August 17, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


President Trump recently signed into law the bipartisan reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. During the next few months, the Department of Education will release guidance for states on how to draft their transition and four-year plans, as required by the law, which will go into effect July 1, 2019.

Following his signing of the bill, President Trump released a statement in which he noted, “The White House, led by Ivanka Trump, was strongly engaged every step of the way to ensure passage of this critical legislation to provide students and workers the training necessary to succeed in a 21st century economy.  By enacting it into law, we will continue to prepare students for today’s constantly shifting job market, and we will help employers find the workers they need to compete.”

ASME Capitol Update has followed the path of this legislation, noting back in May that despite the uncontroversial nature of the bill, it appeared to have stalled in Congress after being unanimously approved by the House in 2018. However, last month the Senate voted to pass the legislation to applause from many in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education community. A further indication of the support for this legislation on Capitol Hill was the House Appropriations Committee’s FY19  Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) bill in which it gave the Department of Education a $115 million increase for career, technical, and adult education programs. This bump brought funding for career and technical education programs (CTE) up to $1.9 billion for FY19.

To view the bill in its entirety, click here:

To view Capitol Update’s previous reporting on the status of the CTE bill, click here: 


The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it has awarded $36.4 million in funding to 37 research projects to advance the practical usage of fusion energy science as a potential energy source. The awards are sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Science (FES), which falls under the DOE Office of Science. Among the awardees are researchers from the private sector, four of the DOE National Labs—Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Princeton Plasma Physics, and Oak Ridge—and 12 different universities.

The projects all advance the goals of the FES, which are:

  • Advance the fundamental science of magnetically confined plasmas to develop the predictive capability needed for a sustainable fusion energy source;
  • Support the development of the scientific understanding required to design and deploy the materials needed to support a burning plasma environment;
  • Pursue scientific opportunities and grand challenges in high energy density plasma science to better understand our universe, and to enhance national security and economic competitiveness;
  • Increase the fundamental understanding of basic plasma science, including both burning plasma and low temperature plasma science and engineering, to enhance economic competiveness and to create opportunities for a broader range of science-based applications.

The projects were selected by peer review and are expected to last up to four years. For more information on the FES, and for a full list of project awardees, click here:


Over the last century, the electric grid has grown to accommodate the increasing population. The grid is currently divided into three separate, synchronized grids: the Eastern and Western interconnections, and the Texas section. A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) argues that this system of three separate grids is no longer the best way forward. The NREL Seam Study, recently released at the Trans-GridX Symposium in Ames, IA, contends that connecting all three grids into one single network would allow for cheaper, cleaner energy delivery.

With extreme weather becoming more commonplace, Aaron Bloom, group manager of NREL’s Grid Systems Analysis Group, lead presenter of the lab study at the symposium explains that a more interconnected grid could mitigate the effects this weather would have on the grid. Solar power collected from the Southwest, and wind power collected from the Great Plains could be sent to customers elsewhere around the country in need of power. “We can do thousand-mile lines with a massive amount of controllability,” Bloom said. “The term I’m using for it is the idea of a transmission renaissance. What if we build transmission in the U.S. as China is doing now?”

The NREL Seam Study provides several different scenarios taking into account different factors such as different construction scenarios, rising prices on various types of energy and energy storage, and regulatory and policy changes.

For further information about the NREL’s Interconnections Seam Study, click here:


Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), a Detroit-based Manufacturing USA Institute, recently announced that it will be hosting a monthly free webinar series titled “Bringing Mind to Market.” The series will showcase how the institute and its partners are working to ensure the American advanced manufacturing workforce has the tools and know-how to succeed in today’s increasingly technology-driven workplace.

The series will take place on the first Tuesday of each month at 1pm and will feature a mix of education and workforce development experts as they discuss ways to encourage students to pursue advanced manufacturing career paths, as well as how to keep more experienced workers in the field. The webinar comes to fruition amongst an overall challenge many employers in the field are finding that students are graduating ill-equipped to join the workforce.

“The education and workforce development initiatives underway at LIFT are having an impact locally and across the country,” said Emily DeRocco, education and workforce development director, LIFT. “From the outset, they have been designed to be replicable and scalable to be used anywhere across the country. We are excited about the opportunity to share the work we are doing and help others to use the tools we have already developed to support and grow the U.S. manufacturing base.”

The next webinar will take place Tuesday, September 11, and is titled “Ignite— Mastering Manufacturing.” The webinar series runs through the first Tuesday in December.

To register for a webinar in the series, click here:


The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) recently announced that it will be convening a panel of science and medical experts from academia, industry and government to host a workshop on Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging on August 23. The event is cosponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Aging, and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, all part of the National Institutes of Health; the American College of Radiology (ACR), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research. The event will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • The state-of-the-art of AI applications for medical imaging.
  • Hurdles to quality, reproducibility, and reliability of AI in medical imaging for clinical use. 
  • How AI can improve the value of medical imaging and healthcare overall.

This workshop comes following NIBIB’s announcement earlier this year of the development of a new type of medical imaging technology using artificial intelligence, called AUTOMAP. AUTOMAP imaging produces higher-quality images from less information, thereby cutting down on the amount of radiation from CT and PET scans, and reducing the duration of an MRI scan.

“This technology could become a game changer, as mainstream approaches to improving the signal-to-noise ratio rely heavily on expensive MRI hardware or on prolonged scan times,” said Shumin Wang, Ph.D., director of the NIBIB program in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. “It may also be advantageous for other significant MRI applications that have been plagued by low signal-to-noise ratio for decades, such as multi-nuclear spectroscopy.”

To register for the August 23 workshop, click here:

To watch a videocast of the webinar, click here:


A new midterm assessment recently released by the National Academies reports that NASA has met or exceeded expectations on funding research and analysis, and technology program recommendations as set forth in the decadal survey “Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022.” The survey, published by the National Research Council, provides a framework of priorities for planetary science research. These recommendations include both large-scale missions, such the Uranus Orbiter and Probe mission to learn more about the planet’s atmosphere and composition, and two smaller scale missions to explore the solar system using medium-sized spacecraft.

Additional recommendations in the report include:

  • Continue to closely monitor the cost and schedule associated with the Europa Clipper to ensure that it remains executable within the approved life-cycle cost range.
  • Continue planning and begin implementation of NASA’s proposed “focused and rapid” architecture for returning samples from the Mars 2020 mission so as to achieve the highest priority decadal flagship-level science.
  • Reevaluate the Mars Exploration Program, which currently has only the Mars 2020 rover in its future missions queue.
  • Continue investment in development of mission-enabling technologies at 6 percent to 8 percent of the Planetary Science Division’s budget.
  • Link education and outreach activities directly to the missions that are providing the science content for those programs, working directly with mission scientists and engineers to ensure a strong connection to NASA’s mission results.

The midterm report applauds the original survey, citing the influence the report has had on developments in planetary science since its inception. “NASA has made a strong investment in technology that has exceeded the Vision and Voyages recommended levels,” said committee co-chair Joe Rothenberg, former NASA associate administrator for space flight, Goddard Center director, and co-chair of the committee that conducted the new study and wrote the report. “This investment has not only enabled science missions in this decade, but is providing for the long-term technology development needed for missions in the next decade, including the Mars sample return program and the exploration of planetary bodies with extreme environments.”

However, the midterm report does note that there is still progress to be made to ensure the success of all the recommendations. The agency must undertake at least one more New Frontiers mission and three more Discovery missions to remain compliant with the schedule outline in the original Vision and Voyages report.

To view the original Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 report, click here:

To view the midterm report, click here:

The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036


Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.