In this issue:
PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON JOBS AND COMPETITIVENESS HOLDS LISTENING AND ACTION SESSION ON THE NEED FOR MORE U.S. ENGINEERS
On August 31st, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Intel CEO Paul Otellini joined with business leaders and the Deans of Engineering schools in Portland, Oregon to discuss the need for more U.S. engineers as part of a regional Listening and Action session. The event was hosted by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness High Tech Education working group, which Otellini and Permac Industries CEO and President Darlene Miller co-chair. The panelists discussed how the private and public sectors can help the United States graduate more engineers and answered a few questions from audience members.
“For America to stay competitive in the global market, we must train and retain the world’s best engineers,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “Working together, private industry and the public sector can position the U.S. to continue to lead in science and innovation in the 21st century, creating good jobs and laying the foundation for a robust economy.”
The following Deans of Engineering served as panelists: Dr. Gary May, Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Shankar Sastry, Dean of the College of Engineering at University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Renjeng Su, the Dean of the College of Engineering at Portland State University; and Dr. Leah Jamieson, the Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University. Dr. Telle Whitney, the President & CEO of Anita Borg Institute for Women & Technology, was also in attendance.
Also on August 31st, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness announced that 45 industry leaders, including Boeing, Xerox, General Electric and Facebook, have committed to doubling engineering internships at their companies in 2012, which would increase the number of hands-on, technical opportunities for U.S. students by 6,300.
“Looking forward, this nation is at risk of a significant shortfall of qualified experts in science and math to meet the country’s needs,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. “Today’s announcement is about inspiring and encouraging our next generation of engineers. It’s a private sector commitment working arm and arm with the government to accelerate the specialized skills needed for America to retain its technological pre-eminence.”
These commitments support the Job and Competitiveness Council’s goal to graduate 10,000 more engineering students from U.S. colleges and universities each year.
For more information on the August 31st event, please visit: http://energy.gov/articles/secretary-chu-intel-president-discuss-need-more-us-engineers
Additional information about the industry effort can be found at: http://energy.gov/articles/president-s-council-jobs-and-competitiveness-announces-industry-leaders-commitment-double
ASME President Victoria Rockwell attended a similar listening session in Dallas, Texas on September 1st, which was focused on the importance of infrastructure investment to the U.S. economy.
Melissa Carl handles public policy-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education issues for ASME. She can be reached at: email@example.com
NRC APPROVES EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS REGULATIONS FOR NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS, OTHER FACILITIES
On August 30th, members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) affirmed their votes to approve changes to the emergency preparedness regulations that would potentially enhance emergency preparedness requirements for existing nuclear facilities, as well as for future plants and research and test reactors.
Among the changes in the rule are limitations on the duties of a plant’s onsite emergency responders to ensure they are not overburdened during an emergency event and requirements to incorporate hostile-action-based scenarios in the drills and exercise programs. New requirements for back-up measures for alerting and notification systems are also included in the rule.
In addition, the new rule requires nuclear power plants to update their evacuation time estimates after every U.S. Census or when changes in population would increase the estimate by either 25 percent or 30 minutes, whichever is less.
“Although there are likely to be lessons learned from Japan that will apply to emergency preparedness, I do not think that we need to wait to implement the many enhancements that this rule will provide,” said Chairman Gregory Jaczko. “This rule represents good work on the part of NRC staff members, who have spent several years working on the rule in coordination with other federal agencies and various stakeholders.”
NRC staff members, working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had gathered public comments through multiple meetings held throughout the country in 2009 and 2010 and through a lengthy public comment period. The rule was first put before the Commission in 2006.
The rule will become effective in 30 days and will be published in the Federal Register at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fedreg/notices/2011.html
Robert Rains handle public policy-related energy issues for ASME. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
DOD ANNOUNCES NEW SUPPORT FOR NATIONAL ROBOTICS INITIATIVE
The Department of Defense has announced new support for the National Robotics Initiative through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. This $40 million program, supported by the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, is aimed at strengthening the capability of universities to conduct research and educate scientists and engineers in areas that are important to national defense.
The FY12 program solicitation specifically encourages proposals for purchases of equipment that can support research in robotics, “given the continuing priority of that research area to a wide range of defense technologies and applications, including unmanned ground, air, sea and undersea vehicles and autonomous systems.”
OSTP Deputy Policy Director Tom Kalil noted, “This announcement is critical to the success of the National Robotics Initiative given the role that equipment can play in enabling researchers to develop next-generation applications. We hope that the Defense Department’s investments will serve as a catalyst for additional partnerships between the robotic industry and the academic research community.”
Proposals are due September 20, 2011. The full DOD announcement is available at:
Paul Fakes handles public policy-related defense issues for ASME. He can be reached at: email@example.com
EPA LAUNCHES ELECTRONIC GHG REPORTING TOOL
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new tool to allow 28 industrial sectors to submit their 2010 greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution data electronically. EPA expects to receive 2010 GHG data from approximately 7,000 large industrial GHG emitters and suppliers, including power plants, petroleum refineries and landfills. The agency anticipates that the data collected with the electronic GHG Reporting Tool (e-GGRT) will provide the public with important information about the nation’s largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas pollution. Industries and businesses can also use the data to help find ways to decrease carbon pollution, increase efficiency, and save money.
EPA’s GHG Reporting Program, launched in October 2009, requires the reporting of GHG data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors. Suppliers of products that would emit GHGs if released, combusted, or oxidized are also required to report GHG data. Under this program, covered entities are required to submit GHG data to EPA annually, and the first round of data will be submitted electronically by September 30, 2011.
