April 8, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


Growing and sustaining an innovation ecosystem for cutting-edge advanced manufacturing technologies requires a concerted effort across government, industry, and academia. To foster a shared technological vision across the public and private sectors, the Obama Administration has released a report entitled “Advanced Manufacturing: A Snapshot of Priority Technology Areas Across the Federal Government.” This report details common priorities for research and development in advanced manufacturing technologies and initiatives to strengthen manufacturing education and workforce development. Among the shared-priorities identified in this new report are:

  • Advanced materials manufacturing: designer materials that are “born ready” for specific next-generation products, approaching atomic precision at kilogram scales;
  • Bio-manufacturing for regenerative medicine: repairing and replacing cells, tissues, and organs that might one day lead to 3D-printed organs; and,
  • Continuous manufacturing for pharmaceuticals: uninterrupted production enabling greater quality, yield, and flexibility toward personalized medicine.

The new report captures technology areas in advanced manufacturing that are current priorities for the federal government, and are strong candidates for focused federal investment and public-private collaboration. Recognizing these areas is a critical step toward identifying smart, strategic investments that build on revving the engines of American ingenuity and honing the skills of the world’s most productive workforce.

The report and the associated White House Fact Sheet can be found at: http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/white-house-new-report-on-2-billion-in-manufacturing-rd-investments/


Entries are now being accepted for the latest Future Engineers Challenge. The competition, which has a Star Trek-related theme this year, asks students to create a digital model of a non-edible, food-related item that astronauts would be able to 3D print and use in the year 2050.

The Star Trek Replicator Challenge is the third in a series of Future Engineers competitions, sponsored by the ASME Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which are intended to help teach K-12 students about 3D printing and engineering design. Since the Future Engineers program began in 2014, NASA has sent a 3D printer to the International Space Station and astronauts have subsequently successfully printed 21 plastic tools, containers, and test samples, including the winning designs from the first two Future Engineers Challenges.

The Star Trek Replicator Challenge was specifically designed to encourage students to think about future long-duration space missions beyond the International Space Station by asking students to design 3D printable objects that will help astronauts eat nutritious meals in the year 2050. Examples of possible designs include hardware needed to grow and harvest plants to hardware needed to prepare, eat, and dispose of food.

The winners of the Star Trek Replicator Challenge will receive educational prizes including a trip to New York for a tour of the Space Shuttle Enterprise with an astronaut and eight 3D printers, which will be donated to the winner’s schools. Star Trek is also supplying a prize pack, the contents of which will be disclosed at a later date.

The deadline for entries is May 1, 2016. Interested students can learn more about this year’s Future Engineers Challenge, or sign up to participate, at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/stem-workforce-development/


U.S. research and development (R&D) investment currently accounts for 2.7% of GDP, according to the newest R&D Funding Report put out by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). While the United States still invests the most dollars into R&D globally, there has been a huge uptick in investments among Asian countries. For example, China aims to invest 2.5% of its GDP in R&D by 2020 and is also expected to catch the U.S. in real dollars invested in R&D by 2020 as well.

In the Obama Administration’s Budget Request for FY 2017, there is a $6.2 billion increase for R&D from FY 2016 levels. However, most increases are included in non-defense mandatory spending, which would require new authorization and deficit off-set, and has been paid little attention to by Congress so far. When the Administration’s mandatory requests are taken out, the picture changes dramatically. NIST alone–which includes funding for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and the Hollings Manufacturing Partnership program (MEP)–would see a 2.7% decrease when mandatory spending is omitted. The only real increase seen in the President’s Budget with discretionary spending is with the National Science Foundation (NSF), specifically under the Engineering Directorate, which received a 1.3% increase in discretionary spending over FY 2016.

Looking ahead, the best indicator of what FY 2017 funding will actually be is the end-of-year 2015 Omnibus bill, which was one of the strongest pieces of R&D funding legislation in recent years and may be a strong predictor of this year’s funding levels.

To review the full AAAS FY 2017 R&D funding report and an overview slide presentation, please visit: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/  


The 54,070 research doctorate degrees awarded by U.S. institutions in 2014 represent the highest total ever recorded in the 58-year history of the Survey of Earned Doctorates, (SED) an annual census of research degree recipients. The report, published by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), supplies data and analysis for a vital U.S. economic interest: the American system of doctoral education.

The U.S. doctoral education system is widely considered to be among the world's best, attracting many top foreign students. Other nations, however, recognize the economic contributions of doctoral recipients, and are investing heavily in education. Without continued investment and improvement, the U.S. doctoral education system's preeminence is not guaranteed.

NCSES identified overall trends in the 2014 numbers including:

  • The number of science and engineering (S&E) degrees awarded continued a 40-year trend of outpacing non-S&E degrees. The number of non-S&E degrees awarded declined two percent from the previous year. In 1974, S&E degrees were 58 percent of the total awarded. In 2014, they were 75 percent.
  • The number of S&E doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders grew to 13,739 in 2014, up two percent compared to the previous year and up 45 percent since 2004.
  • The number of S&E doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2014 showed a comparable growth rate -- up two percent from the previous year and 42 percent since 2004.
  • In 2014, 10 countries accounted for 70 percent of the doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders. The top three, China, India and South Korea, accounted for more than half.
  • Women earned 46 percent of all doctorates in 2014, continuing a trend of women becoming increasingly prevalent in the annual total of recipients. The growth of women receiving S&E doctorates over the past two decades has significantly exceeded that of men. From 1994 to 2014, the number of women receiving S&E doctorates nearly doubled; the number for men increased by 26 percent.
  • The proportion of doctorates awarded to African Americans has risen from 4.1 percent to 6.4 percent between 1994 and 2014. Over the same period, the rate for Hispanics or Latinos rose by 3.3 percent to 6.5 percent.

For more information on the survey -- including the amount of education-related debt doctorate recipients incur, the kinds of employment they find, and how much they earn -- view the full report at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2016/nsf16300/start.cfm


NASA’s open innovation incubator, the International Space Apps Challenge, will take place April 22-24. The global main stage for this year’s event will be in Pasadena, California, with local events taking place simultaneously in 193 locations spanning 72 countries.

On April 23 and 24, participants are asked to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualizations and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

This year’s challenge will include a Data Bootcamp on April 22, streamed live from the global main stage. The bootcamp is open to the public and will give participants the opportunity to learn new skills with computer coding and data.

More than 200 sources, including data sets, services and tools, will be available to challenge participants, which include techy-savvy citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, families and students to help solve problems and questions relevant to space exploration and broader subjects that impact life on Earth.

This year, NASA is offering 26 challenges in six mission-related categories: Aeronautics; Earth; International Space Station; Journey to Mars; Solar System; and, Beyond, and Space Technology.

A more information about the Space Apps Challenge, and a full list of NASA challenges, go to http://spaceappschallenge.org

Follow the challenge on Twitter at https://twitter.com/spaceapps

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations