June 26, 2015
Capitol Update

Editor's Note: Please note that Capitol Update will not be issued on July 3rd due to the holiday. Publication will resume on July 10, 2015. Best wishes for an enjoyable 4th of July!

In this issue:

Register for ASME'S July 25th Public Policy Webinar on "Advanced Manufacturing Initiatives for America's Future!"

ASME Members – and non members - are invited to join ASME Government Relations for a webinar scheduled for Wednesday, July 15th from 12:00 noon-1:00pm (EST) featuring Dr. Gloria Wiens, the Assistant Director for Research Partnerships at the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office and a current ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow. 

Manufacturing is a matter of fundamental importance to the economic strength and national security of the United States. More than any other industry, a globally competitive manufacturing sector translates inventions, research discoveries, and new ideas into better or novel products or processes. This webinar will provide a briefing on the game-changing federal government initiatives, public-private partnerships and opportunities in advanced manufacturing, with a focus on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership recommendations detailed in their report on Accelerating U.S. Advanced Manufacturing. 

Gloria Wiens, Ph.D., has been serving as an ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow since September 2013.  Dr. Wiens is an associate professor and the director of the Space, Automation, and Manufacturing Mechanisms (SAMM) Laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her research interests include robotics; spatial mechanisms; system dynamics and controls with applications in space; reconfigurable micro/small satellite deployable systems; automation; MEMS/biomedical devices; and micro/mesoscale manipulation and manufacturing. Her teaching focuses on dynamics and controls of robotic systems; kinematics and dynamics of machinery; and vibrations and controls.

Information about the webinar is available on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/

The online registration is available at is: https://engage.vevent.com/rt/asme~advancedmanufacturingpartnership

Members who were unable to participate in the June 24th webinar on the “Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Research and Development Budget” can view the webinar at https://engage.vevent.com/rt/asme~fed_research.

Committee Advances FY 2016 Commerce, Justice & Science Appropriations Bill

The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, a far-reaching $51 billion measure that affects everything from local law enforcement to job creation to the study of the cosmos. The committee-approved measure also offers strong support for science and innovation by maintaining healthy funding levels for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and by promoting a balanced and productive space program through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The FY 2016 CJS Appropriations Bill, which is now available for consideration by the full Senate, provides funding for the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NSA) NSF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other related agencies.  It was approved by a bipartisan vote of 27-3.

Highlights of the Senate FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill include:

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – The bill provides $893 million for NIST, $29 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  The funding will strengthen the U.S. cybersecurity posture through cutting-edge research and development, expand opportunities in the areas of advanced manufacturing, and continue promotion of the highest quality standards to maintain fairness in the marketplace. 
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – The bill funds NASA at $18.3 billion, a $279 million increase over FY2015.  This includes:
    • $1.9 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $200 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $544 million above the request.  The funding maintains the current schedule for the first launch of SLS, and also provides critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions.
    • $1.2 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, the same as the FY2015 enacted level and $104 million above the request.  Orion is NASA’s crewed vehicle that would be used on missions to Mars.
    • $5.3 billion for Science, $50 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $6.4 million above the request.  This funding encompasses missions from the Earth, to the Moon, throughout the Solar system, and the far reaches of the universe.
    • $600 million for Space Technology, $4 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  Funding is included to advance projects that are early in development that will eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) – The bill funds the NSF at $7.3 billion, maintaining the FY2015 enacted level.  Funding is provided for basic research across all scientific disciplines and to support the development of effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs and grow the next generation of scientists.

For additional information, visit http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/committee-advances-fy2016-commerce-justice-science-appropriations-bill

Hearing on DOE Oversight of Energy Innovation Hubs

The House Science Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing titled Department of Energy Oversight: Energy Innovation Hubs. The purpose of this subcommittee hearing was to review the Department of Energy’s (DOE) four Energy Innovation Hubs and evaluate their impact on existing programs in the Office of Science and the DOE applied energy programs.

The DOE Energy Innovation Hubs were established in 2010 and are integrated research centers that combine basic and applied research with engineering to accelerate scientific discovery and technology development in key energy fields. The hubs currently explore technology areas relating to new ways of tapping solar energy, improving nuclear technologies, and research into novel energy storage and critical materials issues. 

The witnesses were the directors of each of the four Hubs.  Each witness took the opportunity to highlight the achievements that their Hub has made in each field and spoke to their experiences working with the private sector.  Dr. Harry Atwater, Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) stated that “There is currently no existing solar fuels industry sector, which is due in part to the basic science challenges that need to be addressed before a solar fuels industry can develop. In fact, this is why a Hub-scale effort is critically needed -to accelerate progress more rapidly in this area- than would be possible via other Department of Energy programs.”  Other directors spoke of the important ties between industry and the Hubs, in some cases allowing the Hubs to determine their research directives based upon industry input.

Additional information the hearing is available at: http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-energy-hearing-department-energy-oversight-energy-innovation-hubs

A Call for Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking suggestions for Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade. A Grand Challenge is an ambitious but achievable goal that requires advances in science and technology to achieve and that has the potential to capture the public’s imagination.

Under the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), scientists, engineers, and educators are building a future in which the ability to understand and control matter at the nanoscale leads to a revolution in technology and industry. The collective effort of this community to achieve the vision of the NNI has greatly accelerated the discovery, development, and deployment of nanotechnology to address broad national needs.

In a recent review of the NNI, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology called for government agencies, industry, and the research community to identify and pursue nanotechnology Grand Challenges. Through the recently issued RFI, OSTP want to hear the public’s game-changing ideas for Grand Challenges that harness nanoscience and nanotechnology to solve important national or global problems. These Grand Challenges should stimulate additional public and private investment, and foster the commercialization of Federally-funded nanotechnology research.

Responses must be received by July 16, 2015.

Read the full announcement at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/ under “Regulations and Announcements”.

NSF Awards $12 Million to Spur an Engineering Education Revolution

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and Education and Human Resources have jointly awarded $12 million to engineering and computer science departments to enact groundbreaking, scalable and sustainable changes in undergraduate education.
These five-year, $2 million awards are part of NSF's multiyear effort to help universities substantially improve the professional formation of engineers and computer scientists--the formal and informal processes and value systems by which people become experts in these fields. A key component is support for revolutionizing engineering departments, an NSF activity known as RED.
The RED projects will build upon successful innovations in the introductory and capstone years to improve the entire undergraduate experience, including technical core courses during sophomore and junior years, extracurricular professional activities and student transfer from two- to four-year institutions. The awards also may support faculty development, faculty incentives and inclusive academic cultures.

A list of the 2015 awardees is available at http://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=135379&org=NSF&from=news

ARPA-E Funds New Power Plant Cooling Research

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently won a $3 million award from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) program. The program is designed to develop a novel dry cooling technology for thermoelectric power plants, which has the potential to significantly reduce fan power consumption and steam condensation temperatures compared to current dry cooling systems and produce a more cost-effective option for reducing water use at thermoelectric plants.

EPRI is teaming with Drexel University, University of Memphis, Evapco, WorleyParsons, Maulbetsch Consulting, and its utility advisors to develop, manufacture, and demonstrate a cost-effective, 50 kW indirect dry cooling system that would use advanced phase change materials to improve heat transfer. The proposed design is anticipated to be compact, optimized for various geographic and weather conditions and would have the potential for integration into existing power plants.

The EPRI project is one of 14 totaling $30 million to support development of transformative new power plant cooling technologies that can cost-effectively and efficiently reject waste heat with minimal water evaporation. ARPA-E project teams will work to design kilowatt-scale testing prototypes to help ensure the technologies can be scaled up to megawatt-cooling capacity without significant performance loss.

For additional information on ARPA-E’s ARID program, visit: https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/#FoaIdfba1c006-c1b0-4f5d-8522-3f814a217edd

ASME Joins 253 Groups in Call to Action for American "Innovation Imperative"

ASME joined with hundreds of engineering, scientific and technological organizations and universities, as well as leaders of American business, industry, higher education, science, and engineering in an urgent call to action for stronger federal policies and investment to drive domestic research and development. Ten CEOs and 253 organizations signed “Innovation: An American Imperative,” underscoring the findings, and warning contained in The American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream (https://www.amacad.org/content/Research/researchproject.aspx?d=1276).

According to Restoring the Foundation, “There is a deficit between what America is investing and what it should be investing to remain competitive, not only in research but in innovation and job creation.” The United States is failing to keep pace with competitor nations with regard to investments in basic research and development. America’s ascendency in the 20th century was due in large part—if not primarily—to its investments in science and engineering research.  Basic research is behind every new product brought to market, every new medical device or drug, every new defense and space technology and many innovative business practices.

Over the last two decades, a steady decline in investment in research & development (R&D) in the United States has allowed our nation to fall to 10th place in R&D investment among Organization for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) nations as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

These developments led a diverse coalition of those concerned with the future of research in America to join together in presenting the Innovation Imperative to federal policy makers and urging them to take action to:

  • End sequestration’s deep cuts to federal investments in R&D;
  • Make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit;
  • Improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM);
  • Reform U.S. visa policy;
  • Streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations;
  • Reaffirm merit-based peer review; and,
  • Stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing.

The proclamation is available on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/ under “Position Statements”.


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