October 23, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:


ASME CO-SPONSORS BRIEFING ON “BUILDING STEM EDUCATION PIPELINE ALIGNED WITH INDUSTRY NEEDS: PERSPECTIVES FROM THE FIELD”

On October 20th, ASME cosponsored a Congressional briefing, “Building STEM Education Pipeline Aligned with Industry Needs: Perspectives from the Field” in partnership with the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) (lead), American Chemical Society (ACS), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Computing Research Association (CRA). The briefing, held in conjunction with the House STEM Education Caucus, focused on ways that colleges and universities can creatively engage students in the STEM fields and bridge the gap between education and careers in the field. Panelists focused on initiatives at the two-year and four-year college levels as well as the graduate and doctoral levels. 

Moderated by Dr. Beth Ambos, Executive Officer at CUR, the panelists included: Dr. Nancy Amato, Texas A&M University; Dr. Collins Jones, Montgomery College; and, Dr. Oscar Barton Jr., George Mason University.

Amato stressed the importance of mentoring and diversifying computing. She spoke about K-12 and undergraduate students tinkering, and participating in hands-on competitions, like FIRST Robotics, to get them excited and interested in STEM. She made a strong point that diversity drives innovation. Last week, Amato was named one of the TOP 25 Women in Robotics: http://robohub.org/25-women-in-robotics-you-need-to-know-about-2015.

Jones agreed and also discussed the importance of training and preparing students for a STEM career. He discussed the Biotech Program he runs at Montgomery College. A surprising demographic he pointed out was 60 percent of his students already have BS or MS degrees. While most of these students are already employed in the Biotech Industry, there are many opportunities for students and meeting workforce needs for the Biotech Industry. Barton, who chairs ASME’s Committee on Engineering Accreditation and serves as a Commissioner of ABET, echoed the need for hands-on problem solving. He encourages all of his students to think of problems they can solve to improve their lives through engineering. He said, “We need to change the STEM Pipeline, starting with who we recruit to enter and where they enter the engineering field.” He introduced ASME’s Vision 2030 as a solution to address some of these issues around ME degree programs and industry needs.

All the panelists agreed that two-year colleges need to feed more into four-year institutions. Change needs happen in how we define success for undergrads, it’s more than just becoming a PhD. Finally, they felt corporate engagement should come earlier, capturing industry in the first or second year of engineering to help encourage and retain students in later years. Changing the picture of STEM involves more focus on critical thinkers and problem solvers than exact STEM courses themselves.

For more information about this ASME-related activity, including photos from the event, please visit the ASME_FutureME twitter page or http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/stem-workforce-development/


EPA RELEASES FINAL CLEAN POWER PLAN RULE TODAY

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will be published in today’s Federal Register.
In response to the formal publication of the Clean Power Plan final rule, several states opposed to the rule are expected to immediately file legal actions to request a stay of the new regulations. Fifteen states have previously filed suit to block the rule, but their challenges were ruled premature. To secure a delay of implementation of the rule, states will have to prove they will face irreparable harm if the rule takes effect.

EPA's final rule to address carbon dioxide emissions from new and modified power plants, as well as its draft federal implementation plan for states that do not comply with the Clean Power Plan, have also been published today.

To view the final rule, visit: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/


ENERGY DEPARTMENT REPORT EXAMINES ENERGY SECTOR CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS

The Department of Energy (DOE) has released a new report that examines the current and potential future impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the U.S. energy sector. The report includes analysis of regional-specific climate challenges and is intended to be used as a resource tool for utility owners and infrastructure planners.

Previously, DOE’s 2013 report, “U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather,” provided a national perspective on U.S. energy system vulnerabilities to potential climate impacts, including increasing temperatures, decreasing water availability, and increasing storms, flooding, and sea level rise. This new report builds on that report, the recently released Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), and other DOE preparedness and resilience initiatives.

