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Vol. 2011, No. 5 (April 2011)

CAPITOL HILL

House Subcommittee Explores Economic Benefits of Federal Nanotechnology Initiative

THE WHITE HOUSE

Startup America: Reducing Barriers Roundtables: The White House Hits the Road To Talk With Entrepreneurs Across the Country

Diversity Fuels Innovation: A New Startup Alliance for Women in Technology

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

Federal Agencies Report Scientific Integrity Progress

Department of Energy Announces $130 Million for Advanced Research Projects

EPRI Study Examines Radio-Frequency Smart Meter Safety

FERC proposes rule to facilitate electricity market transparency

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

Carbon Management Technology Conference

U.S. STATES

North Carolina Universities Join Together to Create More Startups and Quality Jobs

AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES


CAPITOL HILL

The House and Senate stand in recess from April 15th until May 1st.

House Subcommittee Explores Economic Benefits of Federal Nanotechnology Initiative

The House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education recently held a hearing to examine the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and address the nation’s nanotechnology research and development (R&D) priorities for the future. Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) said, “Nanotechnology represents a great deal of promise for the future of the U.S. economy, both in terms of leaps and bounds in the scientific knowledge base and in terms of potential products and employment opportunities as the technology continues to mature. Many believe it has the potential to be the next industrial revolution leading to significant social and economic impact.”

In the three years since the Science, Space, and Technology Committee last held a nanotechnology focused hearing, we have seen new developments and advances in the field. Witnesses discussed these developments, as well as the coordination, planning, and review mechanisms necessary to ensure that the involved agencies are effectively supporting program and government goals.

The witnesses also discussed the relative importance of environmental, health and safety (EHS) activities associated with nanotechnology. The President's FY12 budget supplement increases spending on EHS by 36 percent over FY 2010 enacted levels. When asked today whether current federal and private research efforts are adequate to address concerns about EHS impacts of nanotechnology, Dr. James Tour, Professor of Chemistry, Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University said increased funding would be better spent on basic research.

Also discussed was the impact of an emerging nano industry on U.S. employment. A recent study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) projects that 6 million nanotechnology workers will be needed worldwide by 2020, with 2 million of those jobs in the United States. Dr. Clayton Teague, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, told the Committee, “This funding has a remarkable return on investment when viewed in terms of expected job creation and the potential for significant economic growth. Nanotechnology will continue to create many jobs requiring college degrees and higher education, but it also will create jobs that can be filled through training and vocational programs, including community colleges and 2-year degrees.”

The NNI, a multi-agency coordinating body responsible for overseeing all federal nanotechnology research, supports the basic research and development of nanotechnology which has become the cornerstone for U.S. leadership in the field. The President’s FY 2012 NNI budget supplement includes funding requests from the 15 federal agencies investing in nanotechnology. The request includes over a 200 million dollar increase from FY10 enacted levels, representing an 11 percent increase. This funding includes significant increases for EHS areas; solar energy conversion; sustainable nanomanufacturing; and nanoelectronics.


THE WHITE HOUSE

Startup America Reducing Barriers Roundtables: The White House Hits the Road To Talk With Entrepreneurs Across the Country

Startup America, the White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the Nation, is traveling across the country to eight cities selected to participate in a major innovation initiative. Senior Obama administration officials will travel to Pittsburgh, Austin, Atlanta, Boston, Boulder,; Durham,  Silicon Valley, and Minneapolis to meet with local entrepreneurs and hear firsthand their ideas and suggestions for reducing barriers and improving regulations to build a more supportive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation. Their goal is to  reduce barriers that are hampering entrepreneurs’ ability to start and scale their businesses.

The White House is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Association to figure out which regulatory barriers are hindering entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs will also help identify solutions. The White House has also created an online tool where anyone can submit, comment, and vote on the new ideas and proposed solutions they think are most important.

At the end of the tour, the White House will gather the feedback and online comments and create a list of the top suggestions. Administration officials will use this input to write a report to the President on how to best reduce barriers and continue to strengthen America’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Of the cities chosen, Pittsburgh, being near and dear to the President’s heart since the G-20 (don’t forget his love of the Steelers) was chosen as a shining example of transformation -  evolving from a one industry town to a region exploding with jobs in advanced manufacturing, biosciences, software, robotics and engineering.

