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                             December 23, 2017 

                    Note to readers: Capitol Shorts will not be published next week. Happy Holidays from ASEE



Several provisions in the tax overhaul that President Trump signed Friday could have a negative impact on colleges: For one, the law introduces a 1.4 percent excise tax on the endowments of certain private colleges and universities. Less harsh than earlier versions, the final measure would only hit the wealthiest colleges, those with endowments valued at least $500,000 per full‐time student, according to Lewis-Burke Associates. Still, elite schools tap their endowments to defray tuition for needy students and to support research. 

Second, the final bill could shrink financial gifts to colleges. It expands the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and to $24,000 for joint filers, Lewis-Burke reports. "It also expands the charitable contribution limit to 60 percent of adjusted gross income for cash and capital gain property contributions to public charities and certain private foundations. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), has estimated that as a result of these changes, the number of filers claiming the charitable deduction will drop from roughly 40 million to 9 million. This will lead to an estimated $100 billion less in charitable giving over the next decade." The American Council on Education says the reduced charitable deductions "could easily undermine all nonprofit institutions, including colleges and universities." The group says changes to the state and local tax deduction, "despite some modest improvements made in conference, will harm state budgets, with resulting serious implications for state investment in public higher education." 

The American Institute of Physics' FYI newsletter adds: "The legislation keeps the private industry R&D tax credit intact but will now require businesses to capitalize and amortize domestic R&D expenditures over a five-year period instead of in a single year." 

KICKING THE CAN: Congress extended stopgap funding until January 19, again postponing a reckoning over appropriations for the full year. The continuing resolution signed by the president Friday provides $4.7 billion more for defense, including ship repair and missile defense, according to the House Appropriations Committee. Besides avoiding a government shutdown, the measure delays automatic sequestration budget cuts. Next up: attempts to reach a bipartisan budget deal. CQ reports that "Congress is almost certain to have to pass another temporary spending bill to give appropriators time to write an omnibus appropriations measure that funds the government through Sept. 30."

'DREAM' DEFERRED: Unwilling to risk a government shutdown, Democrats allowed the four-week stopgap spending bill to pass without a provision to protect immigrants brought to this country illegally as children. President Trump has given Congress until March 5 to restore the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before it is canceled, the New Yorker reports. Democratic leaders, who had pledged to fix DACA before Congress's Christmas break, face an immigrant backlash and intensified pressure to find a solution in the coming weeks, according to the Washington Post

REPORT DEMANDED ON STEM DIVERSITY: With bipartisan support, the House quickly passed the STEM Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act (H.R. 4375), which originated in the House Science Committee. The bill, which has gone to the Senate, would require the National Science Foundation to submit a report to Congress on the "effectiveness of all National Science Foundation research and education programs for broadening the participation of women and other historically underrepresented individuals in STEM studies and careers." It should include performance metrics; information on student outcomes, including dropout rates, enrollment in graduate programs, internships or apprenticeships, and employment; identification of any data gaps for evaluating the effectiveness and outcomes of NSF programs to broaden participation; and recommendations for maintaining, translating, and disseminating outcomes data for STEM programs funded by the NSF.

VETERANS IN STEM, WOMEN IN AEROSPACE: Two other STEM-related bills passed December 18 during what the House dubbed Science Day. Summarized by Lewis-Burke Associates, they were the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (H.R. 4323), which would "establish a committee within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) aimed at increasing the number of veterans in STEM careers and would require NSF to establish a veteran outreach plan"; and the Women in Aerospace Education Act (H.R. 4254), which "would direct the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and NSF to prioritize the placement of women and other historically underrepresented groups in fellowships and research opportunities at national laboratories and NASA centers."


ALIVE AND KICKING: Kept going by Congress against the wishes of the White House, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) continues to enlist academic researchers and companies in high-risk efforts to overcome energy barriers. Funding goes to universities (43 percent); small business (31 percent); large business (14 percent); federally funded R&D centers (8 percent); and nonprofits (4 percent). The agency recently issued a broad funding announcement to "support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications." Concept papers are due by February 12. Learn more. New programs are Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration (MEITNER), which seeks early-stage technologies for next-generation nuclear power plants; and Innovative Natural-gas Technologies for Efficiency Gain in Reliable and Affordable Thermochemical Electricity-generation (INTEGRATE).  

RETHINKING AIR FORCE RESEARCH: Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will keynote the Air Force S&T Engagement Summit on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. She will talk about the "need to rethink how the Air Force manages path-breaking research." The event will be put on by the Air Force Studies Board of the National Academies and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory. It's intended to provide "an overview of the goals for a year-long strategic review and share details on numerous outreach activities that will provide an opportunity for you to share your ideas for the future of the Air Force research agenda." Register to attend in person or online here.


Engineering Education Summit at NIWeek 2018

Join fellow leaders in education, industry, and research to discuss impactful trends and best practices that are affecting how students learn and how we can best prepare them to tackle the engineering challenges of tomorrow.  The Engineering Education Summit at NIWeek 2018 in Austin, Texas is a unique event that brings together a global audience of educators and researchers, alongside engineers from leading companies. Interactive panels and sessions ensure that you can learn how new teaching methodologies are enabling the hands-on, active learning in areas such as wireless communications, IoT and mechatronics. Learn more about this event and see highlights from 2017.

GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD NOMINATIONS: "The Golden Goose Award honors federally funded research that may be odd, obscure or serendipitous but ends up having a major impact on society." You can nominate "colleagues, collaborators and role models" by following this link.  


The first-of-its-kind GEM-ASEE Doctoral Engineering Research Showcase, sponsored by The National GEM Consortium (GEM) and ASEE, will be held January 22-23, 2018, at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC.  Doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and new faculty will display their leading-edge technical research and connect with potential agency sponsors and academic employers. Find out more. Watch a video.

GOFLY COMPETITION: In partnership with Boeing, ASEE is calling on the world’s greatest thinkers, designers, engineers, and builders to challenge themselves and change the future. Registration for the competition is now open and all details are available here

ASEE IS CO-HOSTING the First Annual CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity - pronounced “connected”) Conference next April 29 to May 1. It will be a forum on enhancing diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups in engineering and computing. CoNECD will encompass many diverse groups, including those based on gender (including gender identity and gender expression), race and ethnicity, disability, veterans, LGBTQ+, 1st generation and socio-economic status. It's a collaboration of ASEE's Minorities in Engineering and Women in Engineering divisions and several outside groups. ASEE members can submit an abstract here (login required.) 

ASEE Board Reorganization - Feedback Needed

ASEE ED Norman Fortenberry presents the rationale for a proposed reorganization of the ASEE Board of Directors. Watch a video and  leave your feedback (ASEE member login required; Firefox works best.).

THE ACCELERATOR RETURNS: ASEE's free monthly newsletter for undergraduate and graduate students has resumed publication with 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. Click here to advertise. Send content to Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org.


ASEE is offering two two-week courses in the spring of 2018 for researchers and innovators who want to take their STEM education vision to the next level. The application period is now open.  For more information click here.

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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