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March 26, 2015




Amid stiff conservative resistance to adopting any budget without the promise of $30 billion in cuts, the House Budget Committee has issued a blueprint with R&D provisions in sync with the priorities of Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. It would wipe out the Commerce Department, merging the National Institute of Standards and Technology into the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration into the Interior Department. It suggests eliminating the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program, and "reduces spending for numerous climate-change-related activities and research."

Stressing basic research, the committee's report says certain high-risk projects at the Department of Energy's Office of Science belong in the private sector and questions much of the work funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. It also cites "clear overlap and duplication" in DOE research grants and calls for greater oversight. For NSF, it offers "stable funding for . . . biological, computing, and information sciences; basic research in math and the physical sciences," and STEM education. To Science's Jeff Mervis, this "assigns second-class status" to engineering, geoscience, and the social and behavioral sciences. See the budget resolution text

SPENDING BILLS IN DOUBT: With House leaders still struggling to appease conservative budget cutters while adhering to last year's bipartisan budget agreement, leading House appropriator Tom Cole (R-Okla.) says Congress "will probably need to pass a continuing resolution in September to avoid a government shutdown," CQ reports. As for the 12 appropriation bills, Cole tells C-SPAN: "“We’ll be ready to move bills. But that becomes a larger leadership decision, that we think our conference is ready to pass them.” 

'BOOSTER' FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES: Democratic measures in the House and Senate entitled the Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act of 2016 would provide $15 million a year for five years through NSF to fund online workshops; mentoring; internships for undergraduates and grad students; outreach to K-12, and programs to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty. So far, they lack Republican co-sponsors.

Photo: Jennifer Pocock captured Washington cherry blossoms in full bloom.



A new U.S. Department of Education report spotlights colleges and universities with relatively reasonable costs for low-income students and high six-year graduation rates. The Hechinger Report, however, notes "[t]here are complications with preparing lists like this," and contends "college-by-college graduation rates reported by the Department of Education for low-income students are largely wrong . . . according to independent reviews."

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need. See the report for footnotes deleted here.


EXPANDED EXCHANGES: Cuba will become a participating country in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, which brings 200 mid-career professionals from developing countries to the United States for non-degree study and professional experiences, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which offers grants for U.S. undergraduates to pursue academic studies or internships abroad. The White House announced that members of the Cuban-American community have committed $1 million to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, "which provides opportunities to create university partnerships that enhance regional competitiveness and provide new study abroad opportunities." Cuba-specific innovation competitions in both countries will "advance student exchanges focused on entrepreneurship, with a secondary focus on agricultural management, business and social innovation, environmental and sustainable energy, language learning, international trade and development, study abroad infrastructure, and cultural collaborations." Learn more.

NASA FUNDS 137 SBIR PROJECTS submitted by 117 small businesses and research institutions. Out of 323 proposals, the space agency picked "134 SBIR Phase II General proposals, with a total value of approximately $100.5 million, and three Phase II Select proposals, valued at approximately $3.8 million, for contract negotiations under Phase II of the SBIR program." See the list.

'MAJOR GAPS EXIST in our understanding of water availability, quality and dynamics, as well as the impact of human activity and a changing climate on the water system," NSF says in announcing new research and training initiatives. They include: $20 million "to support cutting-edge water-research projects through the NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research" (EPSCoR); $2 million to educate technicians for high-technology fields . . . through the NSF Advanced Technology Education program";.workshops to support an interagency a National Water Resource Recovery Test Bed Facility network; and a new initiative on "water sustainability through nanotechnology."


BLACK STUDENTS LAG IN GRADUATION GAINS: A report by the Education Trust finds that "In the past decade, graduation rates for black students at four-year, public institutions have improved. But progress for other student groups has been faster, widening long-standing gaps. Some institutions, however, have effectively closed their gaps, providing a model for others to do the same." Among those schools are the University of Buffalo and Ohio State.

'ENGINEERS OF JIHAD' is the title of a book by social scientists Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog that attempts to answer why an unexpectedly large proportion of violent extremists have studied engineering. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the book and reactions to its main points in a 3,000 word article, which has since drawn some 80 comments. Writer Dan Berrett quotes ASEE Executive Director Norman Fortenberry and several active Society members. A Financial Times review calls the book "an important study."

THE WRONG FIXES: Inside Higher Ed reports on Lesson Plan, by former college presidents William Bowen (Princeton) and Michael McPherson (Macalester), who "make clear early in the book that while higher education has serious problems, they find most punditry and political proposals for higher education to be wrong."

