November 4, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


On Dec. 9, the Congressionally-passed stop gap measure to keep the federal government running will end. Thus far, there have been negative consequences flowing from the measure, such as a slowdown in medical research, the scrapping of field tests for the 2020 Census, the inability to start new contracts for weapons systems, and delayed National Institutes of Health research grants.

While the consequences are not dire, they are real. At the NIH, for example, research grants are getting delayed because of the funding uncertainty. A research lab that lacks money cannot continue to experiment and with a 3 percent reduction in the grant approval rate, hundreds of scientists are losing access to research money.

When the House and Senate return to session on November 14 after the elections, they will have work to do to complete a FY17 spending package before the December holiday season.


ASME has the unique distinction of being the very first engineering/scientific society to have the vision to establish a Congressional fellowship program. For the past 43 years, ASME has provided a valuable service to the nation by sponsoring over 100 Federal Fellows who served in the Executive and Legislative Branch. ASME Federal Government Fellowships have enabled selected ASME members to devote a year working in government providing engineering and technical advice to policy makers in Congress, federal agencies, and the White House. This premier program serves as a testament to ASME’s long-standing commitment to national security, national issues and the continuing development of the engineering profession.

ASME Members – and non-members – are invited to join ASME Government Relations for a webinar scheduled for Wednesday, December 7, 2016 from 12:00pm-1:00pm (EST) highlighting a current and former Fellow who will be providing their personal perspectives on their accomplishments and challenges while serving as an ASME Fellow in the Executive and Legislative Branch.
Lester Su, Ph.D., Chair of the ASME Committee on Government Relations, will be moderating the session and will be joined by two of our Fellows who will be describing what they have learned about public policy making as it relates to the manufacturing and energy, as well as answering your questions about this invaluable opportunity

  • Noel Bakhtian, Ph.D. served as a 2016 ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow at the White House Office of Science & Technology in the energy division.
  • Said Jahanmir, Ph.D. who is currently serving as a 2015-16 ASME Congressional Fellow for the Honorable Tim Ryan (D-OH).

Register here: and on the ASME Public Policy website of

Additionally, ASME is currently taking applications until January 31, 2017 to become a ASME Fellow at


Over half of all energy generation added in 2015 has come from renewable energy sources rather than coal as countries have taken advantage of cost reductions in wind and solar power. For example, according to the International Energy Agency, there were half a million solar panels installed every day around the world last year.

This is a historic time as global power markets are being transformed by renewables, and developing countries are becoming the center of gravity for growth in renewables. In fact, global installed capacity of wind and solar plants has surpassed that of coal-fired plants as coal use has declined.

The International Energy Agency also reported that world will generate much more renewable energy than previously expected in the next five years. Approximately 28 percent of the world's electricity will come from renewable sources in 2021, which represents an increase from the previous forecast of 25 percent. The increase is due to developing nations making greater commitments to wind and solar projects, which have seen costs plummet.

The push to renewables is a result of several factors such as slow grid evolution, use of batteries to stabilize the grid, customers being persuaded to shift away from use at peak demand periods, and fast starting natural gas power plants to act as backup power sources.

To read the IAE report, please visit:


Rapidly developing car technology is being met with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) newly proposed guidance for vehicle cybersecurity. There are recommendations that direct automakers and tech companies to include: multiple layers of protections in their designs that prevent hacking; allow for information sharing; vulnerability reporting; limiting developer access to production devices; and limiting control vehicle maintenance diagnostic access. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement that cybersecurity is "a top priority" for DOT.

Co-founder of the Senate Smart Transportation Caucus, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) was quoted as saying that there are challenges that must be overcome to ensure vehicle technologies reach their full potential, especially with the increased automation and computerization taking place.
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) had some harsh words for DOT that the guidance being released was not a sufficient effort. They want to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set out cybersecurity and privacy standards, and create a system to rate cars based on the strength of their cybersecurity and privacy protections.
To read more and provide comments to the guidance, please visit:


The first gene therapy for an inherited disease in the U.S. is closer to reality than ever before.
The second company to pursue an application to the Food and Drug Administration for such a treatment is Spark Therapeutics, and is likely to be the first to hit the market next year. The gene therapy, known as SPK-RPE65, targets mutations in people’s eyes that often lead to blindness. Currently, there are no drugs available to treat these disorders, known as inherited retinal dystrophies.

Thus far, products in the gene therapy field have seen clinical failures. Often, this is due to the use of animal models, which do not adequately expose the potential problems of gene therapy and therefore do not allow therapeutic development to move forward.

For more information, please visit:


The Energy Department announced $21.4 million in funding for 17 new projects to assist in reducing the "soft costs" commonly found with solar energy, such as installation, permitting, and connecting to the grid.  With more Americans turning toward using renewable energy, nine of the awards will focus on how the solar industry can sustain and accelerate this growth by understanding the multiple factors that influence the technology adoption process. There will be also be a specific focus on low- and moderate-income communities’ decision making to utilize more renewables. The other eight awards will focus on the solar market challenges at the local levels through better strategic energy and economic planning.  

The Department's SunShot Initiative is the enabling program to promote widespread deployment of safe, reliable, and cost-effective solar energy.

More information can be found at:


The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) Additive Manufacturing Initiative has developed 3D printed materials with a unique property that shrinks rather than expands upon being heated. This phenomenon was published in the October 21 edition of the journal  Physical Review Letters and explains that the material can be adjusted to shrink over a large temperature range of tens to hundreds of degrees. With such a thermomechanical metamaterial, there will be new applications available that were not otherwise possible, such as securing parts, including microchips and high precision optical mounts,that tend to move out of alignment under varying heat loads.

Jonathan Hopkins, a former LLNL postdoctoral researcher and now an assistant professor of mechanical aerospace & engineering at UCLA said, "The interesting thing (about the structure) is it's made of two different materials, beams and void space," Hopkins explained. "When you heat it, as long as one of the beams expands more than the others, then the connecting points between each unit cell pulls inward and makes the overall lattice pull inward. It's an immediate thermal contraction, which is the unique thing about it."

For additional information, go to:


The Energy Department (DOE) recently announced $10 million, subject to appropriations, to support the launch of the HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium (HydroGEN). This consortium will utilize the expertise and capabilities of the national laboratories to accelerate the development of commercially viable pathways for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources.  

HydroGEN is being launched as part of the Energy Materials Network (EMN) that began in early 2016 to give American entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global race for clean energy. EMN is tackling barriers to widespread clean energy commercialization such as integrated design, testing, and the manufacturing of advanced materials.

Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and including Sandia National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Savannah River National Laboratory, the consortium is providing capabilities to companies, academia, and other labs, and detailing mechanisms for engagement with the consortium.
To read more about the EMN efforts, please visit:

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

  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at
  • Paul Fakes covers public policy-related energy, standards and environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at
  • Roy Chrobocinski covers public policy-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at