Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

                                 November 10, 2018



"With many moderate Republicans losing in the House and several moderate Democrats losing in the Senate, finding areas of common ground may be even more difficult in the next Congress as the House and Senate set up dueling agendas in the months ahead," Lewis-Burke Associates says in a post-election assessment. After Democrats won a majority of House seats, Nancy Pelosi insisted she had sufficient support to fend off a challenge to her return as speaker. But a "growing minority" in her party wants new leadership, the L.A. Times reports. While the GOP strengthened its hold on the Senate, Leader Mitch McConnell still lacks a filibuster-proof majority to pass legislation without Democratic votes. Topics in which both parties have an interest include infrastructure, new energy projects, cybersecurity, and "threats posed by international competitors," such as China, Lewis-Burke says. A big test of whether bipartisanship is possible will be whether the two parties agree to skirt sequestration and reach another two-year budget deal.  

A SEARCH FOR NEW CHAMPIONS: Several strong backers of scientific research in the Republican-led House won't be around in the 116th Congress, according to Lewis-Burke. They include Reps. John Culberson (R-Tex.), who chaired the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee; House Science Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.); Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.). Another supporter, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), appears to have lost narrowly, but his race is headed to an automatic recount. Read L-B's analysis.. Science reports that the defeat of, among others, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R–FL), casts doubt on the future of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, of which Curbelo was co-leader.

WINNING LINE-UP: Among the Democratic House victors Tuesday were four engineers, from left: Chrissy Houlahan, 50, of Pennsylvania; Elaine Luria, 43, of Virginia; Sean Casten, 46, of Illinois; and Joe Cunningham, 36, of South Carolina. Science magazine provided their backgrounds back in October. 

CLIMATE CHANGE: A post-election headline in Wired: "The House Science Committee May Soon Become... Pro-Science." The article quotes current ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) as stating that, if elected chair, she wants the panel to be “a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policymaking.” That includes “seeking to understand what climate science is telling us, and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it.”  Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), a physicist, tells Wired: “Hopefully we will no longer see the science committee used as a messaging tool for the fossil fuel industry." At least 11 candidates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering or medicine won election to the House, Nature reports.

BIPARTISAN OASES: Appropriations committees in recent years have more often than not been able to avoid the Capitol's rancor and gridlock--in part because budget deals loosened the purse strings. Whether bipartisan sharing of federal largesse continues in the 116th Congress will depend heavily on incoming House Chair Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Senate Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) "Lowey has earned praise from both parties for her ability to form coalitions to pass spending bills," CQ reports. Shelby, CQ says, "hopes to . . . build on the bipartisanship fostered with ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont." 


DACA KEPT ALIVE -- FOR NOW: The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in California, has blocked the Trump administration from immediately terminating the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows some 700,000 immigrants brought here illegally as children to stay in this country. Before the ruling, the Justice Department  asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. While the high court has not responded to that request, "virtually all legal observers anticipate that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the program's fate," NPR reports. The president, meanwhile, signed a proclamation restricting the ability of migrants to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

ICYMI: The Department of Labor (DOL) hosted a webinar for institutions interested in learning more about apprenticeships and higher education--in particular, four-year institutions of higher education. The webinar highlighted an apprenticeship system being facilitated by the University of Georgia system. Apprenticeships and workforce development initiatives have been a priority for the current administration. Engineering and engineering technology are areas DOL has expressed interest in supporting. See the slides from the webinar.

NSF TO SEEK LGBT DATA: The National Science Foundation "plans to test the feasibility of adding questions about sexual orientation and gender identity" in its Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), Science Careers reports. The questionnaire, which Ph.D. candidates are often asked to fill out upon completing their dissertations, "has served as an annual census of U.S. doctoral degree-grantees since 1957 and provides useful demographic information." The earliest that LGBT questions would be added is 2021. NSF’s move was catalyzed "by a letter arguing that comprehensive, nationwide data on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) scientists and engineers are needed because the group experiences disadvantages and disparities that are akin to other underrepresented groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities and women."

STUDENT AND FACULTY RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES: Applications are due January 10, 2019 for both Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) and the Visiting Faculty Program (VFP) sponsored by the Department of Energy. SULI students perform research at one of 17 DOE labs under the guidance of laboratory staff scientists or engineers. In VFP, university or college faculty members "collaborate with DOE laboratory research staff on a project of mutual interest."  

NEW SOFTWARE FOR THE GRID: That's the intended outcome of the Grid Optimization (GO) Competition sponsored by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), ASME's Capitol Update reports. A series of challenges seeks management solutions that will increase the resiliency and optimization of the electric grid. The first challenge is currently open. "To move to the next round, applicants must solve a security-constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF) problem. Algorithms will be tested on complex, realistic power system models, with applicants scored on how well their algorithms perform relative to one another." Learn more.


Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Role of Formal Education in Work Experience Programs (May 2018)


WORK, LEARN, LIFT:  "A quick scan of university programs in the U.S. would likely find that most universities offer some level of work-and-learn experiences to students as part of, or as a supplement to, their engineering education. If work-and-learn models are indeed already reasonably prevalent in engineering education, then why do industry leaders and students alike report concern over recent engineering graduates' lack of preparedness for the workplace?" A report by Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT), a Manufacturing USA institute, aims "to support universities' work in better preparing engineering students for the workplace." Read the report.


WORLDWIDE DEFENSE INDUSTRY INTERACTIONS: A recurring theme of a National Academies workshop was that "the number and sophistication of interactions between different international partners is increasing dramatically." Whereas in the past, these involved a few large organizations, universities, and companies, "today partnerships occur all over the world among actors of all sizes." The workshop addressed changes in global materials R&D over time and across the world; manufacturing capabilities today in the United States and in other countries; the role of materials in global and U.S. product competitiveness; and the role of sustainable manufacturing, including materials recycling and recovery, in foreign countries. Read the report.


BEYOND THE NUMBERS: "Diversity is counting heads. Inclusion is making heads count," ASEE President Stephanie Farrell says in this podcast of her keynote at September's European Society for Engineering Education annual conference in Copenhagen. She describes the implementation of a National Science Foundation Revolution in Engineering Departments (RED) grant by Rowan University's Civil and Environmental Engineering department. It's a work in progress, she notes: "The revolution has just begun."


Check out 97 listings geared to engineering educators on ASEE’s Classifieds Website.

ASEE AT 125 VIDEO CONTEST: One of the activities planned to mark ASEE‘s 125th anniversary is EEin25, the first-ever ASEE video contest. Undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students may submit a 90-second video on where engineering education will be in 25 years at ASEE‘s 150th Anniversary in 2043. Click here to find out more. Click here to learn about other activities commemorating 125 Years at the Heart of Engineering Education.

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!

Order Your Copies