In this issue:

 

 

SENATE CONFIRMS ASME FELLOW AS NSF DIRECTOR
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Dr. Subra Suresh, President Barack Obama's nominee for director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), for a six-year term. An ASME Fellow since 1985, Dr. Suresh served as dean of the engineering school and as Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Upon learning of the confirmation, House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) offered the following statement: “I congratulate Dr. Suresh on his appointment. NSF will benefit from having an accomplished engineer at the helm, in particular with experience in some of the fast-growing fields of materials science, nanotechnology and the life sciences.
 
“Dr. Suresh is known as a strong advocate for greater collaboration across fields of engineering and science.  We know that finding solutions to the nation’s greatest scientific and technological challenges increasingly requires strong and sustained interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Suresh’s experience will help NSF—and, with it, the nation — remain on the cutting edge.”

From 2000 to 2006, Dr. Suresh served as the head of the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He joined MIT in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and held joint faculty appointments in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering, as well as the Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Dr. Suresh holds a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, a master's degree from Iowa State University, and earned his ScD from MIT in 1981. Dr. Suresh was nominated by President Obama to become the new NSF director on June 8, and replaces Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., who led the agency from 2004 until he resigned in May of this year.

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

 

 

BINGAMAN, SNOWE INTRODUCE “ADVANCED ENERGY TAX INCENTIVES ACT”
Just prior to the recent Congressional adjournment, U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) introduced a package of energy tax incentives that would, if enacted, stimulate the clean-energy and manufacturing industries.  The measure, S. 3935, draws from several existing energy proposals, and would address building and industrial energy efficiency, domestic manufacturing, new energy technologies and carbon dioxide mitigation.
 
"We must continue to ensure that the Tax Code contains well-designed incentives that will help us transition to an energy efficient economy," explained Bingaman. "Our bill will significantly expand domestic clean energy manufacturing; help American businesses and families reduce their energy use and dependence on fossil fuels; and create thousands of jobs. This is a common-sense, bipartisan proposal that deserves priority consideration."

Among other highlights, S. 3935 would:

  • Enable home and business owners to defray upfront costs of investing in energy-saving technologies, including the introduction of performance-based tax credits for whole home retrofits;
  • Make $2.5 billion in tax credits available to attract manufacturers of technologies that harness clean renewable energy or enhance energy efficiency, and establish a $1 billion tax credit program to enable American manufacturers to undertake energy-saving measures that advance their competitiveness;
  • Facilitate the growth of renewable electricity by creating a tax incentive for energy storage systems, which will enable utilities to deploy intermittent energy sources like wind and solar power while reducing energy demands during peak hours and contributing to an overall more reliable smart grid; and,
  • Retool the tax credit for carbon capture and storage (CCS) to give CCS projects greater certainty.

For more information about S. 3935, please visit: http://bingaman.senate.gov/news/20101006-14.cfm

The entire text of S. 3935 may be viewed at: http://bingaman.senate.gov/policy/aetia_summ.pdf

Senators Bingaman and Snowe hope the measure will be considered before the 111th Congress adjourns in December. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

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

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF “SKILLS FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE”
On October 4th at a meeting of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), President Obama announced the launch of “Skills for America’s Future,” a new industry-led initiative to dramatically improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nation-wide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs, and job placement. 
 
President Obama said, “We want to make it easier to join students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire.  We want to put community colleges and employers together to create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardroom.  Skills for America’s Future would help connect more employers, schools, and other job training providers, and help them share knowledge about what practices work best.  The goal is to ensure there are strong partnerships between growing industries and community college or training programs in every state in the country.”
 
Complementary to the Administration’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, “Skills for America’s Future” will facilitate industry partnerships with community colleges and other training providers in support of the President’s goal of five million more community college graduates and certificates by 2020.  Leading companies, including PG&E, Gap Inc, McDonald’s, United Technologies and Accenture, have already agreed to be a part of this initiative.
 
In addition, the President also announced the establishment of a federal “Skills for America’s Future” Task Force, co-chaired by top-level Administration officials, to coordinate federal efforts and help the private sector better leverage federal training and education efforts.

