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                                 January 12, 2018



Now officially the longest on record, the partial U.S. government shutdown has closed parks and museums, cut off sources of income for government contractors, "delayed payments of housing subsidies, and slowed or stopped routine public-health inspections of food and environmental hazards," the Atlantic reports. If it continues for weeks or months, "those effects would cascade, and the outcomes would be bleak." They include deeper poverty, loss of homes for those on housing assistance, unfunded federal courts, delays in processing home and farm loans, and a possible exodus of civil servants to paying jobs in the private sector. The standoff between President Trump and congressional Democrats over $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall heads into its fourth week. Members of the House and the Senate both went home to their districts on Friday and won’t return until Monday, (Photo: barrier featured in a tweet by President Trump)

CHAOS FOR UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS: So reports Science magazine, which cites "lasting damage to some research projects," and threatened livelihoods. "In a moment’s notice, I went from believing I had secure income to not knowing when I would be paid,” says Marshall McMunn, an ecologist at the University of California (UC), Davis, on a (National Science Foundation) postdoctoral fellowship. He can’t even find out whether it’s OK to take a part-time job to help pay his bills." The American Institute of Physics' FYI bulletin says the shutdown "has already significantly affected science, furloughing most agency-based researchers, halting grant reviews, and preventing the distribution of grant or contract funds. While research projects and facilities managed by non-federal personnel are allowed to operate with funds they have already received, they will eventually be disrupted." Scientific society meetings have been scrambled, with federal registrants dropping out. The Department of Energy, although it is still open, cancelled a science town hall. The National Institutes of Health, DOE, and Pentagon research agencies continue to offer research opportunities. See examples below.


FIGHTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND GUN VIOLENCE: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) has signaled her priorities as chair of the House Science Committee with two pieces of legislation. One calls for "research  to  better  understand  the  causes  and  consequences of  sexual  harassment  affecting  individuals  in  the  scientific,  technical, engineering,  and  mathematics  workforce  and  to  examine  policies  to  reduce  the  prevalence  and  negative  impact  of  such  harassmen." The second would authorize​ "a coordinated  national  research  program  to examine  the  nature,  causes,  consequences,  and  prevention of  violence  and  unintended  injury  and  death  relating to  gun  ownership,  use,  and  trafficking."

BUILDING THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT: A number of bills introduced late in the last session are likely to be reintroduced in the 116th Congress "and may be worked into a bipartisan Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization effort," Lewis-Burke Associates reports. These include the 21st Century American Service Act, which would "establish 250,000 tax-exempt educational awards at double the current award amount for national service volunteers, and . . . allow these educational awards to be used for public higher education." Another would "prevent institutions of higher education and other post-secondary educational institutions from using federal educational assistance funding for marketing or recruitment purposes." A third would "provide up to 30 scholarships of up to $50,000 per year, internships, and mentorship to students with high potential in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) fields (with) at least 50 percent of the fellowships to be awarded to students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and to provide additional consideration of the lack of women and minority students in STEAM fields when awarding scholarships."

See Lewis-Burke Associates' January newsletter on higher education policy.


GRADUATE STUDY OVERSEAS: “There’s not a lot of research on the topic,” says Brian Mitchell, interim associate dean for graduate studies at Tulane University. “As with graduate education as a whole, we believe that it works. But we don’t really know how or why."Science reports.that Mitchell conducted a National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop "to develop a research agenda that could help the agency better understand and improve international work experiences. . . . 'For a lot of advisers,' says Mitchell, a chemical engineer, 'their attitude is, "I’m OK with it as long as it doesn’t slow you down [from finishing your degree]." So the duration and timing of the research experience is an important factor.'"

EARLY CAREER RESEARCH: The Department of Energy "supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science. Opportunities exist in . . . Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR); Biological and Environmental Research (BER); Basic Energy Sciences (BES), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES); High Energy Physics (HEP), and Nuclear Physics (NP)." Learn more.

UNDERGRADUATE DEBUT CHALLENGE: The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell support the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge, which offers prizes of up to $20,000 and a new $15,000 prize for projects that develop technology for HIV/AIDS prevention and/or care. Learn more here and here

IMMUNITY CHIPS: The National Institutes of Health seeks "to promote the development of in vitro platforms that recapitulate components of the human immune system. Applications that qualify for this funding will focus on engineering 3-D in vitro microphysiological immune system tissues, adding immune system responsiveness to existing in vitro platforms, and/or in vitro modeling of autoimmune diseases and inflammation." Find out more.

