In this issue:

 

 

ASME'S "HEROES OF ENGINEERING" ON NATIONAL MALL
On October 23-24, 2010, the inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival, hosted by Lockheed Martin, was held on the National Mall in downtown Washington, D.C.  Over 1,500 free, interactive booths drew about 500,000 people to learn about topics related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  ASME's booth featured its new comic book exhibit entitled, "Heroes of Engineering."

Developed as a comic book series for ASME's 125th Anniversary by ASME's Center of Public Awareness, "Heroes" features twelve engineers whose contributions and technological achievements have significantly influenced our world.  The exhibit was originally debuted at the New York City Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in March of 2010.

Given Larry Bock's remarks in June of 2010, ASME's booth was quite appropriate.  Bock, an entrepreneur interested in STEM education and the USA Science and Engineering Festival's main organizer, called on the science and engineering community to find and celebrate "heroes in science and engineering" at the festival and afterwards.

Bock said, "If we wonder why there are no heroes for children to emulate in science and engineering, consider this: As a society, we don't celebrate these fields, we don't provide students with adequate interaction with role models in such professions, and we fail to effectively demonstrate to kids how important science and engineering are - namely their roles in saving lives, curing disease, keeping us safe and making our lives richer each day.  If we hope to increase the number our students entering STEM fields, thereby ensuring that America remains globally competitive in technological innovation, these deficiencies need to be turned around - and soon."

For more information about the inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival, please visit: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/

To read Bock's full remarks, please visit: http://scienceblogs.com/usasciencefestival/2010/06/call_to_action_finding_heroes.php

For more information about ASME's pre-college activities, please contact Amira El-Ghobashy at elghobashya@asme.org

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

 

 

UK SCIENCE FUNDING SET ASIDE, BUT STEEP CUTS REMAIN
As the US Congress continues its struggle to cope with mounting federal budget deficits, the British government announced its plans for massive government spending cuts last week.  Most UK government departments will face cuts of 25% or more over the next four years, but UK leaders announced that science funding would continue to receive special consideration given its impact on economic development.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne defended the rational for setting science apart in midst of deep cuts to defense, pensions, and other national support programs, noting that, "when money is short we should ruthlessly prioritize those areas of public spending which are most likely to support economic growth, including investments in our transport and green energy infrastructure, our science base and the skills and education of citizens."

Under the new plan, core research funding for Britain's universities will be frozen at 4.6 billion (GBP) over four years.  By the time the freeze is lifted, research funding in 2015 will be 10% lower than current levels when inflation is taken into account.  Science Minister David Willetts stressed that the details of how the remaining funding will be divided have not been determined, but said that the rough numbers would include:

  • 2.75bn (GBP) for research councils. 
  • 1.6bn (GBP) in funding for universities based on the quality of their research.
  • 100m (GBP) for national academies such as the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Even so, some UK research projects are at more risk than others. The future of UK collaboration in international projects such as the Large Hadron Collider and the European Southern Observatory will be dependent upon how much funding research councils such as the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) receive compared to major entities such as the UK Medical Research Council.  Chancellor Osborne has already said that the Medical Research Council will have its funding maintained in real terms - inevitably leading to more budget cuts for the other research councils.

For more information, see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/oct/19/spending-review-science-budget-spared

Paul Fakes covers public policy-related R&D issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

EPA, DOT RELEASE PLAN TO SET NATION'S FIRST FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS FOR HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS AND BUSES
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses, a program projected to reduce GHG emissions by about 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program's first five years.

"These new standards are another step in our work to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles that will improve our environment and strengthen our economy," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said.

"Through new fuel-efficiency standards for trucks and buses, we will not only reduce transportation's environmental impact, we'll reduce the cost of transporting freight," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is a win-win-win for the environment, businesses and the American consumer."

EPA and DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are proposing new standards for three categories of heavy trucks:

  • Combination tractors would be required to meet engine and vehicle standards that begin in the 2014 model year and achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel consumption by the 2018 model year;
  • Heavy-duty pickups and vans would be required to meet separate gasoline and diesel truck standards, which phase in starting in the 2014 model year and achieve up to a 10 percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent reduction for diesel vehicles by the 2018 model year (12 and 17 percent respectively, if accounting for air conditioning leakage); and,
  • Vocational vehicles would be required to meet engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year which would achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by the 2018 model year.

Overall, NHTSA and EPA estimate that the heavy-duty national program would provide $41 billion in net benefits over the lifetime of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles.  EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

The proposal and information about how to submit comments is at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm and http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.

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

 

 

DEFENSE ANNOUNCES NEW FIGHT TO IMPROVE ENERGY USAGE IN BUILDINGS
This week, the Department of Defense issued a new Memorandum for Sustainable Design and Development Policy Update (Environmental and Energy Performance) (Revision), seeking to reign in one of the largest energy users in the world.  This document's focus was on ensuring the efficient design of Army facilities to enhance sustainability, reduce energy consumption, and improve energy independence.

"High-performance buildings are critical to cost effective life cycle management of our infrastructure and national energy security," said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment Katherine Hammack. "Maintaining access to vital resources, including energy, water and the environment, is vital for accomplishing the Army's global missions."

