Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

March 19, 2015




Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.) who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that funds the National Science Foundation, says he has a "keen interest" in decadal surveys by the National Academies. "We need to find a way" to have one for NSF that provides an "honest, objective assessment of what the needs are," he said at a hearing on the agency's FY 2017 budget. Culberson's panel put language into NASA's FY 2016 appropriation measure "to ensure" that it followed decadal survey recommendations, he noted. While NSF currently participates in certain topic-area surveys, Culberson spoke of a "formal process" for the whole agency. He urged NSF Director France Córdova to "be thinking about it." While such a survey could limit NSF flexibility, the congressman sounded most intent on cutting the Office of Management and Budget out of setting priorities. See accounts of the hearing by ScienceInsider and the American Institute of Physics.

LAWMAKERS BACK OFF SETTING DIRECTORATE-LEVEL BUDGETS: Culberson previously went along with an effort by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, to assign specific spending levels for NSF directorates - something the agency opposed. But he told Córdova this week, "I want also to avoid directorate-level funding. I think it's important that we not insert political agendas from either end of the political spectrum.“ Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) are circulating a letter urging appropriators not make directorate-level funding decisions.  

'A TIDAL WAVE': That's how Córdova characterized student interest in computer science, based on word from an NSF advisory committee. This would include cybersecurity. She told appropriators she's challenged NSF's computer directorate (CISE) to come up with "big, bold ideas" and to "be on top of the latest developments." Speaking about her signature cross-directorate INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science) initiative, Córdova said she's asked university presidents to serve as principal investigators, as she had in the previous ADVANCE program. Besides institutional commitment, "partnerships with the broader community" and with community colleges will be important. "I'm really hoping for some innovation in this space." See charts below showing NSF directorate budget trends and success rates. 

NO FIREWORKS: The House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology seemed to take in stride the Obama administration's request for an 88 percent budget hike for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). ASME's Capitol Update quotes chair Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) as saying merely that "my colleagues and I will be asking questions this morning about that increase and other aspects of NNMI.”  She spoke at a hearing on the FY 2017 budget for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  "A number of NIST’s manufacturing program efforts received high-praise at the hearing, including the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program and the NNMI," ASME reports.

DEMOCRATS WANT EMERGENCY SPENDING BILL: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, Calif.) is demanding an emergency supplemental appropriation to cope with the Zika virus, water crisis in Flint, Mich., and the rise in opioid abuse, CQ reports. The Democrats' proposal has "elicited cool responses from House and Senate Republicans," according to CQ. Historically, supplementals have had a way of drawing spending items well beyond their intended purpose. Meanwhile, House appropriators seem intent on proceeding with FY 2017 spending measures with or without House passage of a budget. 


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock. For a larger version click here.  


SOLAR POWER FOR DEEP SPACE: Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab is among four winners of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Game Changing Development (GCD) program. The purpose is "to develop solar array technologies that will aid spacecraft in exploring destinations well beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars." Such missions "will require solar arrays that can operate in high-radiation and low-temperature environments." (The photo above is from another contestant, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.)  

BRITISH SECURITY COUP: A team led by Nottingham Trent University researchers has received $4.4 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a new type of X-ray scanner for airport security, reports The Engineer, a UK-based publication. "Scattered X-ray signals will be used to identify the unique signatures or 'chemical fingerprint' of materials. The system will also use 3D imaging to map the position of objects within luggage. The technology has the potential to speed up security checks at airports. Current airport scanners provide an image of an object and give a broad material category, but can’t identify specific substances." 

HOVERBIKES AND NANODRONES, along with high-powered lasers, self sustaining combat outposts, and autonomous deep learning machines are envisioned in the Army's future toolbox, according to Military.com. Reporting from the Global Force Symposium & Exposition in Huntsville, Ala., the news site says the Army remains committed to early stage research despite budget cuts. "[T]he most common phrase heard at the show has been 'operational overmatch'." The hoverbike, AKA tactical reconnaissance vehicle, is seen as serving "a host of missions, including resupply, attack and personnel transport." The Army's Open Campus program, which invites small companies and researchers to utilize Army equipment and testing facilities, now has 150 signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with companies and researchers. The Army Research Laboratory's West Coast  campus opens in April at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies.

DENVER TO HOST 2017 SOLAR DECATHLON: The Department of Energy-sponsored event draws student teams from around the world who design, build, and operate energy-efficient, solar-powered houses. They compete for $2 million in prizes. See the announcement.


Thanks to Matt Hourihan, director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science, for the charts above and immediately below. 




BRAIN GAIN: "[T]he overrepresentation of immigrants in areas of exceptional contribution to American society has shifted . . . from cultural and artistic fields . . . to engineering, computing, and scientific professions since 1980," states a recently released National Academies report. "The robust representation of the first and second generations throughout the occupational spectrum implies that the U.S. workforce increasingly relies on immigrants and their children to staff higher-level jobs. This dependence on immigration is likely to grow as the baby boom cohorts complete their retirement over the next two decades." The panel found three areas of concern: "[T]the role of legal status in slowing or blocking the integration of not just the undocumented but also their U.S.-citizen children; racial patterns in immigrant integration and the resulting racial stratification in the U.S. population; and the low percentage of immigrants who naturalize, compared with other major immigrant-receiving countries."

$25,000 VIDEO PRIZE: The National Academy of Engineering has announced the 3rd annual Engineering for You Video Contest (E4U3). This year's topic is Mega Engineering - projects that "typically address important needs of large populations and/or societies, require teams working across countries and cultures on a solution, and involve at least three disciplines, including engineering." Examples are human travel to Mars; new large-scale energy sources like fusion; engineering better medicines and access to medical care; economically sweeping the oceans of plastic waste; creating remarkable tools of scientific discovery like the Large Hadron Collider; and building sustainable cities. NAE is looking for 1-2 minute videos that (i) introduce a particular mega-engineering project, (ii) highlight its importance/contribution to people and society, and (iii) suggest contributions to its development. The Grand Prize of $25,000 will go to the most inspiring video. Visit www.e4uvideocontest.org to learn more!


'ENGINEERING-ENHANCED' LIBERAL EDUCATION: ASEE, with financial support from the Teagle Foundation and expert guidance by leading education consultant Sheila Tobias, has launched a website highlighting case studies that examine the benefits of greater integration between the liberal arts and engineering. Find out more

The postmark deadline for paper ballots has been extended to March 31, 2016. Members are encouraged to vote electronically at http://www.asee.org/public
(Note: You must be logged in to vote electronically.)

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. Abstracts must be less than 1200 words.


Engineering & Engineering Technology Chairs Conclave

Join us at the ASEE Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA on June 26, 2016 for the inaugural Chairs Conclave, an exclusive forum for Engineering and Engineering Technology Chairs to exchange ideas, share experiences, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. This full day event, designed by Chairs, for Chairs, includes presentations on relevant topics including financial development and managing external connections, and facilitated opportunities for group discussion and brainstorming.  Register today – space is limited! Learn more and view the full agenda.

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.

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.