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February 11, 2017



In refusing to reinstate the travel ban, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Washington and Minnesota had "offered ample evidence" of injury. The states contended that their universities' teaching and research missions would be harmed by the effect of President Trump's executive order "on their faculty and students who are nationals of the seven affected countries," the judges wrote. "These students and faculty cannot travel for research, academic collaboration, or for personal reasons, and their families abroad cannot visit. Some have been stranded outside the country, unable to return to the universities at all. The schools cannot consider attractive student candidates and cannot hire faculty from the seven affected countries, which they have done in the past."  The order blocked two Washington State University visiting scholars and three prospective University of Washington employees. and two medicine and science interns. Trump says he may issue a revised order. 

EARLY DETAINEES - 2 ENGINEERING ACADEMICS: Arghavan Louhghalam, pictured above right, and her husband, Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni, were detained for nearly four hours at Boston's Logan Airport Jan. 28 on their return from a weeklong sustainable engineering conference in Marseille, France, the Boston Globe reported. Their detention formed the initial basis of an American Civil Liberties Union case - one of several around the country - that resulted in a temporary restraining order halting implementation of President Trump's travel ban. Legal U.S. residents originally from Iran, both are civil engineers at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where she's an assistant professor and he's an associate professor. Both earned doctorates at Johns Hopkins. Their case became moot when the White House said certain provisions of the order didn't apply to green card holders. - Photo: UMass Dartmouth website

STILL ANXIOUS: Abolfazl “Kouros” Mohammadian, who heads the civil and materials engineering department at the University of Illinois - Chicago, tells WBEZ a “large portion” of his graduate students come from Iran. “I am in a situation where I don’t know what we have to do with the applications we are reviewing right now,” he says. “People are contacting me asking, ‘Should I apply to Australia? Should I apply to Canada? Should I apply to Europe?’" 

STEVE BANNON ON ENGINEERING SCHOOLS: The Washington Post found these 2016 remarks in a review of past radio interviews and other public comments by the White House strategist:  

The “progressive plutocrats in Silicon Valley,” Bannon said, want unlimited ability to go around the world and bring people back to the United States. “Engineering schools,” Bannon said, “are all full of people from South Asia, and East Asia. . . . They’ve come in here to take these jobs.” Meanwhile, Bannon said, American students “can’t get engineering degrees; they can’t get into these graduate schools because they are all foreign students. When they come out, they can’t get a job.”


DON'T 'JUNK THE WHOLE CLIMATE ENTERPRISE': New information emerging about William Happer, the Princeton physicist who met with President Trump during the transition, include the fact that he's a registered Democrat who voted for Trump and is now "in the running to be Trump’s science advisor," according to the Atlantic's Olga Khazan. In an interview with the Scientist, Happer "said he would accept the science advisor position 'if they offered it.'" While saying climate change had become "a cult," he "would be inclined to . . . keep the same level of funding for all of our observational programs—measuring atmospheric levels of CO2, measuring ocean temperature and salinity, our buoy networks, measuring atmospheric properties from satellites. I’ve always thought that we got our money’s worth from those types of measurements that are well-calibrated, well-maintained. . . . Many people feel like you ought to junk the whole climate enterprise, but I don’t feel that way at all."

A CALL TO EXPAND DoD LABS' MISSION: In a recent report, a Defense Science Board task force says it "found that the Labs operate under significantly more restrictive environments than their peer labs in the Department of Energy (DOE), overseas and private industry, including the ability to plan their portfolio, manage to their budget, hire, and compensate their people and maintain and renew their infrastructure." This could change. "Open innovation is about building a presence in and bridges with innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley, the Boston Corridor, and others. The Labs are mostly absent from these hotspots and the cost to their mission in support of the warfighter is very real.. . . [T]hey are not able to act as the eyes and ears of the DoD when it comes to technologies and talent in these areas. The Task Force believes that the Labs should establish a robust presence in each such innovation hub including locating researchers and engineers locally so they can take advantage of the technology transition opportunities as well as the local talent pool." 


