In this issue:

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA MEETS WITH PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON JOBS AND COMPETITIVENESS AT THE WHITE HOUSE

On January 17th, President Obama convened a meeting at the White House with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to discuss initiatives and policies to strengthen the economy, promote and accelerate job growth and bolster America’s competitiveness around the world.  At that meeting, the Council presented ideas to spur job growth which are included in a new Jobs Council report available on the Council’s website at www.jobs-council.com.

As reported in the January 17th, 2012 Edition of Capitol Update, the new Jobs Council report focuses on new recommendations from three new streams of work focusing on long-term competitiveness:

  • Invest in Our Future with Education and Innovation: This strategy is focused on ensuring Americans have the right education and skills to realize their full potential, and cultivating a vibrant innovation ecosystem that supports new ideas.
  • Build on Our Strengths in Manufacturing and Energy: This strategy is focused on the manufacturing sector and how the U.S. can scale up and support clean energy while responsibly accessing unconventional supplies.
  • Play to Win through Regulatory and Tax Reform: This strategy is focused on instituting longer term regulatory and corporate tax reform to support job creation.

The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness was created to provide non-partisan advice to the President on ways to strengthen the economy and ensure the competitiveness of the United States.  The Jobs Council is made up of representatives of various sectors of the economy who offer diverse perspectives from employers and workers in the private sector on how the Federal Government can best foster growth, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation.

The Jobs Council held its first meeting at the White House on February 24th 2011, focusing on finding new ways to promote growth, encourage hiring, educate and train U.S. workers to compete globally, and attract the best jobs and businesses to the United States. The Council has held two additional meetings – in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina in June and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in October.

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

 

 

REPORT: U.S. LOST ONE QUARTER OF HIGH-TECH MANUFACTURING JOBS IN A DECADE

The United States remains the global leader in supporting science and technology (S&T) research and development, but only by a slim margin that could soon be overtaken by rapidly increasing Asian investments in knowledge-intensive economies. So suggest trends released in a new report by the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body for the National Science Foundation (NSF), on the overall status of the science, engineering and technology workforce, education efforts and economic activity in the United States and abroad.

According to the new Indicators 2012, the largest global S&T gains occurred in the so-called "Asia-10"--China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Thailand--as those countries integrate S&T into economic growth. Between 1999 and 2009, for example, the U.S. share of global research and development (R&D) dropped from 38 percent to 31 percent, whereas it grew from 24 percent to 35 percent in the Asia region during the same time. In China alone, R&D growth increased a stunning 28 percent in a single year (2008-2009), propelling it past Japan and into second place behind the United States.

That means that the United States lost 28 percent of its high-technology manufacturing jobs over the last decade, as the nation’s rapidly shrinking lead in science and technology in the global marketplace was accompanied by a toll on U.S. high-tech jobs. U.S. employment in high-technology manufacturing reached a peak in 2000, with 2.5 million jobs. The recession of 2001 provided the first big hit causing “substantial and permanent” job losses, the report said. By the end of the decade, more than a quarter of the jobs were gone.

The relative shift of R&D to Asia also can be seen in overall expenditures. The United States still does more R&D than any other single country, spending $400 billion in 2009. But, for the first time, the Asian region has nearly matched the United States, with R&D expenditures of $399 billion.

NSF has launched a number of new initiatives designed to better position the United States globally and at home by enhancing international collaborations, improving education and establishing new partnerships between NSF-supported researchers and those in industry, for example:

  • Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) fosters interaction among scientists, engineers and educators around the globe. Because S&T excellence exists in many parts of the world, scientific advances can be accelerated when scientists and engineers work together across international borders.
  • The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, a public-private partnership, will connect NSF-funded scientific research with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities to help create a stronger national ecosystem for innovation.
  • NSF investment in advanced manufacturing holds great potential for significant short-term and long-term economic impact by promising entirely new classes and families of products that were previously unattainable, including emerging opportunities in cyber-physical systems, advanced robotics, nano-manufacturing, and sensor- and model-based smart manufacturing.
  • Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability, or (SEES), is a cross-disciplinary approach to sustainability science designed to spark innovations for tomorrow's clean energy.

