October 12, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


The White House recently released the quadrennial Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing, which describes “how Federal agencies, state and local government, the full spectrum of educational institutions, large and small private industry, large and small investors and, most importantly, our citizenry can achieve a national vision of U.S. Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Across Industrial Sectors to Ensure National Security and Economic Prosperity.”

The strategic plan was developed by the National Science and Technology Council, Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing, which was co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Commerce/NIST and staffed by NIST, with representatives from 17 different Federal agencies and offices with interests in advanced manufacturing technologies, international trade, and workforce development.   

The strategy is broken down into three goals:

  • Develop and Transition New Manufacturing Technologies
  • Educate, Train, and Connect the Manufacturing Workforce
  • Expand the Capabilities of the Domestic Manufacturing Supply Chain

Within these three goals, the strategy provides more information such as a set of guidelines for how the administration expects to achieve each of these goals. Along with these guidelines, strategic objectives and technical and program priorities with specific actions and outcomes to be accomplished are laid out.
The report frequently highlights the success of the public-private partnerships of the 14 Manufacturing USA institutes noting that the total program commitment has grown to more than $3 billion, comprised of $1 billion of Federal funds matched by over $2 billion of non-Federal investment.  It also addresses the advanced manufacturing workforce and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), stating “the Manufacturing USA institutes have helped to transform the image of manufacturing from “dirty, dark, and dangerous” to “smart, sustainable, and safe” for students and their parents. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, nearly 200,000 students, teachers and manufacturing practitioners were engaged in an institute project, internship, certification, or training program in a range of advanced manufacturing technologies.”

“When we grow American manufacturing, we don’t only grow our jobs and wages, but we also grow America’s spirit…There is no better place to build, hire, and grow than right here in the United States. America is open for business more than it has ever been open for business.”
– President Trump.
To view the report in full, click here:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Advanced-Manufacturing-Strategic-Plan-2018.pdf


The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently unveiled its updated guidance for autonomous vehicles. The guidance, titled “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” or “AV3.0” for short is an update of “AV2.0” that was released last year.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao explained in the report that “the integration of automation across our transportation system has the potential to increase productivity and facilitate freight movement. But most importantly, automation has the potential to impact safety significantly— by reducing crashes caused by human error, including crashes involving impaired or distracted drivers, and saving lives.”

The report explains that DOT’s approach to shaping federal policy for autonomous vehicles is shaped on six principles:

  • Prioritize Safety;
  • Remain Technology neutral;
  • Modernize regulations;
  • Encourage a consistent regulatory and operational environment;
  • Proactively prepare for automation;
  • Protect and enhance the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

In addition to explaining the policy foundations, the document also lays out several upcoming rulemakings and further steps DOT plans on taking, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s initiation of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address automated vehicles.

The document is still technically a draft. It will soon be published in the Federal Register, at which point it will be available for public review and comment.

To view the guidance document in its current form, click here: https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/policy-initiatives/automated-vehicles/320711/preparing-future-transportation-automated-vehicle-30.pdf


A bipartisan group of senators recently sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to reject the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) consideration to expand the sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol.

“In recent months, media outlets reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering regulatory action to expand the sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol by volume (E15) year-round by waiving certain Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements related to Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP),” the senators write. “However, a one-sided approach to addressing concerns related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that favors only one industry stakeholder is misguided. We are concerned that doing so would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs, could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality.”

As Capitol Update reported back in April, the EPA currently bans the use of E15 fuel—a gasoline mixture that contains 15 percent ethanol as opposed to the normal 10 percent—during the summer months due to the risk that the higher percentage of ethanol leads to an increase in ground-level ozone emissions. However, following on promises to corn-state voters, the administration is considering removing the ban on E15 fuel during the summer months, allowing for a significant increase in ethanol consumption and a boon to corn-state candidates ahead of the November elections. 

To read the letter in full, click here: https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Letter%20to%20Trump%20E15.pdf


The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced $4 million in funding over three years for a new pilot program, Engineering for US All (E4USA), to develop a precollege course on engineering principles and design.

"NSF plays a vital role in helping to build the nation's future engineering workforce, and a key part of that is enabling more students to have access to undergraduate engineering education," said Dawn Tilbury, NSF's assistant director for Engineering. "A standardized high school engineering course will help remove the mystery and democratize the learning and practice of engineering."

The primary aim of the program is to hone a curriculum integrating engineering principles and a student design project that has been developed by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the College Board. Another goal is to create and deploy a national professional development program that will prepare teachers to effectively teach the curriculum and assess student aptitude. Approximately 40 high schools and 1400 students will take part in the pilot.

The program will be led by the University of Maryland, in conjunction with Arizona State University, Morgan State University and Virginia Tech.

For further information on the E4USA program, click here: https://e4usa.umd.edu/


Hot on the heels of the administration and several agencies’ announcement of support for quantum computing science (QSI), a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) states that more collaboration is needed to truly move the needle on QSI in the U.S.

“Agency officials said they coordinate on quantum computing and synthetic biology through efforts such as conferences and interagency groups, but GAO found that certain new efforts have not fully implemented selected leading collaboration practices,” the report explains

The report Considerations for Maintaining U.S. Competitiveness in Quantum Computing, Synthetic Biology, and Other Potentially Transformational Research Areas, also explores ways to maintain U.S. competitiveness through the use of technology. Some of the suggestions listed in the report include:

  • Developing a strategic approach using consortia or other mechanisms to bring together potential partners;
  • Fostering an environment in which information is shared among researchers while also considering the risks of information sharing;
  • Focusing on technology development and commercialization, for example, by providing support across multiple stages of technology innovation; and,
  • Strengthening the science and technology workforce through training, recruiting, and retaining talent.
To view the report in full, click here: https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/694748.pdf


The Directorates for Engineering (ENG), Geosciences (GEO), and the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced that they are accepting proposals for to address challenges that have arisen in the 2018 hurricane season.

The NSF announcement seeks to support fundamental science and engineering research projects whose results may enable the country to better prepare for, respond to, recover from, or mitigate future catastrophic events. Research proposals relating to a better fundamental understanding of the impacts of the storm (physical, biological and societal), human aspects of natural disasters (including first responders and the general public), emergency response methods, and approaches that promise to reduce future damage also are welcome.

This new proposal solicitation seeks Rapid Response Research (RAPID) proposals that support time-sensitive research addressing the challenges related to Hurricane Florence and any further hurricanes that take place prior to October 31, 2018.

To submit a proposal, contact the ENG, GEO or SBE Program Officer most closely related to the proposal topic prior to submission. This is to determine wither the proposal meets NSF’s guidelines for these types of submissions or whether the proposed work is more suitable for submission as a regular research proposal. RAPID proposal project descriptions must not exceed five pages; awards go up to $200,000, and last up to one year in duration.

For additional information, visit: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17128/nsf17128.jsp

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