August 11, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


The public perception of manufacturing was the topic of a recent report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The report found that the majority of Americans surveyed view manufacturing as vital to maintaining economic prosperity. However, less than half find those jobs interesting or secure, and even fewer would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career, despite the fact that manufacturing companies are facing a critical need for workers with the requisite skills. For instance, it is estimated that the U.S. manufacturing industry will face a shortage of two million workers from 2015 to 2025.

This reports shows there is a clear gap between perception and reality when it comes to a career in manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs today require high-tech skills and provide job stability, good pay, benefits, and a clean and safe environment. The report recommends influencers such as parents and those familiar with the industry work to dispel concerns and help create a pipeline of new workers in the field. There are eight total recommendations included in the report, which underscore the need to invest in programs directed toward skill development and raising awareness of the benefits of a career in manufacturing.

To read the report, please visit:


The House Science, Space and Technology Committee chaired by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) recently held a full committee hearing entitled “Energy Innovation: Letting Technology Lead.”

Four witnesses from industry and universities were represented. One industry witness was Dr. Jacob DeWitte, President and CEO of Oklo, a Silicon Valley-based company that develops and builds a very small advanced reactor that produces 2 MW of electric power using metal fuel. These reactors can fit into a containerized system that can power a wide variety of markets. Dr. DeWitte said that the work of the Department of Energy and the national labs to characterize and qualify advanced reactor fuels has been and will continue to be quite valuable to advanced reactor commercialization efforts. However, some capabilities are deteriorating, or have been shut down, such as the premature closures of the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF), a liquid-metal (sodium)-cooled nuclear research and test reactor, and the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II), which has ended access to domestic fast neutron source. These factors have led to a slowing down of advanced reactor commercialization efforts.

Dr. Gaurav N. Sant, Associate Professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), testified that financial support secured from federal agencies including the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and, National Science Foundation has been instrumental in enabling their work. Their work has looked at novel approaches to mitigate CO2 emissions by upcycling or utilizing industrial wastes to create something new, e.g., new building materials that reduce negative environmental impacts of the flue gas.

Dr. Sant also testified that federal agencies are critical for enabling basic and applied research and development (R&D), technology creation and development. With federal R&D support, the creation of knowledge and technology – within universities, and national laboratories – will ensure U.S. intellectual leadership globally.

For more information about the hearing, including an archived webcast, please visit:


In response to Section 901 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328), the Department of Defense (DoD) released a report to Congress to establish an Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) (USD(R&E)), an Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment) (USD(A&S)), and a Chief Management Officer (CMO) within the Department of Defense (DoD), effective on February 1, 2018. Section 901 makes other modifying and conforming changes, and requires the Secretary of Defense to provide a series of reports to the congressional defense committees on the Department’s organizational and management structure.

The DoD reorganization provides an opportunity to improve operations and focus on agency goals of achieving technological superiority, developing affordable systems, and conducting well managed operations. Achieving these goals will require the development of advanced capabilities as a top strategic objective for the DoD. According to the report, the Department must be willing take risks on technology development. In parallel, the Department must increasingly leverage prototyping before weighing down the research and engineering phase with costly procurement decisions.

The report is now available at:,53BMK,E2AE8N,JIDSW,1


Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $19.4 million for 22 new cost-shared projects to accelerate the research of advanced battery, lightweight materials, engine technologies, and energy efficient mobility systems through the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). VTO funding will advance energy efficient transportation technologies and systems to improve the country’s energy security, save money on transportation energy costs, and strengthen the country’s economic competitiveness.

The projects selected involved innovative battery materials and approaches that complement the Vehicle Technologies Office Battery500 Consortium's research to more than double the specific energy (to 500 watt-hours per kilogram) of lithium battery technologies. Another set of projects will conduct research that evaluates energy savings benefits from connected and automated vehicles; use integrated computation materials engineering (ICME) techniques to develop low cost carbon fiber from a variety of feedstock; and develop novel emission control strategies for advanced combustion engines. 

More information on the selections and the full list of awardees can be found at:


Installing solar panels to cut energy costs is one way to take advantage of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to shift to alternative energy. For example, in one project, a small rural business was able to cut its energy costs by 90 percent by installing alternative energy. The USDA Rural Energy for America Program covered 25 percent of the cost of this installation (a total grant of $105,462), said Kathy Beisner, acting USDA Rural Development state director for Delaware and Maryland. This program is not among those targeted for cuts under the proposed Trump Administration budget, and up to 55 farms and businesses so far have participated.

Grants of $20,000 or less can be applied. Larger amounts are also available. These grants provide guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of gross income coming from agricultural operations, and small businesses in eligible rural areas are eligible to apply and to use the funds for renewable energy systems, such as:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
  • Hydropower below 30 megawatts
  • Hydrogen
  • Small and large wind generation
  • Small and large solar generation
  • Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation
  • Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements

For more information, go to:


In a Congressional Report to Congress released this year, Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) was the focus. Title IV supports financial assistance to students, so they can obtain education at postsecondary education institutions of higher education (IHEs). IHEs participating in Title IV federal student aid (FSA) programs must be accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education (ED) as a reliable authority on the quality of the education being offered.

There are three types of accrediting agencies: (1) regional accrediting agencies operate in six regions of the United States and concentrate their reviews on IHEs within specific regions of the country, (2) national accrediting agencies operate across the United States and review institutions with a common theme, i.e., engineering and technology, and (3) programmatic accrediting agencies operate nationwide and review programs and single-purpose institutions. The accreditation process is voluntary and must be requested by educational institutions/programs seeking accreditation.

The report recommends Congress focus on several issues related to accreditation as it considers HEA reauthorization, such as further development of institutional quality measures, the potential to restructure or streamline the accreditation system, accreditation’s role in the changing higher education landscape, and transparency and potential conflicts of interest in the accreditation process.

The full report is available at:

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at for daily news and policy developments, including the following:
In a First, Scientists Rid Human Embryos of a Potentially Fatal Gene Mutation by Editing Their DNA
Report: What States Are the Best for Data Innovation?
Nanotechnology for Developing Countries
Direct Current: An Podcast about the Scope of the Department of Energy and the 17 National Laboratories