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October 28, 2016



Although Democrats are widely reported to have a better chance of reclaiming the Senate than the House, "political handicappers predict a more closely divided House, with the majority coming down to perhaps a handful of seats," CQ reports. Republicans currently hold 60 more seats than Demcrats. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicts a single-digit majority "either way." House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), meanwhile, faces a post-election challenge from conservatives in his caucus. The Washington Post's "The Fix" blog says Democrats are "positioned to take back the Senate," despite Republicans' "impressive job" of trying to hold the chamber. 

See the most recent polling on House races and Senate races as compiled by Real Clear Politics.

LINE-UP OF KEY COMMITTEE LEADERS: Bloomberg Government has put together presentations on the main contenders in the House and the Senate


Graphic by Jennifer Pocock; Source: U.S. Department of Education. Click here for a larger version.


COMPUTER SCIENCE TALENT SEARCH: Accepting three recommendations from his Defense Innovation Board, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Carter plans "targeted recruiting initiatives" to bring talented computer scientists and software engineers into the military and civilian department workforce. The initiatives will draw from reserve officer training and scholarship-for-service programs. To focus more on machine learning, the Pentagon will conduct challenges and prize competitions and set up a "virtual center of excellence." Carter also plans to create the position of DoD chief innovation officer to advise the defense secretary and spearhead innovation. He spoke today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Read more and see a video. According to CQ, Carter said a program to create “swarming drones” that can attack targets on land or at sea took a “large step forward this week.” And the Army Tactical Missile System is being retrofitted with a new seeker to enable it to launch from the coast and hit ships nearly 200 miles away.

PUBLIC ACCESS TO RESEARCH: The White House says 19 departments and agencies now have plans to give the public access to peer-reviewed publications resulting from federally funded research. The latest additions are the Department of Education, Agency for International Development, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "Together, agencies with approved public access plans account for more than 98 percent of U.S. Federal expenditures on R&D." The 16 agencies whose plans were previously approved require researchers to ensure access "not more than 12 months after the publication date."  

GRANT PROCESS CHANGES COMING: The National Science Foundation has published a guide to changes and clarifications that will take effect January 30, 2017. "The document will now be referred to solely as the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)." See the changes.

GOODBYE DLS, HELLO DS AND SL: The Developmental and Learning Sciences (DLS) program (within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences) is now the Developmental Sciences (DS) program. It will address "developmental processes within the domains of cognitive, social, emotional, and motor development across the lifespan by working with any appropriate populations for the topics of interest including infants, children, adolescents, and adults." A Science of Learning (SL) program "supports basic theoretical insights and fundamental knowledge about learning principles, processes and constraints."

COST-SHARING FOR ROTATORS: NSF, hoping to show a commitment to saving tax dollars, wants universities to pay 10 percent of the salaries of faculty members who join the agency on a temporary basis for up to four years, ScienceInsider reports. The new policy will also curb travel and "eliminate subsidies for lost consulting opportunities," and "could make it more difficult for the agency to attract talented academic help. . . . The average rotator earns $36,500 more than a federal employee in the same position would receive." 

Source: Science Insider, National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General

JOINT RESEARCH WITH BRAZILIANS: NSF's Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Directorate is teaming up with a Brazilian R&D agency "to support, foster, and accelerate fundamental research in cybersecurity." Two workshops showed "considerable interest" among researchers. Proposals will have to be submitted separately to each country's agency. Learn more.


KNOW MORE THAN THE CONTRACTORS: That would appear to be a layman's translation of the phrase "owning the technical baseline," subject of a new report by the National Academies. The U.S. Air Force, it says, "now faces serious challenges in acquiring and maintaining its weapons systems as it strives to maintain its current programs; add new capabilities to counter evolving threats; and reduce its overall program expenditures. Owning the technical baseline . . . allows the government acquisition team to manage and respond knowledgeably and effectively to systems development, operations, and execution, thereby avoiding technical and other programmatic barriers to mission success." 

COMMUNICATING THE HAZARDS: A new National Academies report summarizes a workshop "intended to collect experienced views on how to characterize and communicate information about climate-related hazards, risks, and opportunities that will support decision makers in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce vulnerability to likely changes in climate, and increase resilience to those changes." 


PAUL PEERCY DIES: The dean of engineering emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was an ASEE Fellow and former chair of the Engineering Deans Council. See the college's obituary. 

SAFE ZONE ALLY TRAINING WEBINAR SERIES – Level 2: Take part in creating a positive and inclusive environment for LGBTQ individuals in STEM by joining ASEE for three free Level 2 Safe Zone Ally Training webinars. Building upon the Level 1 webinars presented in Spring 2016, ASEE is offering a  one-hour “deep dive” on LGBTQ and engineering culture December 6. Register today. Missed Level 1? View the slides and recording-on-demand here.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: The 2017 ASEE Annual Conference will include a cross-divisional session entitled, "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Role of Engineering Education towards Attaining UN Sustainable Development Goals." The full Call for Papers can be found on the Conference website. 

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: WORKSHOP ON BUILDING RESEARCH CAPACITY FOR STEM FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: Building Research Capacity for STEM Faculty Development is an NSF-sponsored working conference that brings together experts from around the country to develop a national research agenda focused on faculty development in the STEM disciplines. February 16-18, 2017 at Clemson University. Apply 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.