February 23, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


By now, everyone has heard of Bitcoin and the millions that early adopters have been making off of it. But what’s less well known is how it works. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is here to help rectify that. NIST recently released its draft report on Blockchain Technology, an overview that “strives to help businesses make good decisions about when and if to use blockchain.” The report defines blockchain technology and its relations to Bitcoin and other digital currencies that have made waves recently for the gains that can be made.  It also delves into ways blockchain technology can be used to solve technological issues and determine when it’s an appropriate solution.  Comments and feedback on the report are being accepted until February 23.

Blockchain technology was developed in 2008 specifically for use with Bitcoin. It allows transactional information to be recorded and stored on many computers at once. Once a group of records, or “blocks” are stored together, they are linked to other blocks. This forms a record, or “chain.” Once these blocks have been linked, the information in each individual block cannot be altered without affecting all blocks in the chain. This lack of malleability means blockchain technology is considered a highly secure way to store sensitive information. Changes can’t be made to a record without other record keepers in the network noticing. This consequently eliminates the need for a designated centralized record keeper, which always carries its own set of risks.

To read the draft NISTIR 8202 report and submit comments, click here: https://csrc.nist.gov/publications/detail/nistir/8202/draft


The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) recently released its Strategic Investment Plan for 2018. The plan outlines the Institute’s directional priorities for the coming year as well as longer-term strategy. In addition, DMDII developed an official mission statement, “Every Part Better than the Last,” to serve as the plan’s thesis.  The statement strives to combine past research with future technological innovations to encapsulate the Institute’s goal “to enable a manufacturing industry that is continually and automatically learning from every sequential part produced to make the very next part even better than the last.”

Since its inception in 2010, China has consistently been ranked as the most competitive country for manufacturing in Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report. This is thanks to factors such as the amount of money spent on R&D, the high number of STEM graduates, and leadership in High Performance Computing. But in a twist that contradicts other reports such as the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Index of 2018, the Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index forecasts the U.S. to overtake China as the most competitive country for manufacturing by 2020 thanks to factors such as “leadership in key advanced technologies such as predictive analytics, internet of things (IoT), smart products, smart factories, IT integration and advanced materials.” DMDII views this deviation from other reports as both a positive and a negative. The 2018 Strategic Plan states that while manufacturing has increasingly been outsourced to lower-labor markets, this may not have had as detrimental an effect on American manufacturing as initially feared per sources such as the Deloitte report.

Since DMDII’s creation in 2014, more than 60 projects spanning all technology areas have received funding. Looking ahead in 2018, the institute is narrowing the scope for three pilot programs in the Design, Future Factory and Supply Chain thrust areas. The Institute is also working with the Department of Defense to lock down funding for a new Cyber Security Hub for Manufacturing.

For further information on DMDII’s 2018 Strategic Plan, click here: http://www.uilabs.org/innovation-platforms/manufacturing/strategic-investment-plan/


Finding a “cure for cancer” has long been considered an aspiration just out of medicine’s reach. Small-scale cancer vaccination trials have yielded positive results, however scientists have run into complications when they’ve tried to scale up these vaccines for widespread production. But in a positive step forward, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) recently announced that it has developed technology that allows nanovaccines to bind to the albumin protein, which naturally carries the nanocomplexes from the vaccine to the lymph nodes, resulting in immunity from multiple types of tumors in mouse cancer models.

First writer and NBIB post-doctoral fellow Guizhi Zhu, Ph.D. explained “We designed a vaccine that binds to a protein called albumin normally found in the body that also regularly filters through the lymph nodes. Thus the vaccine essentially hitches a ride with albumin to travel to the lymph nodes, eliminating the need to create a separate delivery vehicle. Given that large-scale manufacturing and long-term safety are the primary hurdles of current nanovaccine technology, our approach offers a detour to accelerate eventual use of nanomedicines in the clinic.”

These vaccines, called AlbiVax, were tested against several different types of tumors in a variety of manners to comprehensively test the efficacy. In one test, seven tumor-free mice were given the AlbiVax injection, followed 70 days later by a large dose of tumor cells. Five of the seven mice survived more than four more months, at which point they received another dose of the AlbiVax injection. Four of the five mice lived more than six months following this. Blood tests taken four months following the second AlbiVax injection showed the mice had immune cells specifically killing thymus tumor cells at this time. This raises hope that this technology can eventually be applied to humans.

For further information on this new technology, click here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02191-y


Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to create a new office to “bolster” its energy and cyber security efforts. The new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) will contribute to DOE’s expanded national security portfolio, focusing on energy infrastructure security. The office has been granted $96 million in funding in the White House budget also released last week, and will be led by an Assistant Secretary who will report to the Under Secretary of Energy.

In a press release, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, “DOE plays a vital role in protecting our nation’s energy infrastructure from cyber threats, physical attack and natural disaster, and as Secretary, I have no higher priority. This new office best positions the Department to address the emerging threats of tomorrow while protecting the reliable flow of energy to Americans today.”  The DOE press release also explained that the creation of CESER will “elevate the Department’s focus on energy infrastructure protection and will enable more coordinated preparedness and response to natural and man-made threats.”

For further information, click here: https://www.energy.gov/articles/secretary-energy-rick-perry-forms-new-office-cybersecurity-energy-security-and-emergency


The MEP National Network recently released its National Networks Impacts Report for 2017. The MEP National Network works with small and medium manufacturers to ensure their business practices are in line with the current demand and help them succeed in today’s market. The network includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) and MEP Service Centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. A team of over 1300 experts and advisors can be found at one of the more than 400 centers for any questions or resources manufacturers may seek.

The 2017 National Networks Impact report touted a slew of notable achievements through interactions with over 26,300 manufacturers this past year. These interactions helped create or retain over 100,000 jobs, and generated $12.6 billion new and retained sales with $1.7 billion in cost savings.

For further information about the 2017 MEP National Networks Impacts Report, click here: https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2018/02/05/mep_public_onepager_2018_final_508.pdf


The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced up to $3 million in funding for 10 projects under its High Performance Computing for Manufacturing program (HPC4Mfg). The program falls under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’ Advanced Manufacturing Office, and receives additional support from the Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program within the DOE Office of Science, as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Argonne National Laboratory. Greater utilization of High Performance Computing is a main priority for DOE. China currently has the two fastest supercomputers in the world, but DOE is working on initiatives to rival these in the near future.

Projects will collaborate with national labs and use High Performance Computing (HPC) for modeling, simulation, and data analysis to address challenges facing the manufacturing industry. Successful project proposals will focus on making interactions between industry and labs more efficient, which will lead to positive outcomes such as expedited implementation of new technologies and more accurate performance prediction.

Project proposals are currently being solicited in two areas:

  • Those that use HPC to overcome manufacturing challenges that result in “reduced energy consumption and/or increased productivity.”
  • Those that actively look to find ways to “reduce energy consumption through improved clean energy technology design and clean energy manufacturing.”

Projects selected for funding can expect awards of up to $300,000, with multiple awards anticipated. The deadline for application submissions is March 15. Final project selections will be announced in July.

For further information on the solicitation, click here: https://hpc4mfg.llnl.gov/proposal-call.php

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
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

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.