September 14, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:

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ASME 2018-2019 CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE IN ENERGY, BIOENGINEERING AND ADVANCED MANUFACTURING

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 https://www.asme.org/about-asme/get-involved/advocacy-government-relations/federal-fellows-program

To apply, please visit:  https://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations/federal-fellows-program/new-20182019-congressional-fellowship-energy


DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY TO INVEST $2 BILLION IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE INITIATIVE

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced that it will be investing up to $2 billion towards new programs advancing artificial intelligence (AI) over the next five years. This funding comes as part of its new “AI Next” campaign that is aimed at understanding and addressing the limitations of first and second wave AI technologies through the advancement of third wave technologies.
“With AI Next, we are making multiple research investments aimed at transforming computers from specialized tools to partners in problem-solving,” said Dr. Walker. “Today, machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible. We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognize new situations and environments and adapt to them.”
Under AI Next, DARPA is funding over 20 programs that explore new ways to further push AI technologies. One of the key components of the program will be DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration program that was first launched in July, 2018 [click here to view the Capitol Update’s initial reporting on this program]. Some of the other areas AI Next is exploring include:

  • Automating critical DoD business processes, such as security clearance vetting in a week or accrediting software systems in one day for operational deployment;
  • Improving the robustness and reliability of AI systems;
  • Enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies;
  • Reducing power, data, and performance inefficiencies;
  • Pioneering the next generation of AI algorithms and applications, such as “explainability” and commonsense reasoning.

For more information about AI Next, click here: https://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/ai-next-campaign


NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION IS SEEKING SUBMISSIONS OF INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR ITS NSF 2026 IDEA MACHINE

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced the launch of its NSF 2026 Idea Machine initiative. The Idea Machine is an 8-week competition that runs from August 31 through October 26 that allows applicants the chance to contribute to the basic research federal agenda through 2026 and beyond.

The goal of the competition is to provide NSF with new ambitious ideas that address current issues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and open the door for new areas of transformative research. This research should support basic research and positively impact the relationship between science and society.

"Scientific creativity and innovation have no bounds. Everyone in the scientific community, from middle schoolers to emeriti professors, as well as anyone who loves science in the general public have ideas about the future and what might be possible," said Suzi Iacono, head of NSF's Office of Integrative Activities. "We want to harness those rich imaginations through an approach that's totally new for NSF, but also in keeping with our tradition of reaching out into the community to find fresh, new ideas that have the potential to benefit science and society."

NSF will select between two and four winning entries and award them $26,000 along with the chance to be honored at an event in Washington, DC. All applications must be submitted by October 26.

For further information and to submit an application, click here: https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsf2026ideamachine/index.jsp


NUCLEAR ENERGY LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE WITH STRONG FOCUS ON INNOVATION AND PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

Several members of the Senate recently introduced the bipartisan bill, S. 3422—the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA). NELA aims to restore the U.S.’s prowess in nuclear energy through increased nuclear energy innovation thanks to strong public-private partnerships.
The bill was introduced to much support from Senators on both sides of the aisle with Senator Murkowski (R-AK) remarking, “Our bipartisan bill will help rejuvenate the U.S. nuclear industry by providing the tools, resources, and partnerships necessary to drive innovation in advanced reactors. I thank my colleagues for joining me in sponsoring this timely measure to create American jobs and restore our global leadership on nuclear technologies.”
In this vein, the legislation also encourages education initiatives, workforce development and further training programs in nuclear science. The bill contains several sections looking to broach this issue from several sides encompassing these various education and training initiatives. These sections include:

  • Authorization of Long-Term Power Purchase Agreements;
  • Long-Term Nuclear Power Purchase Agreement Pilot Program;
  • Advanced Nuclear Reactor Research and Development Goals;
  • Nuclear Energy Strategic Plan;
  • Versatile, Reactor-Based Fast Neutron Source;
  • Advanced Nuclear Fuel Security Programs; and
  • University Nuclear Leadership Program.

To view the legislation in full, click here: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=files.serve&File_id=7764F797-D612-45E0-8536-A83A7B478BCB


NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY AWARDS $4 MILLION TO SMALL BUSINESSES FOR INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced that it has awarded $4 million in grant funding to 21 small businesses for innovative technology development through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

NIST is an institute that falls under the Department of Commerce. The SBIR program is a competitive program that encourages small businesses to undertake research and development (R&D) with the end goal of commercialization. The overall goals of the program are:

  • Stimulate technological innovation.
  • Meet Federal R&D needs.
  • Foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by women and socially or economically disadvantaged persons.
  • Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal R&D funding.

The program is broken up into three phases. Phase 1 establishes the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposal. Phase II is based on the results achieved in Phase I, and the scientific benefits and commercial potential of the proposal for the next phase. Phase III is typically for the small business to build on the commercialization objectives based on the results of the activities of Phases I and II.

Of the 21 grants NIST is awarding, 11 and for Phase I covering a variety of topics such as Advanced Manufacturing and Material Measurements; Advanced Communications, Networks and Scientific Data Systems; Cybersecurity and Privacy; Exploratory Measurement Science; and Physical Infrastructure and Resilience. The remaining 10 grants are for Phase II projects that cover Collaborations and Partnership; Data and Modeling; Precision Measurements; and Systems.

For further information on the NIST SBIR program, click here: https://www.nist.gov/tpo/small-business-innovation-research-program


CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN SIGNS NEW RENEWABLE ENERGY MANDATE

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill pledging that the state will get all of its electricity from renewable sources, achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. In interim measures to help achieve this goal, California has also stated that by 2025, 50% of all power will be derived from renewable sources, and 60% by 2030.

California has already implemented the most stringent greenhouse gas emission reduction limits in the U.S. Between 2015 and 2016, these limits saved roughly 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. These limits also allowed California to achieve its GHG emission reduction goals for 2020 four years early, reducing emissions by 13 percent.

“This is the next step in California’s continuing effort to combat global warming,” Brown said. “It’s a very important commitment to clean energy that sends a signal to industry to step up to the plate and provide the new technologies that are required.”

In addition to the carbon neutrality bill, Governor Brown also signed two additional bills to block new oil drilling off the coast of California by preventing the construction of any infrastructure or materials related to the drilling, such as pipelines.

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