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                                   June 1, 2019



Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) are lead sponsors of legislation intended "to protect valuable intellectual property without stifling global cooperation," Jeff Mervis reports in Science. With bipartisan support from the chair and ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and members of Armed Services, they hope to attach their bill to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which sets national security policy. As Langevin describes it, "The bill promotes standardization of federal agency approaches to academic espionage while maintaining collaboration and a welcoming environment for foreign talent at our institutions of higher education." Called Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019, the measure would create an interagency working group under the White House-based National Science and Technology Council to improve coordination between  science and security agencies and develop common definitions and reporting requirements. It also gives academe a voice through a Science, Technology, and Security Roundtable at the National Academies. Leading science and higher education groups, including the Association of American Universities and American Association for the Advancement of Science, are strong supporters.

ENERGY STORAGE FOR GRIDS LARGE AND SMALL: Two national labs - and institutional partners - are working to crack one of the toughest nuts in shifting U.S. electric power from fossil fuels to renewables. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear Tuesday from George Crabtree (left photo), director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at Argonne National Laboratory. While his testimony hasn't been published, Argonne boasts recent advances in solid-state lithium batteries and aims for designs "capable of significantly higher energy capacity than today’s lithium-ion batteries." Martin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, offered a different approach to the problem at a  May 21 hearing before the Senate panel.: Autonomous Energy Grids, which "could self-organize and control themselves across all parts of the grid using advanced machine learning and simulation." Fortune magazine calls energy storage "the mother of all frothy markets."

SCRUTINY OF FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS: A House Oversight subcommittee seems to have picked up where Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) left off. At a hearing May 22, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).lit into the Department of Education, calling it "derelict in its duties to combat the rampant and flagrant abuses of predatory institutions and the enabling accreditors who let them sell worthless degrees." Questioned as to why the administration hasn't resolved 158,000 student borrower claims, Diane Auer Jones, the department's acting under secretary, told the panel, "We are not able to determine the level of harm or level of relief a borrower should get because the methodology we have used is being blocked by a California court." She also said the agency is working on a "number of potential regulatory changes to help identify at-risk institutions earlier, and put more substantive teach-out plans in place earlier so students have a clear pathway to credential completion in the event that the school closes."

LONGTIME APPOPRIATOR DIES: Thad Cochran (R-Miss.),  81, who retired from the Senate last year, served 39 years in that chamber following six years in the House. As a member and ultimately chairman of Appropriations chairman, he "was a dependable provider for his home state," CQ reports.  

PRESERVING AN AI ADVANTAGE: That's the aim of the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), which would provide $2.2 billion over five years "to build an AI-ready workforce, accelerating the responsible delivery of AI applications from government agencies, academia, and the private sector," a Heinrich statement says.


INVENTIVE EXCUSES: The latest semi-annual report by the National Science Foundation's inspector general highlights several episodes involving one professor. Explaining why he altered a figure in a manuscript, the professor said  his students had not properly analyzed the experimental data, so it was a correction, not a falsification. An investigative committee didn't believe him. In another instance, he came up with an analysis of data provided by a student, who then realized he had forwarded the wrong sample. "The IC concluded the data provided by the professor were fabricated." In a third case in which his data were questioned, the professor claimed a colleague had given it to him at a conference. But it turned out the professor did not attend the conference and the colleague did not exist. 

$200,000 RECOVERED: It took a referral to a U.S. attorney, but eventually a university agreed to return money misused following two NSF awards. The university had posted expenditures knowing there were no supporting documents and charged the awards "for unallowable items including furniture, cell phones, and expenses associated with a student who did not meet program requirements." The IG has also gone after several Small Business Innovative Research and Technology Transfer entities to recoup misspent funds.

PUSH THE ENVELOPE: If there's going to be a "quantum revolution," the nation is going to need more research capacity in quantum computing and information science, NSF has concluded. The QCIS-Faculty Fellows (QCIS-FF) program "seeks to support departments and schools . . . that conduct research and teaching in computer science, information science, and/or computer engineering, with the specific goal of encouraging hiring of tenure-track and tenured faculty in quantum computing and/or communication." Learn more

RESEARCH TRIUMPHS ON SCREEN: "Basic research, funded by NSF, has created many of the critical industries, tools and products that drive life in the 21st century," Director France Córdova says. A new video captures many of them. 

