Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

September 25, 2015



John Boehner's announcement that he will step down as speaker and retire from the House at the end of October appears to have made it easier to keep the government open beyond Oct. 1, when the next fiscal year begins. CQ reports that the Ohioan told fellow Republicans a "clean" stopgap continuing resolution -- minus any provision to defund Planned Parenthood -- will be brought to the House floor next week. If it contained such a provision it would have been blocked in the Senate or vetoed by the president - resulting in a shutdown. Enough votes are expected from both parties to pass the 10-week funding measure, even if 50 or so rebellious conservatives oppose it.  Nonetheless, federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, have contingency plans ready.

SUCCESSION SCRAMBLE: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), above right, is seen as the favorite, but he'll need 218 votes - not a sure thing. His record suggests "even more of a centrist deal-making instinct than Mr. Boehner has," according to the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire

A MOVE TO RAISE THE CAPS: Spending limits imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act - blamed for curbs on research agencies - may be loosened soon. CQ reports that two senior Republicans, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, think there's a good chance Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will "discuss proposals to raise the discretionary spending caps."


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock; source: Infobrief, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF)

Click here for a larger, easy to read version. (Presentation Mode is at top right.)


MORE POWER PER CELL: As part of $102 million in recently announced solar R&D funding, the Department of Energy has $20 million for "30 to 35 projects that will advance the limits of photovoltaic cell and module performance." These include "small, single-year projects intended to demonstrate the potential for expanded work in a given area," and "traditional, multiyear research projects. All topics will ask applicants to demonstrate a convincing ability to improve the power conversion efficiency, fielded energy output, service lifetime, or manufacturability of commercial and emerging PV technologies." Learn more. The DOE's Building Technologies Office "is interested in the current state-of-the-art in sensor and control technologies, forthcoming research and development (R&D) advances that could reduce cost or improve performance, and the potential market implications of improved building energy management." See the RFI. Also, check out DOE's Quadrennial Technology Review.

NEON WARNING: The National Science Foundation's inspector general says the $433.8 million National Ecological Observatory Network  "is plagued with problems." NEON projects an $80 million cost overrun, but the IG doesn't know whether that's correct -- the figure has gone up several times. It's imperative that NSF "apply the same rigorous attention and scrutiny" to the money side of its big facilities as it does to research projects, the IG says. Yet members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee "appeared satisfied with efforts being made by officials to correct past mistakes and to rescope the project," reports the American Institute of Physics FYI newsletter.

FINAL PHASE OF HAZARDS PROJECT: NSF plans to make its last three awards in its $40 million Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program: a Network Coordination Office (NCO), Computational Modeling and Simulation Center (SimCenter), and Post-Disaster, Rapid Response Research (RAPID) Facility. Read the sternly worded solicitation.

'WAIT, WHAT?' That was the title of the DARPA (Defense Advance Research Projects Agency) Future Technology Forum held earlier this month in St. Louis - DoD's answer to TED talks. Check out a video playlist of most of the sessions.


A NEW APPROACH TO REGULATING RESEARCH: A National Academies panel finds that growing federal regulatory demands are "diminishing the effectiveness of the nation’s research investment by directing investigators’ time away from research and training toward overlapping and incongruent administrative matters that do not take into consideration the environment under which research is conducted at academic institutions today." The study, requested by Congress, proposes creation of a Research Policy Board, managed by the White House but funded by research institutions, "giving it a degree of independence not enjoyed by a government agency," Science's Jeff Mervis reports.

A DECADE OF GROWTH IN FOREIGN BORN ENGINEERS, SCIENTISTS: 5.2 million, or 18 percent, of  scientists and engineers living in the United States in 2013 were immigrants, up from 3.4 million (16 percent) in 2003,  according to an Infobrief by NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.


EDUCATION FRONTIERS LINE-UP: ASEE Board member Maura Borrego, of the University of Texas at Austin, and Society member Amy Javernick-Will, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, will be among speakers at the National Academy of Engineering's 2015 Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium next month in Irvine, Calif.


JOIN THE PROFILES SURVEY: The 2015 ASEE Survey of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges is now open.  We need your school to participate to create an accurate picture of engineering education in the U.S.  For providing data and paying a fee, your school’s data will be published online, you will receive a copy of our Profiles in Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges book, and you will have access to our data mining tool with seventeen years of engineering education data.  Your school may register at https://survey.asee.org/registration.  Questions? Contact Brian L. Yoder, Ph.D.  Director of Assessment, Evaluation, and Institutional Research, 202-331-3535, or b.yoder@asee.org

NOW AVAILABLE: Help inspire the next generation of innovators with the all-new 6th edition of ASEE's prize-winning magazine for middle and high school students: eGFI (Engineering, Go For It). Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, eGFI aims to get teens fired up about learning - and doing - 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.