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                                 February 23, 2019



Groups representing universities and research institutions are bracing for a tight-fisted White House budget and the return of draconian spending limits mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). They're asking lawmakers to strike another bipartisan budget deal lifting the caps and are preparing to seek increases above inflation for government-funded research in FY 2020. Where the numbers sought haven't been announced, they seek "robust and sustained" funding. The groups are encouraged by several years of congressional support for R&D, including the $8.075 billion for the National Science Foundation included in a recent seven-bill package that completed appropriations for the current fiscal year. President Trump has yet to veto a spending agreement approved with bipartisan support even after submitting budgets with drastic cuts. In a letter to congressional leaders and to Mick Mulvaney, upper left, director of the Office of Management and Budget and White House interim chief of staff, the Association of American Universiti9es and Association of Public and Land Grant Universities say discretionary spending cuts slated for the next two years under the BCA damage scientific research, higher  education, and U.S. leadership in innovation. The Coalition for National Security Research, which advocates for Pentagon basic research, says a return to BCA levels "would result in substantially fewer resources for the Defense S&T program."

'BIG IDEAS,' YES, BUT KEEP UP CORE RESEARCH: The American Institute of Physics' FYI bulletin reports that House and Senate appropriations panels  "endorse NSF’s '10 Big Ideas' concept, but do not specify funding amounts for them. NSF requested $343 million in total to implement the ideas. The Senate report expresses support for NSF using the ideas as a 'focusing tool,' while also directing the agency to 'maintain its core research at levels not less than those provided in fiscal year 2017.' The House report also recommends NSF use the Big Ideas framework to support mid-scale infrastructure for high energy laser technologies." See the final FY 2019 numbers for NSF, NASA, NIST and USDA below and click here for a detailed analysis by Lewis Burke Associates. 

TRUMP'S WAR CHEST: Politico reports that the White House "plans to stuff as much as $174 billion of its $750 billion request" for defense in FY 2020 into a war fund that would allow the Pentagon to avoid BCA spending limits. However, "both Democrats and Republicans in Congress warn that Trump's gambit won't fly." If they stick to that position, the White House will be pressured into joining negotiations aimed at liffting the budget caps. Otherwise, "it could mean a quick demise for the military's ambitious investment plans." 

LESSON IN SURVIVAL: If this year's administration budget is consistent with previous ones, the White House will again seek to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, authorized by the original COMPETES Act. You can count among its strong supporters Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, who introduced legislation to reauthorize ARPA-E in 2017. The panel's Energy Subcommittee holds a hearing Tuesday entitled The Future of ARPA-E. Witnesses include two former directors (pictured): Arun Majumdar of Stanford and Ellen Williams of the  University of Maryland. 


REVIEW OR REJECT? Princeton physicist William Happer (left photo) has had a distinguished career, including as Department of Energy research director, but his views on climate change are "sharply at odds with the established scientific consensus," the New York Times reports. Now he is heading a new Presidential Committee on Climate Security, which E&E News characterizes as "an effort to downplay the national security risks posed by climate change." A White House memo says those risks “have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review." It's so far unknown how Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is reacting. During a recent appearance in Washington, "he made passing mention of climate change," and told Science magazine his work as a meteorologist "is actually at the opposite end of the spectrum." The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing Tuesday entitled Understanding the Changing Climate System and the Role of Climate Research.

THE KEY TO U.S. PREEMINENCE: It's not more federal funding, in Droegemeier's view, "but stronger collaborations among government, industry, academia, and private foundations," Science reports. He cites companies and foundations pouring large sums into research, and says "major research universities are putting a lot of skin in the game as well.” He proposes a network of industry-funded “alpha institutes” on campuses, where academic, corporate, and government researchers would tackle “some of the biggest challenges facing humanity” with time and opportunity to pursue ideas “without the administrative burdens that encumber us today.” See a video of Droegemeier's address to AAAS and a recently issued White House document entitled Science and Technology Highligts - Year 2. It pledges that under Droegemeier, "OSTP will continue supporting American scientists and technologists and working with the interagency and other collaborators to ensure that the United States maintains and accelerates global leadership in scientific and technological advancement."

COLLABORATING WITH COMPETITORS: Speaking to the National Science Board last week, former board members Anita Jones and Barry Barish "stressed that the National Science Foundation will have to navigate an increasingly global R&D enterprise," AIP's FYI bulletin reports. "Jones, who formerly oversaw research programs at the Defense Department, expressed interest in NSF articulating what it means to productively collaborate with scientists from countries that are considered to be national competitors. Barish argued cooperation will increasingly be required in science given that the U.S. will no longer dominate the world in terms of its total R&D investments, saying the U.S. should instead focus on remaining the 'place of choice' to do science. Both also recommended that NSF change its grantmaking policies to enable greater risk-taking."

ALL-INCLUSIVE: NSF's INCLUDES initiative, one of its "10 Big Ideas," is offering supplemental funding to NSF awardees who are not part of the INCLUDES network. Funding can support opportunities aimed at "a collaborative infrastructure for broadening participation in NSF-funded research activities"; linkages between current activities, or "new ideas to bring a community of NSF-funded projects into the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Learn more.


Source: Lewis-Burke Associates


KEY QUESTIONS IN INNOVATION: How often do firms obtain the inventions underlying their new commercialized products (i.e., innovations) from outside sources? How available are inventions within the innovation ecosystem? • Who are the sources of inventions? Are they buyers, users, universities, government laboratories, or other firms in the industry? • Through what channels are innovations acquired? Licensing, cooperative relationships, or other arrangements? • What is the relative value of inventions across sources? • How do firm capabilities affect their acquisitions of inventions and knowledge from the outside? Read the report of a National Academies workshop that explored innovation environment of the 21st century.


Join an ASEE delegation to Chile this spring, May 26 – June 1

Led by Bev Watford, ASEE Past President, the program will give you an unfiltered lens into exciting innovations in Chilean engineering education. Professional visits will focus on topics such as Chile`s Engineering 2030 Project; The Clover Project; Admission standards for engineering programs;  Curriculum for undergraduate and graduate programs; Visits to engineering laboratories; Integration between universities and industries; internships, lecturing, drivers of commercial development; Innovation development; Research support and funding. Learn more


Apply Today: Challenging Implicit Bias Train the Trainer Program

Receive the tools and training needed to prepare and deliver implicit bias workshops at your institution with the new train the trainer program Training for Action: Challenging Implicit Bias. This three-part program will commence with a full-day workshop on June 15th in conjunction with the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference. AHipplication open now! Learn more and apply: https://goo.gl/NSQMwF

New Two-Part Webinar Event: Engineering Inclusive Classrooms

Join us for a new two-part webinar event to learn actionable strategies for engineering inclusive classrooms. During this event, Dr. Tershia Pinder-Grover (University of Michigan, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering) will explore classroom climate, discuss key principles behind inclusive teaching, and provide attendees with techniques for engineering inclusive classrooms. Registration is free for ASEE members! Learn more and register for Parts 1 and 2 at http://www.asee.org/webinars



The 2019 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be held April 14–17, 2019, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Crystal City, Va. (future site of Amazon’s HQ2). ASEE members qualify for a discount.
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Connect with Department Chairs at the ASEE Annual Conference
Learn the best practices of successful department chairs on June 16th at the 2019 Chairs Conclave in Tampa, FL. Designed by chairs, for chairs, the Chairs Conclave is an exclusive forum for engineering and engineering technology department chairs to exchange ideas and experiences, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. Learn more and register today – seating is limited – at https://chairsconclave.asee.org.


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SIGN UP FOR THE EARLY-BIRD REGISTRATION RATE 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.

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