The complete report, released on January 17th, may be viewed at: http://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=122859&org=NSF&from=news

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

 

 

TEXAS REP. OLSON INTRODUCES "DOMESTIC ALTERNATIVE FUELS ACT" TO ALLOW ETHANOL PRODUCED FROM DOMESTIC NATURAL GAS AND COAL TO BE INCLUDED IN FRS

Representative Pete Olson (R-TX) last week introduced H.R. 3773, the “Domestic Alternative Fuels Act,” which would allow ethanol produced from domestic natural gas and coal to be included under the Federal Renewable Fuels Standard (FRS). The bipartisan measure currently has five co-sponsors [Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Charlie Gonzales (D-TX)] and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The bill would amend the Renewable Fuel Program in section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act to allow domestic alternative fuel to be used to satisfy a portion of the required applicable volume of renewable fuel.  The provision would include ethanol made from coal, petroleum coke or natural gas.
 
The "Domestic Alternative Fuels Act" is intended to allow those sources to compete with corn-based ethanol and stop an escalation in food and feedstock price. The bill is intended to help create a new category for domestic fuels in the renewable fuel standard, by allowing U.S. EPA to set volume obligations to meet the standard. Under the RFS, the United States must produce 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022 with 15 billion gallons coming from corn (Please see the December 20, 2007 Edition of Capitol Update).  In June 2011, the EPA reduced its annual cellulosic ethanol volume mandate for 2012 to 12.9 million gallons.  At the end of 2011, the 45-cent blenders’ tax credit, long-defended by ethanol producers as necessary for the industry, quietly expired.  A GAO report had estimated the cost of the credit to be roughly $6 billion per year.         

To read the entire press release, go to:  http://olson.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid= 129&sectiontree=21,129&itemid=901

To read the legislation, go to http://thomas.loc.gov, and search by either bill number of bill title.

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

 

 

NIST SBIR PROGRAM SOLICITING PROPOSALS TO SOLVE MANUFACTURING AND IT CHALLENGES

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking American innovators and entrepreneurs to help solve technological problems and develop NIST technologies into marketable products. The NIST Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is seeking to fund proposals that address specific challenges in the fields of advanced manufacturing and information technology and cybersecurity (including communications-related technologies).

Intended to determine if the proposed research is feasible and to gauge how well the awardee performs that research, SBIR phase 1 awards provide up to $90,000 over a performance period of seven months. Awardees that successfully complete their phase 1 research projects will be eligible to apply for phase 2 funding to further develop the technology.

The NIST 2012 SBIR solicitation names 12 specific technologies for development. In the category of Manufacturing, they include:

  • Development of a Microcompressor for Miniaturized Cryocooling;
  • High-Precision, Random Profile Roughness Specimens;
  • Low-cost Stabilized Diode Lasers for Displacement Measurements;
  • Non-contact Microwave Measurement of Electrical Properties of Nanofiber Materials;
  • Power Meter for EUV Lithography Sources;
  • Query-based Geometric Interoperability for Advanced Manufacturing;
  • Silicon Ion Source for Isotopically Enriched Deposition; and,
  • X-ray Chemical Shift Mapping for Industrial Materials Analysis.

In the category of Information Technology and Cybersecurity, specific technologies include:

  • High-Power, High-Speed Photodiodes;
  • Microfabricated High-Frequency Connectors for Millimeter-Wave Technology;
  • Ultrafast Photodetector for Probing Coplanar Waveguide Electrical Circuits; and,
  • Web Services-Biometric Devices (WS-BD) Conformant Handheld Fingerprint Sensor.

The SBIR program identifies and solicits proposals in subtopics that fall within NIST’s mission and allow collaboration between NIST scientists and the SBIR awardees whenever possible. In this year’s solicitation, there are three technology transfer (TT) subtopics: inventions and technologies started at NIST that have commercial potential but require more work to be finished products/services for the U.S. marketplace. In order to ensure a greater strategic alignment between the SBIR program and NIST’s laboratory research program, the SBIR topics are based on the investment priorities identified in the NIST Programmatic Plan (refer to:  www.nist.gov/director/planning/planning.cfm).

In the interest of competitive fairness, communication with NIST concerning a specific technical topic or subtopic during the open solicitation period is not allowed, with the exception of the public discussion group at www.nist.gov/sbir. All questions and responses will be publicly, though anonymously, posted on the discussion group website.

