Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

                                                               March 12, 2020  



Sponsored by Science, Space, and Technology chair Eddie Bernice Johnson, ranking Republican Frank Lucas, and others on the panel, the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act would "create a network of AI institutes, coordinated through the National Science Foundation, that any Federal department or agency could fund to create partnerships between academia and  public and private sectors to accelerateAI research," the committee says. Specific responsibilities are spelled out for NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy. Among the bill's findings: The education pipeline "faces significant challenges"; the  federal  government  lacks a "clear  understanding" of AI capabilities; and researchers  from  academia,  federal  labs and much  of  the  private  sector  have limited  access to high quality data and facilities. See a one-page summary a section-by-section breakdown, and a committee press release. The bill has won plaudits from tech organizations, IBM, Carnegie Mellon, and others. Watch a hearing by the committee's research subcommittee on reauthorization of NIST.

CORONAVIRUS AID CLEARS HOUSE: "The first round of economic assistance for families and businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic is on its way to the Senate after the House passed it by a vote of 363-40," CQ reports. President Trump has said he will sign it. The bill would "provide paid sick leave, free diagnostic testing and expanded food aid to help families and businesses cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to CQ.

MOVING ALONG: Sponsored by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), the five-year $165 million Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act now awaits action by the full House Science committee. It would promote collaboration and research opportunities in the field of energy-critical elements for researchers and students from DOE laboratories, industry, and institutions of higher education; direct the coordination of federal agencies to promote a stable supply of ECEs; require the Department of Energy to develop and update a strategic plan for ECEs every two years; and create a Critical Materials Information Center. Swalwell says the 35 ECEs "are crucial components of a broad range of advanced technologies, including cell phones, laptops, jet engines, gas and wind turbines, petroleum refining catalysts, nuclear reactors, solar panels, and state-of-the-art batteries for hybrid vehicles." The United States relies on imports for many of them. 


UP TO 5 MORE ERCs EXPECTED: The National Science Foundation anticipates spending up to $130 million for up to five new Engineering Research Centers over the first five years (they usually last 10 years). Issuing its second solicitation under Generation 4 of the venerable program, NSF says: "The Gen-4 ERCs will continue to focus on advancing engineered systems through inclusive cross-disciplinary and cross-sector partnerships, while placing emphasis on basic research with high-risk/high-payoff ideas that will lead to societal impact through convergent approaches, engaging stakeholder communities, and strengthening team formation." Awards are expected in the summer of 2022. See the solicitation.  

FAST FORWARD TOGETHER: Resarchers who received a Convergence Accelerator award from NSF may apply for Phase II, which "seeks to build upon the Pilot Phase I research . . .  leading to rapid research advances that can deliver useful results to society." Successful proposals are expected to have a convergence research approach; a strong, multi-organization partnership involving researchers, users, and other stakeholders; a high probability of successful deliverables within a two-year period that will ultimately benefit society; and a  "strong alignment with the track goals." See the solicitation.

'QUANTUM ALGORITHM CHALLENGE': That's the heading atop an NSF Dear Colleague letter inviting 3-page Research Concept Outlines (RCOs) "describing research ideas that may lead to EAGER (Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) (EAGER)4 or Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE)5 proposals focused on:  QSA: quantum computing simulation algorithms for quantum many-body systems; QIA: quantum information algorithms, which aims to expand the set of known quantum-computing algorithms with application in computer science, mathematics, and statistics; and QCH: quantum computing horizons which explores potentially transformative new paradigms for quantum computation. Find out more.

GOT IDEAS FOR COVID-19 R&D? Department of Energy facilities are home to cryo-electron microscopes, light sources, and neutron sources--not to mention world-leading supercomputers--and host a number of biotech initiatives. Chris Fall, director of the Office of Science, is seeking "ideas about how DOE and the National Labs might contribute resources to help address COVID-19 through science and technology efforts and collaborations." See his Dear Colleague letter.


Full-time S&E doctoral students, by field and mechanism of primary support: 2017

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. Click here for an interactive version with more detail.

Full-time graduate students in science, engineering, and health primarily supported by federal sources, by agency: 1995–2017

Source: NCSES. Click here for an interactive version with more detail. 


POST-DISASTER SUPPLY CHAINS: The 2017 hurricane season brought 17 named storms, "and the 3 most impactful—Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria—were unprecedented in different ways," a new National Academies report says. "Each storm individually posed substantial challenges to emergency management officials, and their occurrence in such quick succession stretched response capacities tremendously. A large part of this challenge was managing the movement of relief supplies and supporting the supply chains that provided the basic commodities necessary for survival." Read the report.

MORE EFFECTIVE MENTORING: The National Academies' Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) will host a webinar to discuss ways for institutions to strategically enhance the effectiveness of mentorship practices in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM), based on the findings and recommendations of a recent National Academies report. Speakers: Christiane Spitzmueller, Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston, and Maria Lund Dahlberg, Program Officer at the National Academies.Mar 18, 2020 01:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register for the webinar.


Note to
As a service to engineering schools conducting online classes due to the coronavirus, the April issue of Connections will be devoted to innovative and practical tools and techniques to adapt laboratory teaching to a virtual classroom. Please send examples to m.matthews@asee.org


Training Tomorrow’s Engineers to Combat Climate Change

April 15 at 1 PM, ET: In support of Earth Day 2020, tune in for a new webinar and learn how two NSF-funded projects, RISE-UP and ReNUWIt, are training tomorrow’s engineers to build resilience and combat the effects of climate change through robust interdisciplinary initiatives. Register today: http://bit.ly/2Tlt4F9

Storytelling to Advance Research and Teaching - 

April 9 at 1 PM, ET: What’s your story? Tune in to learn how storytelling techniques can be used to propel your research and teaching, helping you communicate research impacts, write proposals, share best teaching practices, and teach difficult concepts. Learn more and register at http://bit.ly/3c99jba.

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