NEW GLOBAL RANKINGS: Schools in the United States, Britain, and East Asia claim top Engineering and Technology spots in the QS World University Rankings for 2015-16.


BRAINS AND BIOPRINTING: Two pairs of attendees at the 2015 Frontiers of Engineering symposium received Grainger grants. Yun Raymond Fu (Northeastern University) and Xue Han (Boston University) will “derive principles of brain neural network architecture using novel machine learning algorithms.” The duo "have devised a system that can record thousands of individual neurons in living mice brains at millisecond scale." Grace O’Connell (UC Berkeley) and Jeanette Garcia (IBM Almaden Research Center) will pursue “biocompatibility and bioprinting of soft materials for tissue repair,” exploring "treatment solutions for patients with musculoskeletal system disease." See 2015 FOE presentations.

$25,000 VIDEO PRIZE: The National Academy of Engineering has announced the 3rd annual Engineering for You Video Contest (E4U3). This year's topic is Mega Engineering - projects that "typically address important needs of large populations and/or societies, require teams working across countries and cultures on a solution, and involve at least three disciplines, including engineering." Examples are human travel to Mars; new large-scale energy sources like fusion; engineering better medicines and access to medical care; economically sweeping the oceans of plastic waste; creating remarkable tools of scientific discovery like the Large Hadron Collider; and building sustainable cities. NAE is looking for 1-2 minute videos that (i) introduce a particular mega-engineering project, (ii) highlight its importance/contribution to people and society, and (iii) suggest contributions to its development. The Grand Prize of $25,000 will go to the most inspiring video. Visit www.e4uvideocontest.org to learn more!


'ENGINEERING-ENHANCED' LIBERAL EDUCATION: ASEE, with financial support from the Teagle Foundation and expert guidance by leading education consultant Sheila Tobias, has launched a website highlighting case studies that examine the benefits of greater integration between the liberal arts and engineering. Find out more

The postmark deadline for paper ballots has been extended to March 31, 2016. Members are encouraged to vote electronically at http://www.asee.org/public
(Note: You must be logged in to vote electronically.)

NORTHEAST SECTION CONFERENCE: The section, with members from  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as Eastern Canada, will hold its annual conference at the University of Rhode Island from Thursday, April 28th, 2016 to Saturday April 30, 2016. The theme will be “Revolutionizing Engineering Education.” See the conference website. The student poster abstract deadline is March 1. Please encourage your undergraduate students to submit their capstone design projects, independent research projects, or other projects in a poster format. Graduate students can submit their project, thesis, or dissertation work as well in a poster format. Abstracts must be less than 1200 words.

LGBTQ Safe Zone Ally Training – FREE Online Workshop Series: Join ASEE next month for two interactive workshops that will help you build the knowledge and skills needed to create a more inclusive and affirming environment for LGBTQ individuals in engineering. These Level 1 workshops, applicable to students, faculty, and the professional community, will focus on understanding LGBTQ concepts, developing awareness of privilege, and explore ways to become an LGTBQ ally. Workshops occur on April 18 and April 28 from 2-4 PM, ET. Learn more and register today!


Engineering & Engineering Technology Chairs Conclave

Join us at the ASEE Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA on June 26, 2016 for the inaugural Chairs Conclave, an exclusive forum for Engineering and Engineering Technology Chairs to exchange ideas, share experiences, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. This full day event, designed by Chairs, for Chairs, includes presentations on relevant topics including financial development and managing external connections, and facilitated opportunities for group discussion and brainstorming.  Register today – space is limited! Learn more and view the full agenda.

New Navigation Section - Papers Management:

The new section contains upcoming deadlines, guidelines, call for papers, and kits for authors, program chairs, reviewers, and moderators.

Author's Kits are Available:
• The 2016 Annual Conference Author's Kit -- available on the website -- contains extremely important information regarding the submission process as well as all relevant deadline dates.

THE ST. LAWRENCE SECTION CONFERENCE will be held at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.,  April 8-9, 2016. This year the conference will include several workshops. The calls for papers, presentations, posters and workshops as well as  information about the Conference Program, Registration, and Hotel information is available on http://stl.asee.org/conference_2016.html.

eGFI Summer Reading: Is your school hosting an engineering camp, bridge program, or professional development session for K-12 teachers this summer? Jump-start the learning with eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's award-winning magazine for middle and high school students. Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, eGFI aims to get teens fired up about engineering. To purchase copies, go to http://store.asee.org/  For bulk purchases or other inquiries, contact eGFI@asee.org or call 202-331-3500.