Detailed information on e-GGRT is available at: http://www.ccdsupport.com/confluence/display/help/Home
Robert Rains handle public policy-related environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
REPORT: EPA NEEDS A MORE COORDINATED APPROACH TO MANAGING ITS LABORATORIES
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in response to a request from House Science, Space and Technology member Brad Miller (D-NC), has concluded that EPA’s research and technical activities are “fragmented and largely uncoordinated.”
Among the findings contained in the 54-page report is the following: “To date, EPA has not requested authority to create a new position of deputy administrator for science and technology and continues to operate its laboratories under the direction of 15 different senior officials using 15 different organizational and management structures. As a result, EPA has limited ability to know if scientific activities are being unintentionally duplicated among the laboratories or if opportunities exist to collaborate and share scientific expertise, equipment, and facilities across EPA’s organizational boundaries.”
The report recommends that the EPA Administrator take the following actions to improve cohesion in the management and operation of the agency’s laboratories:
- Develop an overarching issue-based planning process that reflects the collective goals, objectives, and priorities of the laboratories' scientific activities;
- Establish a top-level science official with the authority and responsibility to coordinate, oversee, and make management decisions regarding major scientific activities throughout the agency, including the work of all program, regional, and ORD laboratories;
- Improve physical infrastructure and real property planning and investment decisions by managing individual laboratory facilities as part of an interrelated portfolio of facilities; and,
- Develop a comprehensive workforce planning process for all laboratories that is based on reliable workforce data and reflects current and future agency needs in overall number of federal and contract employees, skills, and deployment across all laboratory facilities.
The report, “Environmental Protection Agency: To Better Fulfill Its Mission, EPA Needs a More Coordinated Approach to Managing Its Laboratories” (GAO-11-347, July 25, 2011), may be read at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11347.pdf.
A one-page highlights document may be viewed at: http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11347high.pdf
Robert Rains handle public policy-related energy issues for ASME. He can be reached at: email@example.com
NGA POLICY ACADEMY TO HELP STATES DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT STRATEGIES TO GROW ADVANCED MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to states to participate in a policy academy on “Making Our Future: Encouraging Growth Opportunities in Manufacturing through Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment.”
The policy academy is designed to assist states in developing and implementing economic development strategies aimed at spurring innovation and entrepreneurship in ways that encourage the growth of advanced manufacturing industries. Funding for the academy is provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.
The policy academy will link selected states to relevant information, peer states, and vital technical assistance from NGA staff and other national experts to help define and address individual challenges and opportunities to build new manufacturing strengths and encourage new growth opportunities in state economies.
As part of the application process, states are expected to identify a core team of five to eight members who represent a cross-section of policymakers from relevant state agencies and stakeholder groups (e.g., governor’s economic policy advisor, commerce director, executive director of the state technology investment organization, director of the state manufacturing extension center, business leader, among others). At least seven states will be selected to participate.
The academy will begin in October 2011 and conclude in July 2012. Applications must be submitted to the NGA Center through the governor’s office by September 15, 2011 in order to be considered. RFPs are being sent directly to each governor’s office.
Once the selection of participating states has been made, additional information on the Policy Academy will be available at: http://www.nist.gov/mep/nga-policyacademy.cfm.
Paul Fakes handles public policy-related manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SURVEY OF BALDRIGE EXAMINERS REVEALS CURRENT PERCEPTIONS OF PERFORMANCE
Management and non-management personnel across a broad cross-section of U.S. organizations see eye-to-eye on mission, customer focus, and commitment to success, but differ significantly in their views on how to best measure quality of work and customer satisfaction. These are a few of the findings from a recent survey of nearly 500 members of the 2011 Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Baldrige examiners are experts from industry, educational institutions, health care providers, government at all levels, and non-profit organizations who volunteer many hours reviewing applications for the award, conducting site visits, and providing each applicant with an extensive feedback report citing strengths and opportunities to improve. The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program asked this year’s examiners to assess their own organizations using either the program’s “Are We Making Progress?” or “Are We Making Progress as Leaders?” questionnaires, depending on whether or not the examiners worked in management. The survey instruments are based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, and allow an organization to gauge its progress in achieving high performance and define where improvements are needed to reach that goal.
The questionnaires ask employee respondents to gauge their level of agreement with statements related to the Baldrige criteria, such as, “I know who my most important customers are.” Managers are quizzed on their perceptions of their organizations (“Our employees know who their most important customers are.”). The 173 employees and 294 leaders taking the surveys were in strong and positive agreement, regardless of institution, on a number of factors. These included: understanding of the organization’s mission; clear identification of most important customers; and strong commitment to success. Both groups also matched up on areas where they perceived that the organization was not performing well, such as actively seeking input for long-range planning, using good processes to perform tasks, and removing obstacles in the way of progress.
Perhaps most interesting were the areas where employees and leaders differed significantly in their perceptions. These included:
- Knowing how to measure work quality (78 percent of employees felt they had such knowledge while only 51 percent of leaders agreed that they did);
- Using work quality measures to make improvements (74 percent of employees said that they did while only 43 percent of leaders recognized that ability); and;
- Feeling that customers were satisfied with work performed (85 percent of employees felt their work achieved this status while just 69 percent of leaders agreed).
The one statement with a large response discrepancy where the leaders agreed more than the employees—84 percent to 69 percent—was “My boss and my organization care about me.”
To review the complete results of the employee responses to the 2011 Examiners Survey, please visit: www.nist.gov/baldrige/publications/progress.cfm
The Organizational Leader survey responses are also available at: www.nist.gov/baldrige/publications/progress_leaders.cfm
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