June 19, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:

Mark your Calendars For Federal R&D Webinar

ASME Members are invited to join us the upcoming webinar entitled “Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Research and Development (R&D) Budget”. It will take place on June 24th at 12pm (EST).

This webinar will provide a deeper understanding of the FY16 R&D Budget, the budget priorities for the Administration and Congress and insights into the impact of federal investments on engineering research. The presenter for the webinar will be Matthew Hourihan, Director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This webinar is rescheduled from May 20th, when the webcast vendor had some technical difficulties.

Registration information is available on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at:

Presidential Week of Making Includes Capitol Hill and National Maker Faires, ASME Congressional Briefing

President Obama recently declared June 12-18, 2015 the “Week of Making.” The Week of Making commenced with the first-ever Capitol Hill Maker Faire on June 11 in the Rayburn Cafeteria. Sponsored by the Congressional Maker Caucus, the Faire featured over 20 makers from across the country. Some members of Congress attended, including House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Additional information about the Capitol Hill Maker Faire is available at: http://www.imls.gov/news/maker_faire.aspx

Caucus Co-Chair Mark Takano (D-CA) thanked ASME for assisting the Caucus and makers on the day of the event and. One of the makers, GRIT, also had an ASME connection, Dr. Amos Winter. Winter serves as GRIT’s Chief Scientific Advisor. GRIT is social enterprise startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that has developed the Leverage Freedom Chair. More information about GRIT can be found at: http://gogrit.us.

On June 12-13, the National Maker Faire was held at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). From the National Maker Faire web site, a maker faire is “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new.” It continues by saying “Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.”

During the National Maker Faire, there were several large plenaries held in the UDC auditorium. The first plenary, “Embracing the Breadth of Making,” was moderated by Dr. Monica Ramirez Basco of the White House Office of Science and Technology. ASME Engineering for Global Development Committee member Dr. Nathan Johnson of Arizona State University served as one of the panelists and discussed his development work related to sustainable rural electrification, as well as leading ASU’s Energy Systems Design Environment. For more information about Dr. Johnson’s work, please visit: https://webapp4.asu.edu/directory/person/2183493  

Also, on June 12, the Obama Administration announced several outside commitments related to making. Included in the list was the launch of a newly expanded version of Engineering for Change (E4C) by ASME and IEEE. E4C is a global community of over 24,000 organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting affordable, sustainable and accessible technology-based solutions for underserved communities worldwide. This new version will launch in late summer of 2015 with a Solutions Library of innovations focused on poverty-alleviation. Noha El-Ghobashy, Managing Director for Engineering Workforce and Global Development, attended the event on behalf of ASME and Engineering for Change, LLC.

Finally, on June 15, ASME, SAE International, and the Council on Undergraduate Research held a Congressional briefing, with the support of the Congressional Maker Caucus and the House STEM Education Caucus, entitled, “Making a Maker”. Moderated by ASME Board on Government Relations Committee member Tommy Gardner, the panelists included: Christopher Ciuca, Director of Pre-Professional Education, SAE International; Neal Orringer, Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships, 3D Systems; Dr. Nathalia Peixoto, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, George Mason University (representing the Council on Undergraduate Research), and Dr. Timothy Simpson, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Director of the Learning Center, Pennsylvania State University.

Ciuca stressed the importance of K-12 and undergraduate students tinkering, and participating in hands-on competition, like SAE Formula One, to get them excited and interested in STEM. Orringer agreed, but also discussed the importance of training for complex items like 3D printers. 3D Systems includes a training component with every 3D printer they donates to a school or library. This helps ensure the printers are used properly, and that students have access. Dr. Peixoto echoed the need for hands-on problem solving. She encourages all of her students to think of problems they can solve to improve their lives through engineering. Finally, while Dr. Simpson agreed that activities like 3D printing interest students and keep them in STEM, he reminded the audience not everything should be 3D printed due to cost or other factors.

For more information about the ASME-related activities that took place during the Week of Making, please visit the ASME_FutureME twitter page.

Subcommittees Examine Effects of EPA Ozone Regulation on Jobs and Manufacturing

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a joint hearing entitled “EPA’s Proposed Ozone Rule: Potential Impacts on Manufacturing.” Members examined the potential consequences of a revision to EPA’s current National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone on the manufacturing sector. The EPA has proposed to revise the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb), which states are only just beginning to implement, to a level between 65-70 ppb – a change which would have impacts across the economy.

EPA estimates that annual costs to implement the ozone rule (excluding California) would be $3.9 billion to $15 billion for a standard in the range of 65 to 70 ppb, and $39 billion for a 60 ppb standard, in 2025. In making its cost estimates, the agency projects that significant “unknown controls” would be needed to meet a 65 ppb as well as a 70 ppb standard. Private sector analysis of EPA’s proposed rule has concluded the costs could be significantly higher than those estimated by the agency, and that the rule could be the single most expensive regulation in the EPA’s history. This analysis can be found at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/environment/ under “Issue Reports”.

