In this issue:

 

 

ASME CO-SPONSORS CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON INCREASING MINORITY PARTICIPATION IN STEM FIELDS
ASME, along with other members of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition, recently hosted a Congressional briefing on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.” The event was held in collaboration with the Congressional Diversity & Innovation Caucus.

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, presented the findings of the report: despite federal, state, and local efforts to increase minority participation in the STEM fields, the STEM pipeline is leaking. In 2006, underrepresented minority groups comprised 28.5 percent of the nation’s population, but only 9.1 percent of college-educated Americans in science and engineering (S&E) occupations.  Underrepresented minorities comprise 17.7 percent of overall enrollment in U.S. graduate schools, but are awarded only 14.6% of science and engineering masters and 5.4% of science and engineering doctorates. This underrepresentation of minority groups in STEM fields is a severe impediment to national competitiveness.
 
The report also found that while underrepresented minorities aspire to major in STEM in college at the same rates as their white and Asian American peers, and have done so since the late 1980s, they have lower four- and five-year undergraduate STEM completion rates relative to those of whites and Asian Americans.

To increase the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, the report recommends:

  • Improving college awareness activities for prospective college students;
  • Focusing on college admissions policies that support matriculation of qualified underrepresented minorities;
  • Raising awareness of STEM careers through K-12 activities; improve counseling for STEM; and implement activities that promote STEM;
  • Promoting STEM outreach that specifically targets underrepresented minorities; and,
  • Providing financial assistance is most effective in reducing attrition among low-income and minority students in STEM when offered in conjunction with academic support and social integration.

A copy of Dr. Hrabowski’s presentation on the report may be found at: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/COSEPUP/diversity_senate/index.htm

The report may be read on-line at: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/PGA_041693

ASME serves as the engineering co-chair of the STEM Education Coalition.  For more information about the Coalition, please visit: http://www.stemedcoalition.org/

Melissa Carl covers public policy-related STEM workforce issues for ASME. She can be reached at carlm@asme.org**

 

 

EPA SEEKS COST EFFECTIVE METHODS FOR REDUCING INDUSTRIAL BOILER EMISSIONS
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has relaxed its proposed rules for reducing pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators used at oil refineries, chemical plants, paper mills, and other factories, responding to an outcry from a wide range of industries over the potential cost of its previous plans. 

The agency received more than 4,800 comments from businesses and communities across the country in response to the proposed rules. Public input included a significant amount of information that industry had not provided prior to the proposal.  The final rules outlined last week would ease pollution-control requirements for large boilers that burn certain types of fuels and on small ones that the agency says do not account for a significant portion of emissions.  The EPA estimates that the total industry cost of compliance will now be $2.1 billion a year, from $3.9 billion under the original proposal. 

Types of boilers covered by the new rule include:

  • Boilers located at small sources of air toxics emissions;
  • Solid waste incinerators; and
  • Boilers at large sources of air toxics emissions.

Although the decision has won some cautious praise from environmental groups, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have indicated that they would like to see the rule reduced further.  Specifically, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has suggested that his committee will hold hearings on the topic in the 112th Session of Congress. 

To read Rep. Upton’s statement on the standards for boilers and incinerators, please visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/News/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=8269

For more information on the proposed standards for boilers and incinerators, please visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/06ddff3abfb133d585257840005e6406!OpenDocument

Robert Rains covers public policy-related environmental issues for ASME.  He can be reached at rainsr@asme.org ***

 

 

OSTP LAUNCHES “R&D DASHBOARD” TO MAKE FEDERAL R&D DATA ACCESSIBLE
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has launched a new website designed to help the public track the effects of federal investments in research and development (R&D). The R&D Dashboard beta web site provides an initial look at U.S. federal investments in science and research from two agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) from years 2000-2009. Those two agencies support more than 80 percent of the federal government’s support of university-based research. The R&D Dashboard will be expanded in a future iteration to include all federal research and development spending and expanded information on outputs.

The Dashboard presents data on the grants issued by the federal government to research institutions (“investments”) and the publications and patent activity produced by researchers funded by those investments (“outputs”). The site reports “where” investments have been made at the state, congressional district and research institution levels. In addition, the site provides information on “what” investments have been made by providing the user the ability to select topic areas at the same geographic levels of detail.

Users of the website will be able to learn how federal R&D investments in NIH and/or NSF have contributed to their communities, universities or states and how federal research grants are contributing to the scientific and engineering literature in various fields.

The R&D Dashboard may be viewed at http://rd-dashboard.nitrd.gov/. It is a beta site, and feedback is welcome. Please direct comments or questions to http://rd-dashboard.nitrd.gov/contact.html

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

 

 

DOE ANALYSIS FINDS GOAL OF ONE MILLION ELECTRIC VEHICLES BY 2015 WITHIN REACH
An analysis released earlier this month by the Department of Energy (DOE) found that while manufacturers are planning to produce in the range of one million electric vehicles (EV) by 2015, additional policy steps will also be needed to further drive innovation, reduce costs and spur consumer demand.  “One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015” details DOE investments in EV infrastructure, research and development and demonstration projects national wide.