UPCOMING IARPA OPPORTUNITIES: The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) released a draft broad agency announcement (BAA) for the Secure, Assured, Intelligent Learning Systems (SAILS) program, Lewis-Burke Associates reports. The SAILS program seeks to explore and develop artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) models that are resilient to attacks against training data.  IARPA seeks interested parties to review this draft BAA and provide feedback through questions, comments, and proposed changes. IARPA also released a draft broad agency announcement (BAA) for the TrojAI program. TrojAI is an anticipated two-year program to combat attacks by inspecting artificial intelligence (AI) for trojans to ensure the “security of the entire data and training pipeline.”  IARPA seeks interested parties to review the draft BAA and provide feedback through questions, comments, and proposed changes.

UNIVERSITIES BACK NIST ON 'RETURN ON INVESTMENT': Responding to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Return on Investment Initiative Green Paper, university associations express "strong support for the Green Paper’s overarching aims and for many of the paper’s recommendations." They "will continue to work with NIST towards achieving the administration’s goal of improving technology transfer between our member institutions and the private sector." Learn more.

REDUCED OVERSIGHT: A set of draft Department of Education proposals aimed at encouraging innovation in higher education . . . "would largely reduce federal oversight for accrediting bodies, giving those agencies more flexibility in approving colleges and programs for receiving federal financial aid," the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The department "has begun a broad regulatory overhaul to reshape core issues under the . . . Higher Education Act." The Lewis-Burke newsletter has more.


Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle List, November 18, 2018  (subscription required)

Source: National Academies Press, Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers


THE NEXT-WAVE DIGITAL ERA: A system of pervasive connectivity, combined with machine-driven automation and intelligence, "will signal a new era for the economy," writes Robert D. Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in a policy brief. Many more things and types of things will be networked, automated, and smarter, including in advanced wireless, satellite, and wireline networks. Nations that lead in adoption of these technologies "will experience greater increases in living standards and quality of life. But success in both development and adoption of these new digital technologies is not assured; in fact, many forces today work against it."

NEW STUDIES SHOW FASTER OCEAN WARMING: Research published in Science finds that "the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years," the New York Times reports. The finding holds "dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters."


THE ONUS IS ON INSTITUTIONS: A National Academies study on removing barriers to women in science, engineering, and medicine "will not put the onus on women, but instead will focus on helping institutions understand how to remove the barriers that exist because of outmoded institutional structures. The study will also place a strong emphasis on the intersection of race and gender by considering the accumulated research on specific barriers faced by women of color in STEM in addition to the research on policies and practices that have had an impact on their representation." Chaired by physician Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to go into space. the study includes engineering educators (left to right) Cristina Amon, dean of applied science and engineering at the University of Toronto; Paula Hammond, chemical engineering department head at MIT; Ed Lazowska, Gates Chair in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington; Valerie Taylor, senior associate dean of academic affairs at Texas A&M's College of Engineering; and Sheldon Weinbaum, distinguished professor emeritus at the City College of New York. The panel will hold a symposium on March 11.



The 2019 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be held April 14–17, 2019, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Crystal City, Va. (future site of Amazon’s HQ2). ASEE members qualify for a discount.
Click here to register

Two-Part Webinar on Teaching Metacognition — February 2019
How do you teach metacognition to help improve student learning? Join us for a two-part webinar event. Patrick Cunningham (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Holly Matusovich (Virginia Tech) offer insights and actionable strategies for talking to and teaching students about metacognitive development. Registration is free for ASEE members! Learn more and register


Check out scores of listings geared to engineering educators on ASEE’s Classifieds Website.

THE ASEE Zone 1 Conference will convene April 11-13, 2019 at the Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls, NY. The conference will be held in partnership with the New York Cyber Security and Engineering Technology Association, and organized by The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Co-hosts include the St. Lawrence Section, Middle Atlantic Section, and Northeast Section of the ASEE. The conference will feature current and future trends in engineering and engineering technology education, with topics including, but not limited to, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, and the internet of things.The deadline for all paper or presentation abstracts, workshop proposals, or abstracts for student posters or lightning talks has been extended to January 15, 2019. Register here.  

NOMINATE A COLLEAGUE: The ASEE awards are the Society’s way to publicly recognize excellent work in our field of engineering and engineering technology education, research and practice. ASEE is now accepting nominations for 2019 ASEE Awards. The award winners will be recognized at the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Expo in Tampa, Florida in June. Nominators must be ASEE members though membership is not required to be nominated for an award. To submit a nomination, log-in at www.asee.org and click on “Award Nominations.” The deadline to submit all nomination materials is January 15, 2019.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE ACCELERATOR: ASEE's free monthly newsletter for undergraduate and graduate students has 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. Send content to Jennifer Pocock at j.pocock@asee.org.

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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