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November 4, 2016



RealClearPolitics predicts the GOP and Democrats can each count on 46 seats. In one of the closest Senate contests, the polling aggregator now lists Illinois, where incumbent Republican Mark Kirk is outspent by Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, left, as "likely Democratic." In the House, Republicans are reported likely to keep 224 seats - six more than needed to retain control of the chamber - and Democrats 190, with 21 contests considered tossups.

FIRST A SUPPLEMENTAL, THEN AN OMNIBUS: A panel of budget experts meeting at the conservative Heritage Foundation expects the lame-duck Congress to take up a supplemental spending bill to pay for the war against the Islamic State, among other things, followed by a catch-all omnibus appropriations measure, CQ reports. Although both House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would prefer a series of "minibus" appropriations bills, the short session probably won't allow for that. 


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock; Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF). Click here for a larger version. 


NIH TO RESEARCHERS - SHARE DATA OR ELSE: National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins tells CQ Roll Call: “We are going to expect that applicants who are generating data sets to produce a data-sharing plan or we are not going to fund them. And for applicants who basically have failed to live up to their responsibilities for data sharing, that will hurt them in their next opportunity to get funds from NIH." The publication reports that the move "is part of a larger push from President Barack Obama’s administration to make information gathered from government-backed studies more public."

NANO STRATEGY UPDATE: The new White House document says "there are still challenges associated with designing and fabricating integrated nanosystems" that call for " high-impact research investments." It also calls for "substantial investments, strengthened by interagency cooperation and collaboration . . . to develop the talent and facilities necessary" for world-class R&D and tech transfer. Among a number of educational objectives, the plan urges "education about the areas of convergence between nanotechnology and other related scientific disciplines, such as biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science." This year, it notes, "college students across the country established a network aimed at raising awareness of cutting-edge research." The National Network for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) "will facilitate the expansion of this student-led network and to promote opportunities for student research and internships." 

ONE MOORE TIME: The White House has revived a warning that the semiconductor industry "may soon be unable to continue the pace of advance described by 'Moore’s Law'—doubling the processing power of chips every 18–24 months." A blog post says "the exponentially growing cost of designing and fabricating higher-performance chips in the conventional mold is already stifling innovation, making it more difficult for startups and new ideas from university research to create new markets." So John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and former Intel CEO Paul Otellini, will co-chair a working group to "identify the core challenges facing the semiconductor industry at home and abroad and identify major opportunities for sustaining U.S. leadership. Based on its findings, the working group will deliver a set of recommendations on initial actions the Federal government, industry, and academia could pursue to maintain U.S. leadership."  

HBCU RESEARCHERS ENCOURAGED: The National Science Foundation is soliciting research proposals for over 300 programs from principal investigators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. A Dear Colleague letter gives a list of contacts. The letter cites a report to Congress recommending "a focus on improving research capacity at HBCUs so that individual investigators would be more successful in receiving funding from NSF’s Research and Related Activities (R&RA) directorates."

FOR ENGINEERS ONLY: NSF's Research Initiation in Engineering Formation program intends to prepare engineering faculty "to take a stronger leadership role in research on the professional formation of engineers, thus expanding the community of researchers." It "is not intended to create an additional funding channel for researchers with expertise in social science research; such researchers should apply to the Research in the Formation of Engineers program."

NEW SCIENCE BOARD APPOINTEES: President Obama intends to appoint W. Kent Fuchs, University of Florida president and former engineering dean and provost at Cornell; Victor R. McCrary, vice president for research and economic development at Morgan State University; Emilio F. Moran, professor at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at Michigan State University; and Julia M. Phillips, director emerita at Sandia National Laboratories, to the National Science Board. They presumably could be confirmed by the Senate during the upcoming lame-duck session. Then again . . . .


'EARLY APPOINTMENT' OF A SCIENCE ADVISER: In a recent report, the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University urges whoever is elected president on Tuesday to tap a notable scientist or engineer as science adviser and assistant to the president for science and technology. That person should then be nominated as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a post requiring Senate confirmation. The report says: "The next administration will need to address a number of public policy challenges necessitating immediate S&T expertise."

'EYE-CATCHING': That's how Science's Jeff Mervis describes results from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science that "seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom that hands-on learning is the best way to teach science." He reports: "U.S. high school students who regularly handle rocks or minerals in science class did much worse on a recent national science test than those who never engage in such hands-on activities. Students who never mixed chemicals or peered through microscopes in their classrooms did just as well on the test as those who often participated in those activities."

R&D 100 AWARDS: "The 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year" have been recognized by R&D magazine. 


DIVERSITY AWARD FINALISTS: Yacob Astatke, interim associate dean of engineering for undergraduate studies at Morgan State University, is one of three finalists for the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Airbus Diversity award, which "recognises people who have created successful grass-roots initiatives encouraging students of all profiles and backgrounds to study and to succeed in engineering." Astatke was ASEE's Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2013. The other finalists are Dawn Bonfield, former chief executive of the UK’s Women’s Engineering Society, and Mary Wells, chair of the Ontario Network for Women in Engineering (ONWiE) and associate dean for engineering outreach at the University of Waterloo.  An award ceremony will be held at the upcoming World Education Engineering Forum (WEEF) and GEDC meeting in Seoul, South Korea. Find out more.

NEW EDITOR SOUGHT: The European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) is looking for a new editor-in-chief for the  European Journal of Engineering Education (EJEE). "Among the responsibilities of the EiC is maintaining high editorial standards for EJEE, managing the review and publication of papers, and working in close collaboration with the team of Associate Editors, the publisher (Taylor & Francis) and the international Editorial Board." Learn more here

SAFE ZONE ALLY TRAINING WEBINAR SERIES – Level 2: Take part in creating a positive and inclusive environment for LGBTQ individuals in STEM by joining ASEE for three free Level 2 Safe Zone Ally Training webinars. Building upon the Level 1 webinars presented in Spring 2016, ASEE is offering a  one-hour “deep dive” on LGBTQ and engineering culture December 6. Register today. Missed Level 1? View the slides and recording-on-demand here.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: The 2017 ASEE Annual Conference will include a cross-divisional session entitled, "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Role of Engineering Education towards Attaining UN Sustainable Development Goals." The full Call for Papers can be found on the Conference website. 

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: WORKSHOP ON BUILDING RESEARCH CAPACITY FOR STEM FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: Building Research Capacity for STEM Faculty Development is an NSF-sponsored working conference that brings together experts from around the country to develop a national research agenda focused on faculty development in the STEM disciplines. February 16-18, 2017 at Clemson University. Apply here

Prize-winning eGFI:  Get teens fired up about engineering with eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's magazine for middle and high school students. Winner of the APEX Grand Award for Publication Excellence, eGFI combines engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers. Click here to purchase copies, For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.