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                                                          February 24, 2018         



Nine days away from President Trump's deadline for Congress to act to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children, all legislative paths look blocked. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said he'll only allow the House to vote on an immigration bill that has support from the White House. At the moment, that's the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte (left photo) and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul. But Roll Call reports "there are not yet enough votes to advance the Goodlatte-McCaul measure through the House. No Democrats support it, and many moderate Republicans are opposed or have concerns." Even if the bill passed the House, "it would have no chance of passing the Senate, whose next move on DACA is unclear." The Atlantic reports that the fight over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) risks pitting "Dreamer" advocates against groups that now benefit from other visa programs targeted by conservatives.

4 PERCENT REAL GROWTH? In a pitch that only weeks ago might have seemed risibly unrealistic, advocates for federal R&D funding are coalescing around a four percent hike above inflation as their "ask." The Coalition for National Science Funding has urged appropriators to boost the National Science Foundation by that percentage for FY 2018 and is considering doing the same again for FY 2019. The increase would raise NSF to $8 billion in the current year after several years of flat appropriations. Advocates for the Department of Energy's Office of Science are of like mind, buoyed by the added money for descretionary spending in the recent bipartisan budget deal. Four percent was not pulled out of thin air; it's the amount recommended by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Restoring the Foundation report and by a call to action led by research-oriented corporations entitled Innovation: An American Imperative.

HATS IN THE RING: A half-dozen or more engineers are vying for congressional seats in what ScienceInsider reports is "unusual interest from the scientific community" in the 2018  midterm elections. See the list of primary contenders. Among incumbents facing an intra-party contest is Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), a mechanical engineer-turned-political scientist who is a strong supporter of government-funded research. "Activist Marie Newman represents his strongest primary challenger in years." 

CARBON CAPTURE - IT'S BACK: The departure of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) removed the Capitol's strongest champion of carbon capture and sequestration, but some 50 trade groups and businesses are trying to kick-start the movement, CQ reports. Congress recently "passed a tax credit meant to spur investment in the developing industry," and the groups see an opportunity in the Trump administration's infrastructure push.

UNIVERSITIES WEIGH IN ON HIGHER ED BILL: The Association of American Universities, which represents leading public and private institutions, has sent a six-page letter​ to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee spelling out what it wants to see in a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The letter addresses affordability; access; financial support for graduate students; consumer information; student progress and degree completion; accreditation; international education; promoting innovation; and deregulation. Among other things, it urges that states "be incentivized to recommit financial resources" to higher ed. Congress should encourage MOOCs and other "creative options" but be "cautious when considering whether to expand federal student aid eligibility to such efforts." 

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SCIENCE: Rhonda Davis, right, who heads the National Science Foundation's Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is listed as the lead-off witness Tuesday at a House Science subcommittee hearing to review "sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct in science." The panel wants to "learn how science agencies and research institutions handle complaints under current policy and law, assess the impact of harassment on women’s participation in science, and discuss recommendations for improving the complaint and resolution process as well as the culture in science." To watch the hearing, check the panel's website.


NORTHERN LOOKOUT: The National Science Foundation's Navigating the New Arctic program seeks "convergent approaches to emerging scientific, engineering, societal, and education challenges" in the region, including such topics as "establishment of observational research sites, observational platforms, or networks of sites to document key aspects of the changing Arctic coupled across terrestrial, marine, glacial, atmospheric and social systems." Also of interest: "studies of feedbacks between the design and engineering of urban and rural civil infrastructure and changes in natural ecosystems such as thawing permafrost and sea ice retreat and social systems such as increasing marine commerce." Find out more. 

SAYONARA: NSF's Tokyo office, which opened in 1960, will soon be closed, along with offices in Brussels and Beijing. The agency says it is "changing to a new overseas presence and updating our approach as to how we support international scientific collaboration. . . . The new approach will deploy NSF experts for short-term expeditions to selected areas to explore opportunities for collaboration." On March 1, Nancy Sung, head of the Beijing Office, will provide an update on NSF-China engagement over the last year and discuss "ongoing activities and future directions, including changes to the overseas offices." See how to participate remotely.

BRIGHT IDEAS FOR HEALTH: NSF's Smart and Connected Health program seeks to "develop next-generation multidisciplinary science that encourages existing and new research communities to focus on breakthrough ideas in a variety of areas of value to health, such as networking, pervasive computing, advanced analytics, sensor integration, privacy and security, modeling of socio-behavioral and cognitive processes and system and process modeling." Learn more.

STREAMLINING TECH TRANSFER: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will soon come out with a request for information that will be followed by three public forums. Later, NIST plans to publish recommendations "to significantly increase technology transfer outcomes from the federal sector, universities, and research organizations" and attract more private sector investment. Learn more



COLLABORATION WITH EGYPT: The U.S. - Egypt Science and Technology (S&T) Joint Fund was established to strengthen scientific and technological capabilities between both countries. Proposals for U.S. - Egypt S&T collaborative research projects and Egyptian junior scientist development visits will be accepted until the deadline of 11:59 pm Cairo time on March 8, 2018. The program is implemented in the U.S. by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and in Egypt by the Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF). Learn more

Check out current projects.


ANNUAL SALARY SURVEY: Help ASEE create quality national benchmarks of engineering faculty salaries!
ASEE conducts an annual engineering faulty salary survey, and we need your school’s faculty salaries to create quality national benchmarks. The survey can be accessed at https://salarysurvey.asee.org. The survey will run until March 23, 2018. This online survey of tenured and tenure-track faculty is free of charge to participate. Schools that opt to pay $500 will receive access to our peer-group creation tool which allows schools to create aggregate salary reports based on groups of peer schools they select.  Please direct any questions to Brian Yoder at b.yoder@asee.org or 202-331-3535.

ASEE IS CO-HOSTING the First Annual CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity - pronounced “connected”) Conference next April 29 to May 1. It will be a forum on enhancing diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups in engineering and computing. CoNECD will encompass many diverse groups, including those based on gender (including gender identity and gender expression), race and ethnicity, disability, veterans, LGBTQ+, 1st generation and socio-economic status. It's a collaboration of ASEE's Minorities in Engineering and Women in Engineering divisions and several outside groups. Registration is now open. Find out more.

ASEE Board Reorganization - Feedback Needed

ASEE ED Norman Fortenberry presents the rationale for a proposed reorganization of the ASEE Board of Directors. Watch a video and  leave your feedback (ASEE member login required; Firefox works best.).

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