In this issue:

 

 

FOUR DOE NOMINEES CLEAR SENATE BUT MAJUMDAR STILL ON HOLD

On March 28th, before the Senate adjourned for a two-week recess, the Senate confirmed four nominees to key Department of Energy (DOE) positions, but left out one crucial nominee, ASME Fellow and the first Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Arun Majumdar.  The nominees were approved last year by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR). 

Nominated to replace former Assistant Secretary Kathy Zoi who departed from the DOE over a year ago, Dr. David Danielson was confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. He has been a Program Director at the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) since 2009. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Dr. Danielson was a clean energy venture capitalist at General Catalyst Partners, a Boston-based venture capital fund. He co-founded the firm's clean energy investment practice and helped build and grow startups in various clean energy technology areas, including solar power, wind power, advanced biofuels, bio-gas, carbon capture and storage, and advanced lighting. Dr. Danielson is a co-founder of the New England Clean Energy Council. Dr. Danielson holds a B.S., summa cum laude, in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ms. Dot Harris was also confirmed as Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact. She is currently President and CEO of Jabo Industries, LLC, a minority-woman owned management consulting firm concentrated primarily in the energy, information technology and healthcare industries. Previously, Ms. Harris was an executive at General Electric Company (GE) and held a number of leadership positions in GE's Energy and Industrial Systems businesses, including Global Marketing Leader for GE's Industrial Services business. Ms. Harris currently serves as the National Secretary for the American Association of Blacks in Energy. She holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC and a M.S. in Technology Management from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, GA.

Mr. Charles McConnell was confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. Currently he is the Chief Operating Officer in the Office of Fossil Energy at DOE. Prior to joining DOE in 2011, Mr. McConnell served as Vice President of Carbon Management at Battelle Energy Technology from 2009-2011, with responsibility for business and technology management. He previously spent 31 years with Praxair, Inc., in various positions in the U.S. and Asia, including as Global Vice President. Mr. McConnell holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and an M.B.A. in Finance from Cleveland State University.

Finally, Mr. Gregory H. Woods was confirmed as DOE’s General Counsel. He is currently the Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation. From 2004 to 2009, Mr. Woods was a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York, NY. He was an associate at the firm from 1998 to 2004. Mr. Woods was a member of the firm's corporate finance and Latin American practice groups and a member of the firm's hiring and diversity committees. From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Woods was a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he litigated fraud cases. Mr. Woods holds a B.A. from Williams College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

The nomination of ASME Fellow Dr. Arun Majumdar, currently the director of ARPA-E, to become Under Secretary of Energy is still subject to an anonymous hold. Dr. Majumdar was nominated last November, and sailed through his confirmation hearing with ENR. 

Last month Sen. Reid tried to confirm these nominees by unanimous consent on the Senate floor; which brought Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the floor to confirm that he was holding up these confirmations.  It should be noted that at a ENR hearing last month with Secretary Steven Chu, Sen. Paul demonstrated a strong concern in the perseverance of the government-owned uranium enrichment plant located in Peducah, KY that is set to close soon. Lawmakers from Kentucky have been meeting with the DOE to try to keep the plant open to enrich its leftover uranium and then sell it. 

More information about the confirmed DOE nominees can be found at: http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/democratic-news?ID=2ebe0b96-149b-430c-9200-e533e2efc9c6

To learn more about the Peducah uranium enrichment plant, please visit: http://paul.senate.gov/?p=video&id=479

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

 

CONGRESSIONAL R&D CAUCUS HOSTS BRIEFING ON THE ROLE OF RESEARCH IN FACILITATING TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES

Late last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) conducted a bipartisan congressional briefing sponsored by the Coalition for National Science Funding and hosted by the Congressional Research and Development Caucus and its Co-Chairs Rush Holt (NJ-12) and Judy Biggert (IL-13) and special guests Representatives Daniel Lipinski (IL-3) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).

"For 60 years, NSF has played a central role in innovation by catalyzing the development of fundamental ideas in science and engineering and supporting the people who generate them," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "NSF remains the nation's engine of innovation, the fuel for which is fundamental research. NSF's mission positions it to stimulate innovative research that connects the science and engineering enterprise with potential economic, societal and educational benefits."

NSF supports a broad range of fundamental science and engineering research. Through a series of innovation programs, NSF continues to catalyze the transformation of fundamental research efforts into market reality and nurture the commercialization of technology, creating high-quality jobs and economic growth. These NSF programs leverage partnerships with the private sector in order to strengthen the nation's innovation ecosystem, enhancing America's global economic competitiveness.

The briefing highlighted NSF-supported efforts, representing activities at the three primary stages of innovation: making discoveries through industrially relevant fundamental research; creating new technology companies; and, moving useful technology into the marketplace.

Basic research is at the core of NSF's mission, with the agency providing $5.6 billion for fundamental science and engineering to 11,000 of the nation's colleges and universities. One mechanism NSF supports to enhance basic research in partnership with industry is the Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program.

