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                                   July 21, 2018



Only a handful of FY 2019 spendingt bills have been adopted on the floor in either the House or Senate. This means lawmakers "will likely have to pass a stopgap continuing resolution for at least some agencies to provide additional time for final negotiations," reports David Parkes of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But assessing progress so far, he sees appropriators "largely shielding research programs targeted for cuts by the Trump Administration." The Senate panel "has completed markups on all 12 of its annual spending bills, with research lined up for a new high" and basic research a specific priority. House appropriators, while "overall less generous," have similarly resisted the administration's proposed cuts.(See the AAAS appropriations dashboard.)

Reporting on the defense spending bill, The American Institute of Physics' FYI notes that basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development have increased in recent years, but less dramatically than later-stage R&D. "Proposals for their future diverge. The House is looking to roll back their combined budgets by 3 percent, from $14.9 billion to $14.4 billion, which is still higher than the administration’s request of $13.7 billion. However, Senate appropriators are proposing a 4 percent increase to $15.4 billion, including an unusually marked increase for basic research."

GROWING UP: House appropriators want the Department of Agriculture to "work towards advancing technologies" in "urban  agriculture,  vertical  farming, aquaponics and other forms of non-traditional agriculture." They've directed USDA "to  evaluate  current  needs in  this  field,  compare  the  needs  with  current  or  planned  activities," and report back. A Prism story offers some background. The lawmakers also direct the agency to "invest in the  research  and  development  of  novel  bio-detection  technologies and  the  implementation  of  mobile  bio-detection  platforms."

HIGHER CALLING: Georgia Tech professor John-Paul Clarke, along with witnesses from NASA, Uber, and elsewhere will appear before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee next week at a hearing to examine "the potential benefits and challenges of ‘flying cars’ or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircrafts from a public and private sector perspective, including discussion of when such technology may be commercially available." See the hearing live.



PAGE 3 OF MOORE's LAW describes research Gordon Moore considered necessary to realize the continued expansion of computing capacity. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has created six "Page 3" programs to meet these challenges. Jay Lewis (right photo), deputy director of DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office, will announce the chosen teams at the July 23-25 Electronics Resurgence Initiative Summit  in San Francisco. Erica Fuchs, a professor in Carnegie-Mellon's engineering and public policy department, will address "Science and Policy at the End of Moore's Law."

OFF-GRID DESALINATION: The Department of Energy is funding 14 projects to the tune of $21 million aimed at "reducing the cost of solar-thermal desalination and helping the technology to reach new markets, including to areas that are not connected to the electric grid. See the winners. Separately, the department plans to fund 4-6 projects totalling up to $3.6 million for "early-stage R&D applications in machine learning" to develop geothermal technologies.

CALTECH took first place at the Department of Energy's Cleantech University business plan competition, in which 23 teams  pitched clean energy projects to industry leaders and investors. ETC Solar, the Caltech spinoff, developed "a novel solar cell architecture that increases solar panel efficiency by 5 percent." 

WHITHER ARPA-E? That's a question prompted by the White House announcement that President Trump intends to nominate investment adviser S. Lane Genatowski to lead the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Observers wonder whether he "is equipped to lead a small, tight-knit agency where discussions can touch on the latest developments in fields as diverse as nuclear fusion and batteries," ScienceInsider reports.

WHAT's AHEAD FOR AI: A highlight of this week's National Science Board meeting was a panel discussion moderated by Carnegie Mellon computer science dean Andrew W. Moore (far left, above). Other speakers were, from left, Michael Jordan of the University of California, Berkeley; Daniela Rus of MIT; Charles Isbell, Jr. of Georgia Tech, and Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. See below for what NSF is now funding. 

U.S.-CHINA COLLABORATION: This topic is much on the minds of policy- and lawmakers concerned about loss of intellectual property and national security secrets. But there's much to be gained by joint fundamental research on environmental sustainability, according to the National Science Foundation. NSF has teamed up with the National Natural Science Foundation of China to encourage research partnerships in the areas of food, energy, and water; urban sustainability, global change, and manufacturing. Learn more.


Source: Presentation to the National Science Board by Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.


SPOUSAL WORK PERMITS: A Trump administration plan to exclude certain spouses of H-1B visa holders from work eligibility could affect both the tech industry and international recruitment by American universities, according to reports in the San Jose Mercury News and University World News. The latter report says there may be increased turnover of international staff at universities. 


UBER, LYFT, AND PUBLIC TRANSIT: A National Academies report offers broad guidelines that can help transit agencies deal with transportation network companies "to maintain and support transit and increase affordable, environmentally sound transportation options for a wide range of users. . . . Partnerships and policies should focus on fostering structures where transit agencies’ and TNCs’ incentives are aligned, while continuing to meet the public interest." Read the report.



. . . And from 2018 CoNECD, the Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference. Find those presentations here.

SEND US AN ANECDOTE: Prism magazine is putting together a special edition in honor of ASEE's 125th anniversary—and we would love to hear from you! How has your membership influenced your career? For instance, did connections made at a conference help you land a job? Were you inspired to alter your teaching or perhaps create a robotics league? Please leave a few sentences to let us know, as well as your name and email address so that we can follow up. The best quotes will appear in the upcoming special issue! Click here to join the survey. 

The Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) editorial team is considering changes to our strategic plan, processes for publishing articles, and formats for articles. We would like to gather input from members of the engineering education community to help better inform these decisions. Please complete this survey to provide your feedback. The survey is short and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

ASEE AT 125 VIDEO CONTEST: One of the activities planned to mark ASEE‘s 125th anniversary is EEin25, the first-ever ASEE video contest. Undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students may submit a 90-second video on where engineering education will be in 25 years at ASEE‘s 150th Anniversary in 2043. Click here to find out more. Click here to learn about other activities commemorating 125 Years at the Heart of Engineering Education.

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