Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

                                   July 14, 2018



University groups are worried about a House-passed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Authored by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the measure would, they say, prohibit Pentagon funding of researchers "who have in the past or are currently participating in a 'foreign talent or expert recruitment program' of China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea." Institutions would be required to certify that DoD funds "will not be made available to an individual who has or is currently participating in such a talent or expert recruitment program." University groups hope to persuade House and Senate conferees to include instead the kind of language in an amendment by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). It authorizes a DoD-created forum that would "work with other national security agencies to engage universities to discuss and determine effective means to address issues involving national security." 

ARTIFICIAL, BUT STILL INTELLIGENCE: The House Intelligence Committee, in authorizing spending for the 16-agency spy community--including at the Pentagon--says it's "critical" that  DoD bring artificial  intelligence,  deep  learning,  and  computer  vision "to streamline  the  process  of  object  detection,  identification,  and  tracking—and  allow  analysts  to  focus  their  valuable  cognitive  capacity on the hardest and highest priority problems." In its report, the panel calls for "a  transformation  in  the  way  the  intelligence  enterprise processes,  organizes,  and  presents  data." (A National Academies panel addresses the topic. See below.)

The committee bill, which passed the House 363-54 Thursday, authorizes 1.9 percent more than the administration sought, CQ reports, with unspecified amounts for “artificial intelligence and cutting-edge technologies.” The measure also allows the Intelligence Community to set higher pay for employers in STEM and cyber fields Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved its version of the legislation.

DIA SLAMMED ON DIVERSITY EFFORT: House lawmakers seek to end the Defense Intelligence Agency's authority over the  IC Centers  of  Academic  Excellence  in  National  Security Studies (CAE), a  program  set up in 2004  to encourage "highly  qualified  students  of  diverse  backgrounds" to pursue careers in the intelligence community (IC). In its report, the committee complains that intelligence agencies have apparently ceased collecting and analyzing data on participating units and educational institutions as well as students' demographic information. Worse, the IC "currently  cannot  provide statistical  evidence  as  to  whether,  or  to  what  extent,  the  CAE  program is fulfilling its objectives." A congressionally directed CAE summer internship apparently shows little success in meeting program objectives. Accordingly, House members want the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to run CAE and not delegate it.

MORE DATA FOR RESEARCHERS? The House Intelligence Committee wants the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to explore "providing the private sector and academia, on a need-driven  and  limited  basis—consistent  with  the  protection  of sources  and  methods,  as  well  as  privacy  and  civil  liberties—access to  data  in  the  possession  of  the  NGA  for  the  purpose  of  assisting the efforts of the private sector and academia in basic research, applied  research,  data  transfers,  and  the  development  of  automation, artificial  intelligence,  and  associated  algorithms."

FIRST SPENDING CONFERENCE UNDER WAY: House-Senate negotiators are taking up three appropriations measures, according to CQ: the fiscal 2019 Energy-Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction-VA bills. Meanwhile, Lewis-Burke Associates reports that appropriators in both House and Senate want to provide more than the Trump administration requested in a spending bill funding student aid and other education programs. The House spendfing bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) would fund the Department of Education (ED) at $74.4 billion while the Senate’s version would fund ED at $74.9 billion. "Both versions are significantly higher than the $63 billion in ED funding requested by the President."


DOD's 'DIGITAL ENGINEERING TRANSFORMATION': A new strategy put out by the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for systems engineering "is intended to guide the planning, development, and implementation of the digital engineering transformation" across the department. It calls for tapping into "skills, ingenuity, and advancements" through "enduring collaborations across the government, international partners, Services, academia, federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), and industry." (Thanks to ASME's Capitol Update for alerting us.)

MONEY MANAGER TAPPED: The White House nominee as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy is S. Lane Genatowski, "currently a managing partner in investments in Dividend Income Advisors, a firm he founded in 2012.  Prior to that, Mr. Genatowski was a senior energy investment banker and business group manager at JP Morgan Chase, Kidder, Peabody, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.  His involvement in the energy industry started in 1976 as an attorney at Hawkins, Delafield & Wood in New York.  Mr. Genatowski earned a bachelor’s degree from the City University of New York and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law."