For additional information on the briefing, please visit: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=123702&org=NSF&from=news

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development (R&D) issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

NGA BRIEF HIGHLIGHTS ADVANTAGES OF INFORMAL SCIENCE

Adding to the chorus of reports suggesting an erosion of dominance by the U.S. in areas of science, engineering and technology, a new issue brief released by the National Governors Association (NGA), says that while the U.S. remains the world hub of science and technology capacity, its dominance is increasingly being challenged by the fast growth of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Asia and other parts of the developing world.  Currently, the increase of U.S. students pursuing studies and careers in STEM lags. The brief entitled “The Role of Informal Science in the State Education Agenda” looks at a type of innovation that complements other important initiatives.

Informal science education—which largely takes place outside the classroom at museums, science centers and other institutions—is an often overlooked tool that can be helpful for states seeking to boost their students’ understanding of math and science. Activities for informal science education include: sustained student learning beyond the classroom; limited-duration programs that compliment classroom learning; teacher professional development programs; and bringing resources to the classroom and student.

To help states make informal science a part of their state STEM agenda, the brief recommends that governors should:

  • Explicitly include informal science education on their agenda of actions to improve STEM literacy and proficiency among the state’s youth;
  • Continue to support quality informal science programs in the state such as those offered by museums and science centers;
  • Encourage districts to support more project-based STEM learning in afterschool environments; and,
  • Encourage the governor’s STEM council or state education agency to oversee the creation of an on-line catalogue of informal science activities offered throughout the state and a compendium of program evaluations.

The 13-page brief is available for review at: http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1203INFORMALSCIENCEBRIEF.PDF

Melissa Carl handles public policy-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues for ASME.  She can be reached at carlm@asme.org  

 

 

USPTO AND NIST UNVEIL NEW IP AWARENESS ASSESSMENT TOOL

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) have teamed up to unveil a new web-based IP Awareness Assessment Tool designed to help manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent inventors easily assess their knowledge of intellectual property (IP). 

“Understanding and protecting IP is an important part of the process of bringing innovations to the market place,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. “We hope this new tool will be useful for companies and individuals helping them to create value and be more globally competitive.”

Intellectual property is a key concern of small businesses owners, who can secure significant competitive advantages by exercising the rights they hold to their innovations. However, many individuals are often unaware of their rights and miss the opportunities they can provide. USPTO and NIST MEP developed the IP Awareness Assessment Tool as a way to help educate innovators about these rights.

The tool enables users to measure and increase their awareness of IP issues, relevant to their creative projects and business goals. Users answer a comprehensive set of questions regarding IP, after which the tool provides a set of training resources tailored to specifically identified needs.

The tool is available on USPTO’s website at: http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/assessment/

Robert Rains handles public policy-related standards issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org  

 

 

FOUNDATION APPROVES BALDRIGE FUNDING THROUGH 2015

The Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Inc. voted last week to commit funds to sustain the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) through fiscal year 2015. The funding is further evidence of the foundation’s commitment to the long-term viability of Baldrige.

The foundation stipulated that the use of the funds is for the furtherance of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and BPEP. The foundation will review the gift annually to determine any appropriate adjustments for a rolling three-year period.

Foundation Chair Debbie J. Collard said the foundation’s support is due in part to its confidence in the ongoing development of the business and financial model by the Baldrige Enterprise, which includes BPEP, the foundation, the Alliance for Performance Excellence, and ASQ. BPEP will use the funding in conjunction with revenues raised through a variety of fee-based product and service offerings to ensure both its and the Enterprise’s sustainability.

In addition, the foundation has retained a professional fundraising firm to assist with its efforts on increasing the Foundation endowment. Firm representatives will be attending the 24th Annual Quest for Excellence to collect data and determine key messages.
For more information about BPEP and the Baldrige Enterprise, please visit: http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/transition/index.cfm

Robert Rains handles public policy-related NIST issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org  

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development (R&D) issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

LAUNCH: BEYOND WASTE CHALLENGE NOW OPEN

NASA, The US Agency for International Development (USAID), The Department of State, and NIKE joined together to form LAUNCH in an effort to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to global sustainability challenges. LAUNCH searches for visionaries whose world-class ideas, technologies or programs show great promise for making tangible impacts on society in the developed and/or developing worlds. A portfolio of up to 10 innovations will be selected for support, networking and mentoring from influential business and government leaders.

The goal of the LAUNCH: Beyond Waste Challenge is to identify ten “game changing” innovations that have the potential to transform the current waste management systems and practices to ones focused on minimizing waste and/or transforming waste into new products. This Challenge was posted and open for submissions beginning April 1, 2012 and will close May 15, 2012.

LAUNCH invites proposals for innovative design for zero waste solutions, waste elimination, waste transformation, and waste mitigation technologies, as well as waste reduction-focused education, business, and financial strategies that have the potential to reduce and/or eliminate waste at a household, community, office building, campus, or industrial level.

Details of the LAUNCH: BEYOND WASTE CHALLENGE, Innovative Waste Technologies and Deployment Models for Sustainable Development are available at: http://launch.org/images/2012_LAUNCH_WASTE_CHALLENGE.pdf

Additional information about the challenge can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/02/launching-ideas-waste-less-tomorrow

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

 

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.

EDITOR: Mary James Legatski, ASME Government Relations, 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036-5104.