Read the 2012 SBIR proposal solicitation, available at http://go.usa.gov/NhU for a full explanation of the SBIR process, rules and the specific challenges the proposals should address. Unsolicited proposals, i.e. proposals that do not address the challenges outlined in the SBIR proposal solicitation, will not be accepted. The solicitation closes March 12th.

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

 

 

PREPUBLICATION REPORT ON STEM WORKPLACE NEEDS FOR THE U.S. NOW AVAILABLE

“Report of a Workshop on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Defense Industrial Base” is the summary of a workshop held August 11, 2011 as part of an 18-month study of the issue. This book:

  • Assesses the STEM capabilities that the Department of Defense (DOD) needs in order to meet its goals, objectives, and priorities;
  • Assesses whether the current DOD workforce and strategy will meet those needs; and,
  • Identifies and evaluates options and recommend strategies that the department could use to help meet its future STEM needs.

The report was authored by the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Workforce Needs for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Defense Industrial Base; National Academy of Engineering, and the National Research Council of the National Academies.

Prepublication copies of the 82-page report may be ordered at:  http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13318

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

 

 

SUMMER UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AT NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now accepting applications for the 2012 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) programs at its Gaithersburg, MD, and Boulder, CO, campuses. The programs provide research opportunities for undergraduate students to work with internationally known NIST scientists and gain exposure to cutting-edge research.

The SURF programs are supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and each summer, more than 100 students spend about 11 weeks at one of the NIST sites, meeting peers and gaining valuable hands-on research experience. In 2012, NIST expects it will host approximately 78 students at Gaithersburg and about 18 at Boulder.
The fellowship programs are open to colleges and universities located in the U.S. and its territories with degree-granting programs in computer science, mathematics, materials science, chemistry, biology, engineering, and/or physics. Applications are submitted by the schools, not the students, so students wishing to participate need to contact their college or university to let them know they wish to participate.

Nominated undergraduate students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a technical major. New applicants must be enrolled to continue their undergraduate education for fall 2011, but previous SURF participants who will graduate in spring 2011 are also eligible. Participants receive stipends and housing and travel allotments (as needed). The programs are expected to run between May and August, with some accommodations possible for alternate school schedules.

At the Gaithersburg campus, students can work in the areas of nanoscale science, engineering, computer science, mathematics, materials science, chemistry, biology, neutron research and/or physics. In Boulder, SURF students can participate in research in computer science, mathematics, materials science, chemistry, biology, engineering and/or physics.

Applications should be submitted through the Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) website under either Federal Funding Opportunity code 2012-NIST-SURF-G-01 (Gaithersburg site) or 2012-NIST-SURF-B-01 (Boulder site). Applications must be received no later than 5 PM EST, February 15, 2012, for Gaithersburg and 5 PM MST for Boulder.

For more information on the SURF Gaithersburg program, visit: http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=134053

For more information on the SURF Boulder program, visit http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&oppId=134213

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

 

 

USPTO SEEKING NOMINATIONS FOR 2012 NATIONAL MEDAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is currently seeking nominations for the 2012 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, formerly known as the National Medal of Technology,  the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the President of the United States on America's leading innovators. The Medal is awarded annually to individuals, teams (up to four individuals), companies or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental and social well-being.  By highlighting the national importance of technological innovation, the Medal also seeks to inspire future generations of Americans to prepare for and pursue technical careers to keep America at the forefront of global technology and economic leadership.

The purpose of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation is to recognize those who have made lasting contributions to America's competitiveness, standard of living, and quality of life through technological innovation, and to recognize those who have made substantial contributions to strengthening the Nation's technological workforce.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation Nomination Evaluation Committee, a distinguished, independent committee appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, reviews and evaluates the merit of all candidates nominated through an open, competitive solicitation process. The Committee makes its recommendations for Medal candidates to the Secretary of Commerce, who in turn makes recommendations to the President for final selection. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates are announced by the White House and the Department of Commerce once the Medalists are notified of their selection.

A nomination form and detailed information about submission requirements can be downloaded from http://www.uspto.gov/about/nmti/guidelines.jsp.  All completed nominations must be submitted to the USPTO by 5 PM ET, March 31, 2012.

Robert Rains handles public policy-related standards 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.

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