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September 4, 2015



"It's not a stretch," CQ says, for an impasse resulting in a shutdown to occur before Congress completes its session in December. The first fiscal hurdle will be a stopgap measure to fund the government into the next fiscal year. Then Congress will need to enact longer-term appropriations. For the GOP, the alternative would be living with what Congress decided when Democrats controlled the Senate. "Add in the need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by early December." No budget deal is likely to emerge until late in the fall, according to CQ.

HOUSE EDUCATION CHAIR TO RETIRE: Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) was due to give up chairmanship of the Education and Workforce Committee under the GOP's self-imposed term limits. But his announcement that he won't seek reelection means he'll be under less political pressure as he works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both chambers are currently holding hearings on HEA. Each has passed its own version of ESEA, but the bills face a drawn-out conference. CQ quotes Kline as saying "much more work lies ahead in the next 16 months." His successor? Quite possibly Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina conservative.



The graphic below shows the top 7 fields for engineering graduate students from 1975 to 2013. Electrical engineering ranked highest throughout the period. Other disciplines fluctuated in rank. Note: nec stands for "not elsewhere classified."

Graphic by Jennifer Pocock

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF-NIH Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.
Data from survey cycle Fall 2013, as of 8 August 2014.


PRIZE FOR HYDROGEN SYSTEMS: Last October, the Department of Energy launched the $1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize to challenge America's engineers and entrepreneurs to develop systems for small-scale hydrogen fueling -- for use in homes or multi-user sites to supplement hydrogen fueling stations. See the latest update.

TIGHTER MANUFACTURING: Process Intensification, when successfully introduced in chemical, thermal, or other manufacturing processes -- and in a controlled environment -- "results in better products, and sustainable processes which are safer, cleaner, smaller, cheaper, and more energy efficient than current processes and equipment." So says DOE, which plans a two-day workshop on the topic. 

SHARING $10 MILLION: The University of Texas-Austin, Vanderbilt, SUNY Stony Brook, and the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities are among eight DOE awardees developing "innovative solutions for efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies that will help reduce petroleum use." See the projects.

HELP FOR NEW FACULTY: The National Science Foundation's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) will award grants to encourage research independence among new Ph.D.s in their first academic posts. Learn more.

WHAT PROMOTES - OR HINDERS - WOMEN OF COLOR? A Cambridge, Mass.-based nonprofit called TERC Inc. (for Technical Education Research Centers) has a $451,000 grant from NSF's Engineering Education and Centers division to find out. Among its means will be 75 life stories "by or about women of color in engineering education and early careers; and . . .  an interview study of 24 women of color undergraduates and early professionals in subfields in which they are most underrepresented: aerospace, civil, and mechanical engineering.


DIVERSITY IN MATERIALS SCIENCE: With NSF support, six minority-serving colleges have again teamed up with major research institutions to involve minority students in materials research. Since it began in 2004, the Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) claims to have helped with retention and in steering students toward advanced degrees in the field.

HOLDREN OF THE NORTH: The White House science adviser spent the weekend before President Obama's Alaska trip touring the state, which he says "represents the frontlines of our fight against climate change." The visit "has powerfully augmented our understanding of the range of dramatic impacts that climate change is having" up there. Read his blog.


GRAND TOTAL: Michigan State's College of Engineering starts the school year with more than 1000 female students for the first time. Incoming chemical engineering major Abby Nowak, right, was drawn in part by a 96 percent job-placement rate. Dean Leo Kempel's goal is to have women represent 25 percent of the incoming class, according to WJRT, a local ABC affiliate. See a video of the story.

NEW OPEN-ACCESS JOURNAL: It's called RIO, and it will publish any number of things besides actual papers. See the list


NOW AVAILABLE: An all-new 6th edition of eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's award-winning magazine for middle and high school students. To purchase copies, go to https://store.asee.org/products/egfi-magazine. For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.

2015 ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY LEADERS' INSTITUTE: It’s scheduled for October 9, 2015, and is sponsored by ASEE’s Engineering Technology Council and its Executive Board. For more information, check out this link: