November 16, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:

Editor's Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, Capitol Update will not be published on November 24th. The next edition will be published on December 1st. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Since 1973, ASME has sponsored over 100 Federal Fellows providing them with an opportunity to serve a one-year term in the Administration or U.S. Congress. Fellows serve as independent, non-biased advisors in engineering, science and technology, bringing a nonpartisan, pragmatic approach to analysis and input which has a profound impact on the decision making process. The result is effective and technologically appropriate public policy based on sound engineering principles.

Applications for our “2019-2020 ASME Congressional Fellowships” are now being accepted until January 31, 2019.  Applicants for these Fellowships must have a strong background in energy, bioengineering and/or advanced manufacturing. 

General information about the ASME Federal Government Fellowship Program is available at

To apply, please visit:


The most recent midterm congressional elections saw the appointment of more candidates with science backgrounds than ever before. At the federal level, there were more than two dozen candidates with science backgrounds who ran for office. Of those, at least seven won their bid for a seat in the House of Representatives.

The incoming freshman congressional class sees a range of scientific disciplines represented. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6) has a degree in industrial engineering and will represent areas north and west of Philadelphia. In Chicago, newly-elected Rep. Sean Casten has a strong background in biochemistry. In South Carolina, ocean engineer Joe Cunningham took a strong stance against offshore drilling and was victorious. In Virginia, nuclear engineer Elaine Luria, defeated the Republican incumbent, Scott Taylor.

There were also several incumbent scientists that won their midterm race. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) head of the House R&D caucus was among the victors on election night. Rep. Foster is a former high-energy physicist with a PhD. Rep Jerry McNerney (D-CA) has a PhD in mathematics and also a professional background as an engineer.

At the gubernatorial level, many of the successful candidates had clean energy as a key component of their campaign. Both governor-elects Tim Walz (D-MN) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) promised to transition their states’ energy power to be sourced 50% from renewable energy sources within the next 12 years. In California, governor-elect Gavin Newsom (D-CA) praised predecessor Gov. Jerry Brown for his steadfast commitment to clean energy. Earlier this year Capitol Update reported that Gov. Brown signed a law promising California would be carbon-free by 2045. Governor-elects from six other states-- Jared Polis (D-CO), J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Janet Mills (D-ME), Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), Kate Brown (D-OR), and Tony Evers (D-WI)—all promised to transition their states to 100 percent clean energy over the next thirty years.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a new policy that will deviate from how the agency has determined whether power plants and similar facilities need to undergo the New Source Review process. The New Source Review process is a review and analysis of the scope and volume of pollutants these facilities emit, and is meant to curtail air pollution. This new policy is among a series of actions the agency has taken since the start of the new administration to cut down on the number of projects and facilities that undergo New Source Review, as part of a greater administration-wide attempt to cut down on regulatory barriers for businesses.

“Previously, New Source Review regularly discouraged companies from employing the latest energy-efficient equipment,” acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “Our updates will remove undue regulatory barriers, provide greater certainty to America’s job creators and energy providers, and incentivize upgrades that will improve air quality.”

The policy itself is actually nothing new. It was first put forward in 2009, by the George W. Bush administration. However, the Obama administration suspended the policy following outcry from many environmental groups citing that the policy would allow for too much pollution.

To view the policy in full:


The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it is building a next-generation, pre-exascale supercomputer. The computer will be located at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, and will be named “Perlmutter” after Berkeley Lab’s Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter. The Perlmutter computer is the first of its kind designed to meet the needs of large-scale simulations as well as data analysis from experimental and observational facilities

As the DOE explained in a recent statement regarding the computer, the Perlmutter is a heterogeneous system comprising both CPU-only and GPU-accelerated cabinets. It will include a number of innovations designed to meet the diverse computational and data analysis needs of NERSC’s user base and speed their scientific productivity. These include a new Cray system interconnect that is designed for data-centric computing,  NVIDIA GPUs with new Tensor Core technology, direct liquid cooling, and an all-flash scratch filesystem which will move data at a rate of more than 4 terabytes/sec.

The NERSC, located at the Berkely Lab is the mission high performance computing facility for the DOE Office of Science. It supports more than 7,000 scientists and 600 projects annually.

For more information about the NERSC, click here:  


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced that thanks to a $315million grant, it will be establishing a new school of computing with strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI). The MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing will cost a total $1billion, making it the single largest investment in computing and AI by an American academic institution. The school will serve as a hub for computer science, AI, data science, and related fields and strive to do the following:

  • reorient MIT to bring the power of computing and AI to all fields of study at MIT, allowing the future of computing and AI to be shaped by insights from all other disciplines;
  • create 50 new faculty positions that will be located both within the College and jointly with other departments across MIT — nearly doubling MIT’s academic capability in computing and AI;
  • give MIT’s five schools a shared structure for collaborative education, research, and innovation in computing and AI;
  • educate students in every discipline to responsibly use and develop AI and computing technologies to help make a better world; and
  • transform education and research in public policy and ethical considerations relevant to computing and AI.

“As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to help make sure it does so for the good of all,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “...The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will constitute both a global center for computing research and education, and an intellectual foundry for powerful new AI tools. Just as important, the College will equip students and researchers in any discipline to use computing and AI to advance their disciplines and vice-versa, as well as to think critically about the human impact of their work.”


The White House recently announced President Trump’s appointment of seven members to the National Science Board (NSB). Five of the members, Maureen Condic, Suresh Garimella, Steven Leath, Alan Stern and Stephen Willard are new to the board, while Geraldine Richmond and Maria Zuber have previous experience having served one term on the board previously.

The NSB is the governing board of the National Science Foundation responsible for developing and shaping the strategic direction of the agency, as well as maintaining oversight over NSF’s annual budget request to the White House. It also advises the president and Congress on scientific matters and issues a biennial report of the status of U.S. science and engineering. Members are elected to six-year terms.

Of the seven new members, four have substantive scientific backgrounds. Suresh Garimella is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. Steven Leath is the current president of Auburn University, but past work experience also includes extensive experience in agricultural research.

It also has a statutory mission to provide advice to the president and Congress on scientific matters, including by producing a biennial statistical report on the status of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.

For more information on the National Science Board, click here:


The National Science Foundation recently announced its new $25 million investment in projects to advance the cognitive and physical capabilities of workers in the context of human-technology interactions. This investment is coming in the form of funding for 26 new projects.

These new projects will focus on research to help advance greater symbiosis between humans and technology in the workplace and will provide the foundation for improving and increasing human awareness of the following:

  • Models for social understanding and interaction.
  • Teaching and learning.
  • Biases in judgment.
  • Attention, memory and more.

Projects are anticipated to last between three and five years based on various factors such as scope and team size, with awards ranging from $750,000 to $3 million.

"The landscape of jobs and work is changing at unprecedented speed, driven by the development of new technologies that have moved into an expanding array of manufacturing, knowledge and service occupations," said Dawn Tilbury, NSF's assistant director for Engineering. "These changes promise benefits to the nation in terms of increased productivity, opportunity for innovation, the creation of new industries and occupations as well as sustained global leadership."

For a full list of selected projects, click here:

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