Diversity Fuels Innovation: A New Startup Alliance for Women in Technology

The White House announced a new entrepreneurial alliance organized by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), designed to give high-tech startups the research, practices, and community they need to create and maintain a gender-diverse technical workforce, right from the start.Research shows that tech companies with a higher representation of women in their management teams have a higher return on investment; that startups run by women use less capital and are more likely to survive the transition to established company. Research also shows that including women in a group is more likely to increase its collective intelligence, helping it solve problems better and faster than homogenous groups. Yet the reality is that there are comparatively few female leaders in the business world, and even fewer in IT.

The percentage of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies was a dismal 3% in 2009.

For Fortune 500 companies classified as "professional, scientific, and technical," women held only 10% of corporate officer positions and made up just 11% of board of directors positions in 2008.

Women accounted for 9% of “IT Management” positions among 2008-09 Dice Tech Salary Survey respondents.


FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

Federal Agencies Report Scientific Integrity Progress

Fully 30 executive branch departments, agencies, and offices have responded to OSTP Director John Holdren’s call for progress reports on the development of their respective scientific integrity policies, and six of those have submitted draft or completed policies for comment.  The responses, which were due this week pursuant to Dr. Holdren’s December 17, 2010, Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, include representatives of every executive branch department—a gratifying first step to the assurance of scientific integrity across the executive branch as called for by President Obama.

Department of Energy Announces $130 Million for Advanced Research Projects

20 APR: U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that up to $130 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will be made available to develop five new program areas that could spark critical breakthrough technologies and secure America's energy future. ARPA-E's 4th round of funding focuses on rare earth alternatives and breakthroughs in biofuels, thermal storage, grid controls, and solar power electronics. The funding opportunity announcement comes two months after ARPA-E announced six of its projects have secured more than $100 million in outside private capital investment - indications that the business community is eager to invest in truly innovative solutions to the country's energy challenges.

EPRI Study Examines Radio-Frequency Smart Meter Safety

Radio-frequency (RF) exposure levels from one type of smart meter, even at close range, fall substantially below the protective limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the general public, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The report presents findings that serve as a valuable first step in characterizing RF exposures associated with smart meter technology. The full EPRI technical report (An Investigation of Radiofrequency Fields Associated with the Itron Smart Meter 1021126) detailing the study is available on the EPRI website. A summary report (Radio-Frequency Exposure Levels from Smart Meters: A Case Study of One Model” 1022270) is also available. To view these documents click on the document title or go to www.epri.com and search for the document ID number.

FERC proposes rule to facilitate electricity market transparency

21 APR: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed to enhance electricity market transparency by requiring certain market participants that are not subject to Section 205 of the Federal Power Act to file electric quarterly reports (EQRs). The proposal would give FERC and the public a more complete picture about how prices are established or formed by bilateral transactions in the wholesale electricity markets. It also would improve FERC’s ability to monitor wholesale electricity markets for market power and manipulation. FERC is taking this step under authority granted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Comments on the NOPR (RM10-12-000) are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

IEEE-USA In The News

Recent IEEE-USA Letters to Congress & Administration

IEEE-USA Press Releases

Public Policy Priority Issues (111th Congress, 2nd Session, 2010) Committees of IEEE volunteers draft IEEE-USA's public policy priorities, as well as all of IEEE-USA's position statements, and IEEE-USA's Board of Directors approves them each year. IEEE members interested in becoming involved with the development
of the priorities, or working towards their implementation, should contact IEEE-USA.

Public Policy Position Statements on issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE's U.S. members. The statements make specific public policy recommendations for the consideration of Congress, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary, representatives of State and Local Government, and other interested groups and individuals, including IEEE members.

IEEE-USA E-Books - To see the latest E-Books, visit our online catalog which includes the 2010 IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefits Survey, the 2010 Profile of IEEE Consultants and two new GovDocs.

Have an Idea For an IEEE-USA E-Book? - If you've got an idea for an e-book that will educate your fellow IEEE members on a particular topic of expertise, e-mail your e-book queries and ideas to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia Stelluto.

Carbon Management Technology Conference - IEEE-USA join Engineering Founder Societies in Sponsoring 1st Carbon Management Technology Conference, Which Is Set for 7-9 Feb. 2012 in Orlando, FL.


U.S. STATES

North Carolina Universities Join Together to Create More Startups and Quality Jobs

When the White House launched the Startup America initiative less than 90 days ago, the President issued a call to action to the private sector, challenging leaders of companies, universities, and foundations to dramatically accelerate the success of America’s high-growth entrepreneurs. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was among the first to answer this call to action, with its commitment to a five-year, five-region expansion of Blackstone LaunchPad, a successful program that transforms university career centers to encourage entrepreneurship as a career path for undergrads, graduate students, and alumni. 

