November 9, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY SEEKS TO CONNECT ENTREPRENEURS, INDUSTRY AND INVESTORS THROUGH THE CLOUD

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) recently announced their new partnership to better connect entrepreneurs, industry and investors with inventions created as a result of federally funded research and development. The NTIS Joint Venture Partnerships (JVP) program will see NIST fund a development project to create a new cloud-based solution that consolidates access to commercially relevant information on federal technologies and intellectual assets.

The goal of the NTIS JVP program is to link private companies seeking technologies to license and commercialize with the appropriate federal agencies, as well as to identify research assets available for further development. Earlier this year, President Trump made improving the transfer of federally funded technologies to the market a Cross Agency Priority Goal in his FY18 President’s Management Agenda. This new partnership further supports the Lab to Market goal of increasing the economic impact of federally funded research and development across all federal agencies by accelerating and improving the transition of new technologies from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace.

“Improving technology transfer and the commercial deployment of inventions arising from federal research and development is a high priority for the administration, and this new project supports the NIST initiative for Unleashing American Innovation,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. “We’re looking forward to making the fruits of federal R&D much more accessible to industry and entrepreneurs, and hence accelerate the development of new technology-based products and services that benefit the U.S. economy.”

For more information about the NTIS JVP Program, click here: https://classic.ntis.gov/services/jvpannounce/


ARPA-E SEEKING INNOVATIVE NEW IDEAS ON HOW TO IMPROVE THE ELECTRIC GRID

A new competition seeks new software that would allow for a more secure, efficient electric grid. The inaugural Grid Optimization (GO) Competition, created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) with support from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is comprised of a series of challenges to create software management solutions that will increase the resiliency and optimization of the electric grid.

The first challenge of the competition is currently open. To move to the next round, applicants must solve a security-constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF) problem. Algorithms will be tested on complex, realistic power system models, with applicants scored on how well their algorithms perform relative to one another. In recent years, there have been significant strides made in computations power. These advancements in optimization solvers have encouraged research on new approaches to grid operations and new approaches to solve SCOPF, among other issues with the electric grid. The challenge is currently open and will close in April 2019.

The second challenge will start next year and last for roughly a year. It will build on the models used in the first challenge, and may include complicating factors such as solving larger network models, optimizing power flows over both transmission and distribution systems, stochastic optimization, leveraging power flow control devices, increased model detail (node/breaker, substation/protection models, etc.) and/or including unit commitment.

For further information about the GO Competition, and to submit an entry, click here: https://gocompetition.energy.gov/


NEW GUIDELINES RELEASED TO BETTER PREPARE STEM AND COMPUTER SCIENCE STUDENTS WITH PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recently released its first ever multidisciplinary set of guidelines for K-12 educators of STEM and computer science. These new guidelines are aimed at teachers for whom the use of computers in the classroom is not currently common practice. The guidelines complement the Computer Science Teachers Association’s pre-existing K-12 computer science standards for students, and are designed to help “educators of all disciplines and with students of all ages.”

One of the primary goals of these new standards is to encourage the use of technology in the classroom for use beyond strictly computer science. “The ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies are designed to prepare students with the skills needed to solve problems of the future,” ISTE CEO Richard Culatta said in a statement. “The CT Competencies provide a framework to help teachers leverage computational thinking across all areas of the curriculum, not just in CS classes.”

The guidelines provide teachers with a new way of thinking and instructing through the use of computers, and encourages teachers to play a more multifaceted role of leader, learner and collaborator in the classroom. The guidelines are aimed at providing a new, more multi-disciplinary way of teaching

To view the new standards, click here: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-computer-science-educators


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ANNOUNCES TWO NEW TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER INITIATIVES TO STREAMLINE ENGAGEMENT WITH NATIONAL LABS

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced two new technology transfer reform initiatives that will facilitate collaboration with DOE facilities and streamline approval of technology transfer agreements to help expedite DOE lab processes. These new initiatives are aimed at encouraging and strengthening government-industry engagement.

“DOE is committed to facilitating innovation, and these reforms significantly streamline the ability for industry to collaborate with the national laboratories, which will unleash some truly amazing accomplishments,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar.

The first initiative is the Laboratory Agreement Processing Reform. This initiative will streamline national lab contractors’ abilities for certain lab partnering agreements and drastically cut down on agreement processing times. Which will allow the national lab to focus more on complex and high-risk transactions.

The second initiative in the Liability Reform, which allows labs more flexibility to address indemnity requirements, which frequently complications private sector partnerships. This initiative will also facilitate national lab partnerships, by tailoring associated risk to the specific circumstances.


NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH SIGNIFICANTLY BOOSTS INVESTMENT IN BRAIN RESEARCH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced significant increases in its investment in cutting-edge brain research. This investment is through funding for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. NIH recently announced over $220 million in funding through more than 200 awards. With this additional funding, the total 2018 support for the BRAIN initiative now totals over $400 million, a more than 50 percent increase from last year.

The BRAIN initiative was started in 2013 as a large-scale effort to accelerate neuroscience research by equipping researchers with the tools and insights necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. Some of the achievements the program has achieved since its start include the discovery of a new type of human brain cell, a self-tuning deep brain stimulation device for treating Parkinson’s disease, and novel new treatments for concussions.

New initiatives that have won awards through this increased funding include the development of a noninvasive brain-computer interface system for improving the lives of paralysis patients, and the testing of noninvasive brain stimulation devices for treating schizophrenia and attention deficit disorders among other brain diseases.

“New tools to map the brain deepen our understanding of how circuit activity relates to behavior,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health. “The BRAIN Initiative is laying the foundation for improved ways to target brain circuits disrupted in brain disorders.”

For more information about the BRAIN Initiative, click here: https://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/


DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ANNOUNCES OVER $5 MILLION IN MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING EDUCATION FUNDING

The Department of Defense (DOD) recently announced over $5,775,755 in funding through four grants in support of the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program (MEEP). MEEP was established under the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to establish new or to enhance existing programs (or collections of programs) to better position the current and next-generation manufacturing workforce to produce military systems and components that assure technological superiority for the Department of Defense DoD.

“Historically, the Nation’s manufacturing base has allowed the United States to build the most complex and capable weapons systems in the world, allowing the military to meet the full spectrum of missions,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, Director, Laboratories Office. “Nurturing and growing the manufacturing capacity in the United States through MEEP will allow the United States to maintain its technological advantage and ignite the next generation of manufacturing talent.”

The four projects that will be receiving funding are:

  • Battelle Education (Columbus, OH): Battelle will leverage public private partnerships to strengthen the manufacturing engineering education at the high school level.
  • Clemson University (Clemson, SC): Clemson University will develop immersive and personalized instruction to strengthen learning and retention for high-school through graduate school students.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA): The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop a comprehensive 15-month apprenticeship training program in support of a highly-skilled manufacturing workforce. This program will teach general and specific manufacturing competencies (ex., introductory quantum mechanics, electrical technology, and design principles) that demonstrate the interrelation of various manufacturing sectors.
  • National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining (Blairsville, PA): The National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining will develop and launch a series of new virtual courses, inclusive of additive manufacturing and related technologies, to broaden and extend the scope of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ long-standing certificate programs.

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