Key findings from the new report, “Climate Change and the U.S. Energy Sector: Regional Vulnerabilities and Resilience Solutions,” include:

  • Oil and gas upstream operations are most vulnerable in the Southeast, Southern Great Plains, and Alaska.
  • Fuel transport in every region is vulnerable to a variety of climate impacts, including increasing heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, hurricanes, and sea level rise-enhanced storm surge.
  • Thermoelectric power generation is vulnerable to increasing temperatures and reduced water availability in most regions, particularly in the Midwest, Great Plains, and southern regions.
  • Hydropower is vulnerable to reduced snowpack, earlier melting, and changes to precipitation patterns, mainly in western regions.
  • Bioenergy crops in the Midwest and Northern Great Plains may be harmed by higher temperatures and more frequent droughts and floods.
  • Electric grid operations and infrastructure in every region is vulnerable to a variety of climate impacts, including increasing temperatures, heavy rainfall events, wildfire, hurricanes, and storm surge.
  • Electricity demand is affected by increasing temperatures and is a key vulnerability in nearly every region.
The full report is available for download at: http://ppec.asme.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Regional_Climate_Vulnerabilities_and_Resilience_Solutions_0.pdf


ENERGY DEPARTMENT PRESSING AHEAD ON NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL OPTIONS

In January 2013, the Administration released its ‘Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste’, which serves as a statement of Administration policy regarding the importance of addressing the disposition of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Despite the national importance of the issue, DOE action faces a host of roadblocks, including lack of direction and authorization from Congress on how to proceed.

Despite the challenges facing Yucca Mountain and the unlikelihood of a new long-term storage option being designated by Congress, DOE has established a Nuclear Fuels Storage and Transportation (NFST) Planning Project to develop an integrated management plan to (1) implement interim storage; (2) improve the overall integration of storage as a planned part of the waste management system; and (3) prepare for the large-scale transportation of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste, with an initial focus on removing used nuclear fuel from the shutdown reactor sites.

The initial objectives of the NFST Planning Project are to identify, plan, and conduct activities required to achieve the Strategy milestones for interim storage and supporting transportation. The NFST Planning Project activities are prioritized and executed such that they will provide a foundation for a new nuclear waste management organization, if authorized by Congress.

To read the Administration’s ‘Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste,’ visit: http://energy.gov/downloads/strategy-management-and-disposal-used-nuclear-fuel-and-high-level-radioactive-waste


SUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY FOR ENGINEERING STUDENTS IN PUBLIC POLICY

Ranked as one of the best internships in the U.S. by the Princeton Review, WISE (Washington Internships for Students of Engineering) offers a unique opportunity to 3rd and 4th year engineering students to spend the summer of 2016 in Washington, DC, learning about the interaction of technology and public policy. The dates of the 2016 WISE program are June 5- August 5, 2016.

Selected from a nationwide competition, WISE interns spend nine weeks learning how government officials make decisions on complex technological issues and how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions.  At the end of the nine weeks, each intern produces a public policy paper on a topic of interest, i.e. alternate energy, and presents his or her findings on Capitol Hill.

After the completion of his internship this past August 2015, ASME WISE intern Garrett Dowd said, "The WISE program has allowed me to investigate the surprisingly strong link between engineering and public policy. Both fields are focused on improving the human condition and it is exciting to learn how public policy can be used to the benefit of engineering and the society at large.”

More information about the 2015 WISE interns and their paper topics can be found at: https://www.asme.org/career-education/articles/career-and-education/wise-beyond-their-years

Rebecca Ciez, ASME’s 2014 WISE intern, was also recently interviewed for asme.org, where she discusses how her different experiences and interests influenced her career path. To view the interview, go to: http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/revelations-in-pursuing-an-engineering-career-featuring-2014-wise-intern-rebecca-ciez/

ASME is now accepting applications for its 2016 WISE intern. The ASME application can downloaded at http://www.wise-intern.org. The application deadline is December 31, 2015.

In addition to 3rd and 4th year engineering students, recent graduates, beginning study in an engineering policy-related Master’s program, will also be considered. WISE interns are provided housing in a dormitory on the campus of George Washington University in the heart of Washington, DC, and receive a stipend to assist with living and travel expenses.

Applicants MUST BE a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States and are not eligible for the program if not already a permanent resident of the United States.

For more information, please visit the ASME WISE program website at: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations/washington-internships-for-students-of-engineering, or you may contact Melissa Carl, Government Relations Manager, at carlm@asme.org


COMPETITION OPENS FOR SECOND ANNUAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE INNOVATION CHALLENGE

On October 15th, the National Science Foundation (NSF) in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) opens up competition for the second annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC). This contest calls on students enrolled in community colleges to propose innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-based solutions to perplexing, real-world problems.

For more information, please visit: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/stem-workforce-development/

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