Stateline.org - If you like to keep up with what's going on in state politics, StateLine.org provides a good overview of the activities in all 50 state legislatures. Stateline.org's annual report on state trends and policy, "State of the States 2009" is now available. The report is full of helpful graphics and maps, in addition to reports on the most significant developments in the 50 states.


AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

National Science Foundation Recent opportunities include:

Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I Solicitation FY-2011 (Release 2) (SBIR) - The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting Federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses. Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): June 10, 2011. Proposals submitted outside the window of May 10, 2011 - June 10, 2011 will be returned without review.

Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (MSPRF) - The purpose of the Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (MSPRF) is to support future leaders in the mathematical sciences by facilitating their participation in postdoctoral research environments that will have maximal impact on their future scientific development. There are two options for awardees: Research Fellowship and Research Instructorship. Awards will support research in areas of the mathematical sciences, including applications to other disciplines.

Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) - Computation is accepted as the third pillar supporting innovation and discovery in science and engineering and is central to NSF's vision of a Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) as described in http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2010/nsf10015/nsf10015.jsp). Software is an integral enabler of computation, experiment and theory and a primary modality for realizing the CIF21 vision. Scientific discovery and innovation are advancing along fundamentally new pathways opened by development of increasingly sophisticated software. Software is also directly responsible for increased scientific productivity and significant enhancement of researchers' apabilities. In order to nurture, accelerate and sustain this critical mode of scientific progress, NSF has established the Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) program, with the overarching goal of transforming innovations in research and education into sustained software resources that are an integral part of the cyberinfrastructure.

AAAS GrantsNet Express - A weekly American Association for the Advancement of Science listing of science funding opportunities from private foundations and organizations, and new U.S. government grant announcements in the sciences. AAAS will send GrantsNet by e-mail to AAAS member subscribers.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solicitations - The majority of EERE financial opportunities are for business, industry, and universities.

Grants.gov - The President's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda established grants.gov as a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs. The site provides access to approximately $400 billion in annual awards. Most agencies, such as the DOE's Office of Science, use only grants.gov to list all funding opportunities. Other funding opportunities of interest include the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and NASA.

AAAS: Communicating Science, Tools for Scientists & Engineers - Scientists and engineers who foster information-sharing and respect between science and the public are essential for the public communication of and engagement with science. Although traditional scientific training typically does not prepare scientists and engineers to be effective communicators outside of academia, funding agencies are increasingly encouraging researchers to extend beyond peer-reviewed publishing and communicate their results directly to the greater public. In response to this need in science communications, the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology has partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide resources for scientists and engineers, both online and through in-person workshops to help researchers communicate more broadly with the public.


REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

Government Accountability Office

Information Technology: Continued Improvements in Investment Oversight and Management Can Yield Billions in Savings GAO-11-511T, Apr 12, 2011 Summary (HTML)   Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 20 pages)   Accessible Text

International Space Station (ISS) - Ongoing Assessments for Life Extension Appear to be Supported GAO-11-519R, Apr 11, 2011 Summary (HTML)   Full Report (PDF, 39 pages)   Accessible Text

H-1B Visa Program: Multifaceted Challenges Warrant Re-examination of Key Provisions GAO-11-505T, Mar 31, 2011 Summary (HTML)   Full Report (PDF, 17 pages)   Accessible Text

Department of Energy: Advanced Technology Vehicle Loan Program Implementation Is Under Way, but Enhanced Technical Oversight and Performance Measures Are Needed GAO-11-145, Feb 28, 2011 Summary (HTML)   Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 39 pages)   Accessible Text   Recommendations (HTML)

Congressional Research Service

The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11

The Japanese Nuclear Incident: Technical Aspects

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2012

U.S. Energy: Overview and Key Statistics

Patent Reform in the 112th Congress: Innovation Issues

African American Members of the United States Congress: 1870-2011


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What's New @ IEEE-USA's Eye on Washington highlights important federal legislative and regulatory developments that affect U.S. engineers and their careers. In addition to this biweekly newsletter, subscribers receive legislative bulletins and action alerts on IEEE-USA priority issues, including: retirement security, employment benefits, research & development funding, computers and information policy, immigration reform, intellectual property protection and privacy of health/medical information.

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