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October 22, 2016



The Obama administration plans to support a number of private-sector small-satellite initiatives, according to a White House blog: "NASA will purchase up to $30 million of Earth observation data obtained commercially from small satellites, and will create a new Small Spacecraft Virtual Institute based out of the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley one-stop shop” for best practices, lessons learned, and standards for all phases of smallsat development."  The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency "awarded a $20 million contract to startup Planet to purchasing large quantities of imagery Planet collects from its network of 'Dove' smallsats." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration "has awarded contracts to GeoOptics, Inc., and Spire Global, Inc., two startups using smallsat constellations to collect radio-occultation data from global positioning system satellites." The administration plans "an efficient, single point of access for Federal agencies to purchase commercially-provided imagery data and associated analytical capabilities." 

WHAT TRAINING TO GIVE GRAD STUDENTS in advanced manufacturing is the question behind a Department of Energy Request for Information. DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office seeks "feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to future EERE-funded and (Advanced Manufacturing Office)-funded graduate-level traineeships. EERE is specifically interested in information on potential technical focus areas for traineeships (e.g. similar to the previously funded focus area of Power Electronics Engineering) where there are identified needs and/or gaps in the expected knowledge workforce."

POSTDOC REBOUND: In 2015, total of 2,696 postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) worked at federally funded research and development centers, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics at the National Science Foundation. "Although this number is lower than the peak of 3,011 reported in 2010, it shows a rebound after two consecutive survey years of decline," says an Infobrief.  

GRANTS FOR ENGAGING UNDERGRADS: Researchers with active NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) awards may submit requests for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supplemental funding. "Priority will be given to requests submitted before March 30, 2017." Learn more.

LESS PAPERWORK: A research opportunity offered by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation and CISE will allow U.S. and Israeli researchers "to submit a single collaborative proposal that will undergo a single review process."

EAGER FOR COLLABORATION: NSF is encouraging EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals "that foster novel interdisciplinary research carried out in new collaborations between one or more Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) researchers and one or more Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) researchers. Learn more.


The graphic above illustrates the Obama administration's intent to fulfill its commitment to the Paris climate accord and double clean energy R&D by 2021. If House GOP appropriators get their way, the proposed fiscal 2017 increases will be scaled back in a post-election minibus or omnibus spending bill. 


HOUSE SPEAKER TO SEEK MORE FOR THE PENTAGON: Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) says the fiscal 2018 budget will be the “first thing out of the gate” when the next Congress take office, CQ reports. It will "“free up fiscal space for the military," he says. His language hints at cuts in domestic discretionary spending if the Budget Control Act is to continue in force. He also suggests the budget will "include reconciliation instructions for a tax overhaul," which means the tax changes could be approved by a simple majority in the Senate and House.

LESS OF A CURE: House Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is preparing a new version of the 21st Century Cures Act, a biomedical innovation package that up until now has had bipartisan support. CQ reports that the new bill would retain mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health, but with a lower amount than the $8.75 billion in the existing bill. Still, "any mandatory funding is likely to continue to prevent some Republicans from supporting the underlying legislation." Ryan, who has supported the bill, "risks further angering a faction of Republicans, like the Freedom Caucus, whose support may be necessary in the upcoming House leadership elections." 

THE STATE OF AERONAUTICS RESEARCH: Congress isn't in session, but the Science, Space, and Technology Committee plans a forum on October 27 at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Flight experimentation leaders "will discuss the state of American aeronautics research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) programs."


DIED: William G. Bowen, president of Princeton from 1972 to 1988 and an influential figure in higher education, was 83. Inside Higher Ed reports: "His 2000 book The Shape of the River, co-written with Derek S. Bok, the former president of Harvard University, helped make an empirical case for the importance of affirmative action in college admissions. . . . Crossing the Finish Line, in 2009, provided evidence that major public universities were not fulfilling their historical mission of being engines of opportunity for disadvantaged Americans. . . . This year brought the release of Lesson Plan, co-written with Michael S. McPherson, which explored some of the real (and imagined) problems in higher education today." (Portrait by Everett Raymond Kinstler)


NO 'SILVER BULLETS': High-speed Maneuvering Weapons (HSMWs), currently being flight-tested by Russia and China, "may endanger both forward-deployed U.S. forces and even the continental United States itself. These weapons appear to operate in regimes of speed, altitude, (and) with maneuverability that could frustrate existing missile defense constructs and weapon capabilities," according to a National Academies report. The committee that prepared the report "hoped to identify a class of technology, or suite of technologies" to counter the threat. It "saw many concepts and heard about many different possible approaches, but in the end it concluded that there are no 'silver bullets.'"  

COMPUTING AND ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING: A National Academies workshop examined "predictive theoretical and computational approaches for various AM technologies. While experimental workshops in AM have been held in the past, this workshop uniquely focused on theoretical and computational approaches and involved areas such as simulation-based engineering and science, integrated computational materials engineering, mechanics, materials science, manufacturing processes, and other specialized areas." 


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 two one-hour “deep dives” on supporting transgender students and colleagues (October 27) and 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. 

NORTHEAST ENGINEERING GRADUATE STUDENT RECRUITING Mini-Symposium, hosted by Tufts University, October 28, 2016, noon-5 p.m. Searching for the right engineering graduate program? Looking to recruit high-quality graduate students? Register here.

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.