The Administration is proposing a three-part strategy that supports electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption through improvements to tax credits in current law, investments in research and development (R&D), and a new competitive program to encourage communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure. 

The key components of this strategy include:

  • Making electric vehicles more affordable with a rebate up to $7,500: The President is proposing to transform the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles into a rebate that will be available to consumers immediately at the point of sale, instead of having to wait for tax returns to be filed.
  • Advancing innovative technologies through new R&D investments: Building on Recovery Act investments, the President's FY2012 budget proposal will include enhanced R&D investments in electric drive, batteries, and energy storage technologies.
  • Rewarding communities that invest in electric vehicle infrastructure through competitive grants: To provide an incentive for communities to invest in EV infrastructure and remove regulatory barriers, the President is proposing a new initiative that will provide grants to up to 30 communities that are prioritizing advanced technology vehicle deployment.

For details of the Administration’s proposed strategy, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/26/vice-president-biden-announces-plan-put-one-million-advanced-technology-

The 11-page report is available at: http://www.energy.gov/news/documents/1_Million_Electric_Vehicle_Report_Final.pdf

Robert Rains covers public policy-related environmental issues for ASME.  He can be reached at rainsr@asme.org

 

 

NSF DIVISION RENAMED TO EMPHASIZE CENTRAL ROLE AS A FEDERAL STATISTICAL AGENCY
The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Science Resources Statistics has a new name: the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). The name change conveys the central role NCSES has in the collection, interpretation, analysis and dissemination of objective data on the science and engineering enterprise and signals the expanded responsibilities of the center.

The new name and responsibilities were mandated by Section 505 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law on January 4th. The name change was formally recognized this week by NSF Director Subra Suresh. "This legislation recognizes the central role NCSES plays as a federal statistical agency," said Suresh. "I'm pleased to have that acknowledgment from the Congress and the administration."

According to the legislation, NCSES will serve as a central federal clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, analysis and dissemination of objective data on science, engineering, technology and research and development. The act also states that the center will perform a variety of other tasks, such as supporting research that uses NCSES data, supporting methodologies in areas related to the work of NCSES, and educating and training researchers in the use of large-scale data sets.

In addition, the legislation expands the responsibilities of the center to include collection of data related to U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and to U.S. competitiveness in science, engineering, technology and research and development.

NCSES is one of 13 federal statistical agencies. Along with a variety of other data collections and research, the center designs, supports, and directs periodic national surveys related to the science and engineering enterprise; analyzes the data; and distributes the published results. To view their reports on the U.S. science and engineering enterprise, visit the NCSES homepage on the NSF website at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/

Melissa Carl covers public policy-related STEM workforce issues for ASME.  She can be reached at carlm@asme.org

 

 

ADVANCE YOUR CAREER AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  APPLY FOR AN ASME FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FELLOWSHIP!
ASME is currently accepting applications for participation in its Federal Government Fellowship Program through which ASME members provide engineering and technical expertise to policy-makers in Congress (Congressional Fellowships) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (ASME Foundation “Swanson” Fellowship). Federal Fellows provide a valuable public service to the nation while at the same time providing engineers with a unique opportunity to participate directly in the public policy making process.
 
Persons interested in serving as a 2011-2012 Congressional Fellow would spend one year in Washington, DC working with the staff of a congressional committee, U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative. Congressional Fellowships are designed to demonstrate the value of engineering-government interaction, bring technical backgrounds and external perspectives to the decision making process in Congress and provide a unique public policy learning experience to the Fellow. Because of the limited number of Congressional Fellowships available, the process is very competitive. The following credentials are encouraged: at least five years of professional experience; an advanced engineering degree; professional engineer registration; and, some public policy experience.
 
The ASME Foundation “Swanson” Fellowship was established in 2010 in recognition of Dr. John A. Swanson, an internationally recognized authority and innovator in the application of finite element methods to engineering. The Swanson Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for an experienced engineer to serve as a Federal Fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where her/his broad, multi-disciplinary background would be applied to finding solutions to technical issues. The Swanson Fellow will confer with public policy professionals to make practical contributions on the most effective use of engineering in federal decision making.  Swanson Fellow applicants should be established engineering researchers/practitioners with an advanced degree in engineering plus approximately ten years of R&D product development experience in an academic setting or in industry. Entrepreneurial experience, R&D commercialization and some understanding of working with federal agencies are also desirable.
 
ASME Fellows will be awarded a stipend of $60,000 for the one year Fellowship.
ASME Federal Fellows typically serve from September through August, but a January through December term is sometimes an option. Applications are accepted annually from December 1st through March 31st. All Fellows must be US citizens and ASME members at the time of application.

To apply for the Congressional Fellowship or the Swanson Fellowship, fill out the online application at https://secure.asme.org/fedgovfellows/appform.cfm  and provide the requested materials. The application deadline is March 31, 2011.
 

 

 

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.

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