Hammack also issued a Memorandum on the Utilization of Efficient Lighting to reduce energy consumption and reduce adverse impacts to the environment. The memo establishes policy and guidance to use only efficient light bulbs that meet standards outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) requires the manufacture of energy efficient light bulbs, with efficiency standards phasing in between 2012 and 2014. It also requires the use of energy efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs in buildings constructed by the General Services Administration.

Incorporation of sustainable design and development principles, following guidance as detailed in American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 189.1, will reduce water and energy consumption, optimize energy efficiencies and performance, and reduce negative impacts on the natural environment. Through strategies such as siting, cool roofs, solar water heating, storm water management and water efficiency, the Army will reduce its impact on the environment. Options will be investigated and documented for each project to evaluate the Army's ability to utilize renewable and alternative power sources on its installations in a fashion that is compatible with training missions.

For more information on DOD's policies to reduce energy consumption, please visit: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=61442

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

 

 

$28 MILLION AWARDED TO EXPLORE SUSTAINABILITY FOR ENERGY AND BUILDINGS
NSF's Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) also recently announced 14 grants for fiscal year (FY) 2010, awarding nearly $28 million to 62 investigators at 24 institutions. Over the next four years, teams of researchers will pursue transformative, fundamental research in two areas of great national need: storing energy from renewable sources; and, engineering sustainable buildings.

EFRI research teams will pursue creative new approaches to making large-scale energy storage efficient and economical. They aim to construct capacitors and regenerative fuel cells with unprecedented capabilities to harness the sun's thermal energy, to produce chemical fuel on demand, and to trap off-shore wind as compressed air. "These four projects take radically different approaches to storing excess energy from intermittent sources," said Geoffrey Prentice, lead EFRI program officer, "and success in any one of them could guide the development of new processes for large-scale energy storage."

A second set of EFRI research teams will investigate the critical flows and fluxes of buildings--power, heat, light, water, air and occupants--to create new paradigms for the design, construction, and operation of our homes and workplaces. These researchers aim to improve the ability to predict and control building energy performance and environmental impacts, and to design systems that respond intelligently, in real-time, to changing conditions and to occupant input and needs. The investigations will pursue methods for reducing water consumption; for distributed, integrated approaches to renewable energy production, storage, and use; and, for moderating temperature shifts through passive building technologies and systems.

"These awards are significant in the extent to which the research teams are multidisciplinary," said lead EFRI program officer Richard Fragaszy. "Engineers, architects, and physical and social scientists are pooling their expertise to conduct the basic research needed to design and construct future homes and offices that will greatly reduce reliance on fossil fuels and demand for potable water, while improving the health and productivity of their occupants."

Summaries of the four Renewable Energy Storage (RESTOR) projects may be viewed at: http://www.nsf.gov/eng/efri/fy10awards_RESTOR.jsp

More information about the ten Science in Energy and Environmental Design (SEED) Projects is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/eng/efri/fy10awards_SEED.jsp

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

 

 

HARRINGTON SWORN IN AS NEW NNSA DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR
On October 25th, Anne M. Harrington was sworn in as the new National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. Ms. Harrington will manage NNSA's $2.7 billion nuclear nonproliferation program in more than 100 countries to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world, stop nuclear smuggling, and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"Anne Harrington brings more than two decades of nonproliferation and threat reduction experience to this position and is the perfect choice to lead the world's largest nonproliferation program," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "Her experience in government, non-profit and private sectors both domestically and internationally are tremendous assets in helping to implement the unprecedented nuclear security agenda President Obama outlined in his 2009 speech in Prague."

Ms. Harrington most recently served as Director of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control from 2005 to 2010. Prior to her service at the National Academy, Ms. Harrington served at the U.S. Department of State as an expert on nonproliferation and cooperative threat reduction, and was responsible for developing policy and implementing programs aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile expertise in Russia and Eurasia.

Ms. Harrington graduated with a bachelor's of arts degree from St. Lawrence University, an M.A. from the University of Michigan, and an M.S. from the National Defense University National War College.

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

 

 

USPTO RELEASES 2010-2015 STRATEGIC PLAN
Earlier this year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released its strategic plan for fiscal years (FY) 2010-2015. The USPTO strategic plan was created to help focus the USPTO's energy, to ensure that members of the organization are working toward the same goals, and to assess and adjust the organization's direction in response to a changing environment.

The FY 2010-22015 strategic plan sets forth the agency's mission-focused goals, as well as the proposed objectives to meet those goals.  The plan is designed to:

  • Strengthen the capacity of the USPTO;
  • Improve the quality of issued patents and registered trademarks; and,
  • Shorten the time it takes to get a patent. 

When fully implemented, the plan will enhance and accelerate the innovation and job growth needed to transform the U.S. economy, foster competitiveness and drive the creation and growth of U.S. businesses. This plan was developed with input from USPTO's public advisory committees, stakeholders, the public, and employees.   The 60-page FY 2010-2015 strategic plan may be downloaded from http://www.uspto.gov/about/stratplan/USPTO_2010-2015_Strategic_Plan.pdf The accompanying two page FY 2010-2015 strategic framework highlights document is available at http://www.uspto.gov/about/stratplan/USPTO_2010-2015_Strategic_Framework.pdf

Questions regarding the strategic plan should be addressed to strategicplan@uspto.gov

 

 

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 906, Washington, DC 20036-5104.