'DISRUPTIONEERING': That's the name the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has attached to a new strategy of small, targeted investments intended to produce faster responses. "Disruptioneering will enable DARPA to initiate a new investment in less than 90 days from idea inception. To enable this approach, the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) will issue Disruption Opportunities (DO) via targeted Pre-Solicitation Notices. These Pre-Solicitation Notices will focus on technical domains important to DSO’s mission pursuing innovative research concepts that explore frontiers in math, computation and design; limits of sensing and sensors; complex social systems; and anticipating surprise." Learn more here and also here. 

IS ANYONE WATCHING? The intelligence community plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on artifical intelligence, but "there is little indication  that  investments  in  oversight of AI are currently a high priority," the IC's inspector general writes. "[A]uthorities may lack the people, tools, and focus needed to effectively evaluate vulnerabilities in AI technologies as well as the analytic integrity and legality of AI methods, uses, and products. The unintended, but nevertheless likely, outcome of investment asymmetry in the Intelligence Community’s AI efforts will be reduced trust in those efforts." The IG is intend on preventing "an accountability deficit." 

See the AIM Strategy put out by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the office's current research initiatives


• Registration has opened for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education’s Rural Community College Grant Application convenings. The Department and the American Association of Community Colleges will be cohosting two convenings to help rural community colleges identify, plan, and design projects for federal grant applications. Activities will include facilitated workshops and information from federal agencies with upcoming grant opportunities. Please register a team from your community to attend the event below that is nearest to your college:
o June 6–7 at Gateway Technical College, Racine, Wisconsin
o Sept. 12–13 at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Biloxi, Mississippi

PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDEES: Eugene DeLoatch (right),  professor and dean of engineering emeritus at at Morgan State University, and Tyrone Taborn, publisher and chief executive officer of Career Communications Group, Inc., have together received a 2019 National Science Board Public Service Award. They were recognized "for founding the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) conference and for their dedication to enhancing scientific and engineering literacy in minority communities." Photos: BEYA



Semiannual Report to Congress, National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General

Karen E. White, Science and Engineering Publication Output Trends: 2017 Shows U.S. Output Level Slightly Below That of China but the United States Maintains Lead with Highly Cited Publications, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF) 


IEEE BANS HUAWEI REVIEWERS: In the latest repercussion of the government's crackdown on the Chinese tech behemoth, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) "told editors of its roughly 200 journals yesterday that it feared 'severe legal implications' from continuing to use Huawei scientists as reviewers in vetting technical papers. They can continue to serve on IEEE editorial boards, according to the memo, but 'cannot handle any papers' until the sanctions are lifted," ScienceInsider reports. "The IEEE ban has sparked outrage among Chinese scientists on social media."

UNIVERSITIES SPURN RESEARCH MONEY: Universities that have stopped accepting Huawei support include Stanford, the University of California- San Diego, the Universities of Illinois, Minnesota and Washington, Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley, along with the University of Oxford, according to Inside Higher Ed. "Many institutions have stopped using Huawei equipment on campus, as well." Some professors "question why they aren't involved in making decisions on bans." John Ousterhout, a professor of computer science at Stanford, received about $500,000 a year in unrestricted grants and "had been in talks with Huawei about upping that funding to about $2 million a year." He is quoted as saying, "“There was no faculty input in the decision. This whole process is not one that is appropriate for a university, where we do things in the open and make reason-based decisions following arguments and counterarguments.” A Huawei blogger touts the benefits from collaboration. 



Department Chairs' Best Practices

Register for the 2019 Chairs Conclave–taking place June 16th in Tampa, FL–to connect with department chairs and learn the best practices of successful chairs. Topics covered include leadership skills, department culture, faculty evaluations, and entrepreneurship for chairs. The Chairs Conclave is an exclusive forum for engineering and engineering technology department chairs to exchange ideas, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. Learn more and register today–seating is limited–at https://chairsconclave.asee.org.

SIGN UP FOR ADVANCE MEMBER REGISTRATION at ASEE's 126th Annual Conference, June 15 - 19, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. The conference features more than 400 technical sessions, with peer-reviewed papers spanning all disciplines of engineering education. Click here to register.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE ACCELERATOR: ASEE's free monthly newsletter for undergraduate and graduate students has a wide array of resources: scholarship and internship/co-op listings, student news and essays, podcasts, professional development resources (e.g., advice on how to get an internship and how to make the most of it), and academic advice - plus entertaining engineering videos. Tell your students! Click here to subscribe. Send content to Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org.

FIRE UP THE FUTURE WITH eGFI: Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, the latest edition of ASEE's award-winning Engineering, Go For It is sure to get your students excited about learning - and doing - engineering!

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