CONFERENCE: The section, with members from  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as Eastern Canada, will hold its annual conference at the University of Rhode Island from Thursday, April 28th, 2016 to Saturday
April 30, 2016. The theme will be “Revolutionizing Engineering Education.” See the conference website. The student poster abstract deadline is March 1. Please encourage your undergraduate students to submit their capstone design projects, independent research projects, or other projects in a poster format.  Graduate students can submit their project, thesis, or dissertation work as well in a poster format.  The abstracts must be less than 1,200 words.


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.

PANEL MEMBERS SOUGHT: Engineering educators sometimes have trouble regularly revising coursework to include the fundamentals of new technologies. This issue is to be reviewed during a panel discussion, “Education and Promotion of New Technologies,” at the Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 Conference in Orlando, Florida, March 12-15, 2017. The International Geosynthetic Society – North American Chapter is seeking panel members representing various technologies and-or materials who have had difficulty getting them incorporated into coursework. If you are interested in being on this panel, please contact Bob Mackey (407-475-9163; bmackey@s2li.com).

A FACULTY WORKSHOP on Professional Skills Assessment will be held Saturday, April 16, 2016 at Penn State Berks. Researchers and educators will share their work on assessment and learn how to implement and use Peer Evaluation Assessment Resource (PEAR) software.  This workshop is supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) project called A Modular Assessment Framework for Professional Skills Using A Model of Domain Learning Approach. The workshop is free but space is limited. For more information and registration, please visit: http://sites.psu.edu/psa2016/

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.