INNER LIFE OF BATTERIES: "New batteries that last longer and charge in about the same amount of time as it takes to fill the car’s gas tank could change the face of transportation. For scientists, the challenge is seeing what happens inside a battery while it charges or powers vehicles," reports a Department of Energy newsletter. At the Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties (m2M), led by Stony Brook University, "researchers created lithium titanate batteries with designer windows." Find out what they learned.

BROADER IMPACT SOUGHT FOR MANUFACTURING RESEARCH: The National Science Foundation has changed its description of the Advanced Manufacturing Cluster "to remove the appearance of intellectual boundaries between topics foundational to advanced manufacturing research, and to encourage principal investigators (PIs) to incorporate challenges and convergent approaches outside the customary manufacturing portfolio to broaden the impact of America's advanced manufacturing research. Research areas will span the full range of advanced manufacturing to build new science leading to fundamental changes and improvements in manufacturing. Innovative proposals which transcend or cross domain boundaries are encouraged." See the Dear Colleague Letter.

NOW HIRING: "The Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS), within the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation, announces a nationwide search for senior-level engineering researcher to fill an open Program Director position in the Electronics, Photonics, and Magnetic Devices (EPMD) area." Learn more.

BEING SMART ABOUT AI: The first plenary session of the National Science Board's meeting July 17 will feature presentations and a panel discussion on artificial intelligence. Speakers are: Andrew Moore of Carnegie Mellon, Michael Jordan, University of California - Berkeley, Daniela Rus, MIT (pictured), Charles Isbell, Georgia Tech, and NSF's James Kurose, currently at the White House. See the board's agenda.

BACK FROM BOOT CAMP: By the time of their meeting, members of the NSB will have held a “listening session” at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) Boot Camp. They planned to "hear from students and faculty about their experiences and views, related to the skilled technical workforce (STW), made up of individuals who use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and skills in their jobs but who do not have a bachelor’s degree." See a related board policy statement.



Source for both grahics: Congressional Research Service, Global Research and Development Expenditures Fact Sheet


'ENGINES OF UPWARD MOBILITY': The American Council on Education says minority-serving institutions (MSIs) "propel their students from the bottom to the top of the income distribution at higher rates than do non-MSIs. . . . HSIs (Hispanic-serving institutions) in particular had a mobility rate three times that of non-MSIs (4.3 percent compared to 1.5 percent). The mobility rate at Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), PBIs, and HBCUs was double that of non-MSIs." See the report. (Image: Austin Community College)


OIL-SPILL PREPAREDNESS: The National Academies' Gulf Research Program, together with the Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Program, will convene "a series of workshops aimed at improving community preparedness for future oil spills. The workshops, to be held in five regions around the United States, will bring together practitioners and stakeholders focusing on lessons learned about the health, social, and economic impacts of oil spills and identify regional needs and priorities for improving preparedness." Read More

SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS: An unnecessary divide exists between the two, and the relationship will need to improve if technologies useful to the intelligence community are to be developed, contends Stephen Fiore of the University of Central Florida. He participated in a National Academies workshop on workforce development and intelligence analysis. 



. . . And from 2018 CoNECD, the Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference. Find those presentations here.

SEND US AN ANECDOTE: Prism magazine is putting together a special edition honor of ASEE's 125th anniversary—and we would love to hear from you! How has your membership influenced your career? For instance, did connections made at a conference help you land a job? Were you inspired to alter your teaching or perhaps create a robotics league? Please leave a few sentences to let us know, as well as your name and email address so that we can follow up. The best quotes will appear in the upcoming special issue! Click here to join the survey. 

The Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) editorial team is considering changes to our strategic plan, processes for publishing articles, and formats for articles. We would like to gather input from members of the engineering education community to help better inform these decisions. Please complete this survey to provide your feedback. The survey is short and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

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