Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

July 15, 2016



The Obama administration announced an Advanced Wireless Research Initiative with spectrum policies and research that it says will, collectively, "accelerate the deployment of a new generation of wireless networks that are up to 100 times faster than today." Advances could include emergency rooms getting  real-time video and sensor data from ambulances before the patient arrives; five-second movie downloads; and factory equipment that heals its own flaws. See the White House fact sheet. and a related National Science Foundation announcement. Also: NSF/Intel Partnership on Information-Centric Networking; Wireless Innovation between Finland and US; and Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research.

RENEWED PUSH FOR SMART GUNS: The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security invite public comment on "generic baseline specifications for law enforcement service pistols with additional technology to enhance the security of firearms." They hope for responses from a range of people - "academics to advocates; engineers to entrepreneurs." The administration says: "By establishing clear technical and engineering standards, this process is designed to ensure that any smart gun technology available to law enforcement agencies is safe and reliable." See the draft.

CALLING I-CORPS GRADS: An NSF Engineering Directorate solicitation "is designed to support innovative ideas and partnerships in the translation of NSF-funded fundamental science and engineering discoveries, or fundamental science and engineering discoveries that have been vetted through the Customer Discovery process of the National I-Corps (Innovation Corps) program, toward market-valued solutions." Besides putting research discoveries on a path toward commercial reality, it aims for "engagement of faculty and students in entrepreneurial/innovative thinking."

STEM AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES: NSF's Education and Human Resources directorate seeks R&D proposals that advance STEM learning while "exploring solutions to multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary global challenges in either formal or informal settings for learners of all ages and prior educational experience, including learners traditionally under-represented in STEM." Examples: ". . . increasing the availability of fresh vegetables or potable water locally or internationally; creation of a network of course-based research experiences to inform STEM policy work; (and) novel use of social media and flash mob strategies to initiate community Change Maker teams." Learn more.

10 BIG DEAS: Looking ahead, NSF is setting its sights on: "harnessing data for 21st century science and engineering; shaping the New Human – Technology Frontier; understanding the rules of life: predicting phenotype; the Quantum Leap: leading the next quantum revolution; navigating the New Arctic; Windows on the Universe: the era of multi-messenger astrophysics; growing convergent research at NSF; mid-scale research Infrastructure; (and) NSF 2050." The last idea will identify "bold, long-term foundational research questions to set the stage for breakthrough science and engineering all the way to NSF’s Centennial." Learn more. 

ALGAE BLOOMS: The University of California-San Diego, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, and CalPoly University will share in up to $15 million from the Department of Energy "for three projects aimed at reducing the production costs of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts." DOE says the projects will "advance the research and development of advanced biofuel technologies to speed the commercialization of renewable, domestically produced, and affordable fossil-fuel replacements."



After 13 or 14 years with a Ph.D., Asian male academic scientists and engineers drew top salaries, followed - in order - by white men, white women, underrepresented minority men, and underrepresented minority women. Asian women were at the bottom. See the numbers. The series of graphics are accompanied by tables. One shows lower-than-average salaries for black and African-American engineers at all age levels. 



USE AS DIRECTED: House appropriators paired their $1.25 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health with strict instructions. Besides targeting $100 million more for Precision Medicine, $350 million more for Alzheimer’s disease, and an increase of $45 million for the BRAIN initiative, they say:  "The Committee expects . . . a success rate of no less than 20 percent with at least 11,175 new Research Project Grants." NIH "shall continue its focus on emerging investigators and first-time renewals of these young investigators with actions to significantly reduce the average age of an NIH-supported new investigator. . . The Committee expects NIH to support an increased number of Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards and other training grants (and) a stipend level increase to training grantees." See the committee report.

. . . AND THE VETO BAIT: "The Committee also includes provisions prohibiting the continued implementation of 'Obamacare' and the resulting savings has been put toward these higher priorities."

NOT INCLUDED: Among education programs sought by the administration that appropriators refused to fund: the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps; Computer Science for All Development Grants; and the Education Department's Mathematics and Science Partnerships. 

POINTLESS EXERCISE? House Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), in photo above, praised his panel for "considering and approving every single one of the 12 annual appropriations bills." But appropriators' efforts may not become law before the cycle of spending legislation resumes sometime next year. Senate Democrats have blocked the defense appropriations measure, CQ reports. ""What we don't want is Defense-only appropriations and everything else in a CR," the Senate Democrats' ranking appropriator, Barbara A. Mikulski said. Signs are mounting that the Republican majority will opt for a longterm continuing resolution, maintaining funding at current levels. CQ says Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn and  Finance Chair Orrin G. Hatch are leaning that way, as are House conservatives.


STAYING IN THE LEAD: A Natrional Academies report recommends ways the National Science Foundation can achieve four broad goals in advanced computing: "(1) position the U.S. for continued leadership in science and engineering, (2) ensure that resources meet community needs, (3) aid the scientific community in keeping up with the revolution in computing, and (4) sustain the infrastructure for advanced computing."

BELARUS BECKONS: At a workshop, Belarus representatives "suggested a range of possible activities for future collaboration," including  medical and bioinformatics, earth remote sensing, agriculture and food production, laser technologies, biotechnology, applications for 3D printing, chemistry, and green energy; training technology transfer staff; and the new BelBioGrad, the National Scientific and Technical Park for pharmacy and biotechnologies in Minsk. Read the report.


ASSESSING THE REACTION ON 3 & 5: "We appreciate all the feedback," on the proposed criteria changes, ABET says in its Catalyst newsletter. "Now that your suggestions have been read and classified, our criteria committee is meeting this week to discuss further." 

Check out ABET's video and story entitled, "Teaching Ethics in Light of Flint and Volkswagen."

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.