DREAM REVISITED: Bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would codify a "provisional protected presence" for undocumented young people who were born after June 15, 1981; entered the United States before attaining 16 years of age; and continuously resided in the United States between June 15, 2007, and the date on which they file an application. As for comprehensive immigration reform, President Trump seemed open to the idea during a meeting with lawmakers this week. But CQ reports that "a hyper-partisan atmosphere in Congress combined with the bitter legacy of the last failed overhaul" makes it unlikely. 

'CHANGE THE CULTURE': The National Science Foundation's inspector general told a Senate hearing that improving oversight of NSF's large facility cooperative agreements will require a "continuing commitment to change the culture at NSF,” according to an account by the American Institute of Physics. IG Allison Lerner said "it's early to give them a grade on implementation.” On the topic of so-called rotators, Lerner "noted that NSF paid close to $9 million" for 27 executive-level rotators in 2015. The highest salary was $440,000. 


Source for all charts: Council of Graduate Schools, International Graduate Applications and Enrollment. 


ENGINEERS BEHIND THE SELFIE: "Four engineers responsible for developing the imaging sensor technology used in all today’s digital cameras and smartphones will share the £1 million Queen Elizabeth Prize, the world’s top award for engineering innovation," the Financial Times reports. Eric Fossum, right, professor of engineering at Dartmouth, shared the award with Michael Tompsett, a Briton working in the U.S.; American George Smith, and Nobukazu Teranishi of Japan. The prize was awarded for three innovations spanning three decades: the charge coupled device (CCD), the pinned photodiode (PPD), and the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor. The last was Fossum's achievement. 


WHAT ENGINEERING SOCIETIES THINK: As part of its exploration of how societies can help improve engineering education, the National Academy of Engineering arranged for interviews with a number of society leaders. Among concerns were a lack of preparation among graduates for work in particular industries. Areas needing more concerted effort included "faculty preparation to be instructors in engineering; addressing the lack of hands-on/application experiences for undergraduates; a re-focus on the design side of engineering; an emphasis on the business side of engineering (such as financial and general business acumen); support for how to integrate new teaching technologies into the engineering classroom and for preparing engineers for new technologies . . . ." 

NEW ACADEMY MEMBERS: The National Academy of Engineering has elected 84 new members and 22 foreign members. See the list.  


ASEE President-elect Bevlee Watford (seated third from right) chaired the annual Deans' Summit hosted by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) last fall. The Seattle gathering of deans, associate deans, and administrators was part of a broader initiative by SHPE to promote diversity in academia through graduate development, faculty development (e.g. ASSIST grant), and workforce development, writes Edgar Peña, an engineering graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. For more information, contact the Deans' Summit committee: deansummit@shpe.org. 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - COMMUNITY SERVICE EVENT AT ANNUAL CONFERENCE: ASEE's Community Engagement Division (CED), in collaboration with the Toy Adaptation Program at Ohio State University (OSU), and is organizing the Third Annual service event for all ASEE members. "During this event, we will reverse engineer everyday toys to allow children with special needs to enjoy and use the toys." Participants will also have the opportunity to talk with community and campus partners to learn how to bring this program to their own institutions. Questions: Please contact Malini Natarajarathinam at malini@tamu.edu. 

PUBLIC POLICY COLLOQUIUM PRESENTATIONS NOW ONLINE: Click here for all materials from the two-day meeting of engineering deans.


The annual ASEE Engineering Deans Institute (EDI) provides an opportunity for engineering deans- and only deans- to gather and discuss the crucial issues facing their schools, colleges, and profession. For a few days, a single-stream program fosters dialogue between deans, industry leaders, and those in important roles in research and government. Deans share best practices, learn about career prospects for their graduates, and develop a voice for engineering education and the role of engineering in society. Social activities and plenty of time for conversation encourage the cultivation of relationships and an intensely rewarding experience.

Early registration rates end March 10, 2017. Click here for more information.

PRISM PODCASTS: This new feature, produced by Nathan Kahl, debuted with a report on the Mobile Virtual Player, developed by students at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering. Listen to this and subsequent podcasts 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.