The hearing addressed the following issues relating to EPA’s proposed rule:

  • Potential impacts on U.S. manufacturing sector;
  • Potential impacts on jobs and economic growth;
  • Restrictions on new construction and expansions; and,
  • Costs to households and consumers.

Background information on the hearing, as well as the list of witnesses and their prepared statements, may be viewed at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/epa%E2%80%99s-proposed-ozone-rule-potential-impacts-manufacturing

Administration Announces Scale up Investments in Clean Energy Innovation

The White House hosted a Clean Energy Investment Summit where Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks highlighting more than $4 billion of independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and other long-term investors to fund climate change solutions, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution. In addition to Vice President Biden's remarks, the Summit featured senior administration officials from the White House, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense, and thought leaders from the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, the Wallace Global Fund, and Wells Fargo among others.

Additionally, the White House announced a series of executive actions to encourage private-sector investments in clean energy innovation, including:

  • Launching a new Clean Energy Impact Investment Center at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to make information about energy and climate programs at DOE and other government agencies accessible and more understandable to the public, including to mission-driven investors;
  • Facilitating investments by charitable foundations in clean energy technologies, through new Treasury Department guidance on impact investing; and,
  • Improving financing options from the U.S. Small Business Administration for private investment funds seeking long-term capital, including early-stage investors in capital-intensive clean energy technologies.

Detailed information on specific commitments to the clean energy innovation project is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/16/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-more-4-billion-private-sector

Energy Department Invests $60 Million to Advance Nuclear Technology

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $60 million in nuclear energy research and infrastructure enhancement awards. Sixty-eight projects from across the country were selected based on their potential to create scientific breakthroughs that both help strengthen the nation’s energy security and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the announcement, DOE is awarding over $31 million to 43 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects across 23 states to develop innovative technologies and solutions through its Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP). Approximately $3.5 million will also be awarded to nine universities for research reactor and infrastructure improvements – providing important safety, performance, and student education related upgrades to many of the nation’s 25 university research reactors to enhance university research and training infrastructure.

DOE is also awarding $13 million for four Integrated Research Projects that will deliver solutions to high priority nuclear energy research challenges, the development of accident tolerant fuel options for near term applications, benchmarking for transient fuel testing, and approaches to dry cask inspection and nondestructive evaluation. Additionally, $8.5 million will be awarded for 10 research and development projects in support of the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Crosscutting Technoprojectslogy Development Program to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges.

Additional information about each of these projects can be found at: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/ under “Regulations and Announcements”.

NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released data showing how temperature and rainfall patterns worldwide may change through the year 2100 because of growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.

The dataset, which is available to the public, shows projected changes worldwide on a regional level in response to different scenarios of increasing carbon dioxide simulated by 21 climate models. The high-resolution data, which can be viewed on a daily timescale at the scale of individual cities and towns, will help scientists and planners conduct climate risk assessments to better understand local and global effects of hazards, such as severe drought, floods, heat waves and losses in agriculture productivity.

The NASA climate projections provide a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provides daily estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe.

The new dataset is the latest product from the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX), a big-data research platform within the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Center. NEX is a collaboration and analytical platform that combines supercomputing, Earth system modeling, workflow management and NASA remote-sensing data. Through NEX, users can explore and analyze large Earth science data sets, run and share modeling algorithms and workflows, collaborate on new or existing projects and exchange workflows and results within and among other science communities.

Additional information about the new NASA climate projection dataset is available at

The dataset is available for download at https://cds.nccs.nasa.gov/nex-gddp/

New Initiative Targets Emerging Models of Technological Innovation

Technological innovation--as essential as ever for economic growth--now occurs in a rapidly changing global and local context. To identify the emerging models of technological innovation that will propel U.S. competitiveness in the coming decades, the Council on Competitiveness is beginning the Exploring Innovation Frontiers Initiative (EIFI) with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The first event, hosted by Georgia Tech,  joined leaders of academia, business, nonprofits and government from the southeastern United States to kick off the two-year initiative in Atlanta, GA.

The U.S. and the world face enormous challenges: to increase the economic growth rate; to provide food, water, energy and other natural resources to rising populations; to protect against cyber and other unconventional threats; and, to provide high-quality and cost-effective health care to diverse communities. The need for transformative high-impact innovations has never been greater.

In addition to exploring models of innovation, attendees discussed tapping into the nation's innovation capacity, nurturing new talent and ideas, translating innovation into widespread prosperity, and growing national and regional economies.

Additional EIFI events are planned in cities around the country; the next will be hosted by the University of California, Riverside, on November 23, 2015.

For more information on EIFI, visit: http://www.compete.org/initiatives/compete-innovation/2940-exploring-innovation-frontiers-initiative


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.

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