The following day, Dr. Jill Biden hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges, which highlighted the critical role that community colleges play in developing America’s workforce and reaching the nation’s educational goals. On that day, leaders of “Skills for America’s Future” led a breakout session with industry leaders, community college representatives, organized labor and workforce training experts to highlight best practices and key factors of robust, successful partnerships.
 
For additional information on this initiative, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/10/04/building-skills-america-s-future

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

 

 

NIST STRENGTHENS LABORATORY MISSION FOCUS WITH NEW STRUCTURE
After 20 years with its research components organized largely by scientific disciplines, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is realigning its laboratories according to a mission-based structure. Effective on October 1, 2010, the new structure will allow more day-to-day operational decisions to be made by the major laboratory units and will improve interdisciplinary research by making it easier to form research groups with the needed expertise. The change also will provide greater accountability by ensuring that individual laboratories are responsible for all major products and services that meet NIST’s specific mission authorities, from the research to develop them to the delivery of products and services to customers.

“The goal of this realignment is to ensure that our laboratory managers have a clear and empowered responsibility to meet NIST’s mission of strengthening U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness,” says NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. “It’s about optimizing our organizations to deliver both forefront research results and the related services needed by manufacturers and other customers critical to the U.S. economy.”

The realignment consists of two main components:

  • Replacing the current single deputy director position with three career associate directors responsible for NIST laboratory, extramural, and administrative programs; and,
  • Reducing the number of NIST laboratory units from ten to six.

The new structure includes: two laboratories dedicated to metrology, the Material Measurement Laboratory and the Physical Measurement Laboratory; two dedicated to technology, the Engineering Laboratory and the Information Technology Laboratory; and two user facilities, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Center for Neutron Research.

An organizational chart and additional details about the realignment are available at: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/factsheet/reorg_factsheet.cfm

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

 

 

NIST FINALIZES INITIAL SET OF SMART GRID CYBER SECURITY GUIDELINES, NAMES ADVISORY PANEL
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently issued its first “Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security,” which includes high-level security requirements, a framework for assessing risks, an evaluation of privacy issues at personal residences, and additional information for businesses and organizations to use as they craft strategies to protect the modernizing power grid from attacks, malicious code, cascading errors, and other threats. The product of two formal public reviews and the focus of numerous workshops and teleconferences over the past 17 months, the three-volume set of guidelines is intended to facilitate organization-specific Smart Grid cyber security strategies focused on prevention, detection, response and recovery.

"The development of common Smart Grid standards is a national priority, and these cyber security guidelines are an important step toward that goal," said U.S Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "If we are to truly modernize our electrical grid, we must have electricity producers, distributors and consumers all speaking the same language and all working together to make our grid more secure. Cyber security is an integral part of the grid."

The report advocates a layered—or "defense in depth"—approach to security. Because cyber security threats are diverse and evolving, the report recommends implementing multiple levels of security. The new report also includes:

  • A description of the risk assessment process used to identify the requirements;
  • A discussion of technical cryptographic and key management issues across the scope of Smart Grid systems and devices;
  • Initial recommendations for addressing privacy risks and challenges pertaining to personal residences and electric vehicles;
  • An overview of the process that the CSWG developed to assess whether existing or new standards that enable Smart Grid interoperability also satisfy the high-level security requirements included in the report; and,
  • Summaries of research needs.

All three volumes of Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security (NIST-IR-7628) can be downloaded at: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/PubsNISTIRs.html

In a related development, NIST has named 15 individuals to serve on its newly formed Smart Grid Advisory Committee, which convened its first meeting on Sept. 29, 2010.  The new committee will advise Gallagher on the direction of NIST's Smart Grid-related programs and activities. NIST leads a nationwide effort to expedite development of consensus interoperability standards that enable two-way flows of energy and information on the Smart Grid.  NIST also conducts Smart Grid research and testing programs on cyber security and advanced performance-monitoring devices known as synchrophasors, energy management systems for buildings, and other topics.

A complete listing of the Smart Grid Advisory Committee is available at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/smartgrid_092710.cfm

Robert Rains covers 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 906, Washington, DC 20036-5104.