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Vol. 2010, No. 8 (20 August 2010)

CAPITOL HILL

Status of COMPETES Legislation

House Discusses Progress in Smart Grid Standards

THE WHITE HOUSE

PCAST Convenes to Discuss Scientific Diplomacy, Gives Go-Ahead to Health IT Report

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

Nanotechnology Innovation Summit Announced

Public Input Sought on Balancing Cyber Security With Innovation

Public Comment Sought on Creation of a National Cybersecurity Roadmap

DOE Seeking Comments on Energy Education and Technical Training Efforts

NASA Chief Technologist's Open Letter to Aspiring Students on Grand Challenges

DARPA Outlines New R&D Privacy Principles

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

IEEE Green Technologies Conference Seeks Technical Papers

Investigations into Unintended Acceleration Should Include Engineers

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Department of Homeland Security Officials Headline Speakers at IEEE Homeland Security Conference

U.S. STATES

AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

IEEE-USA 2012 Government Fellowships

REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES


CAPITOL HILL

Status of COMPETES Legislation

22 JULY: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed its version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (or America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Reauthorization Act of 2010). The committee considered COMPETES (S. 3605) along with two other bills related to offshore oil drilling and the reallocation of radio spectrum.

COMPETES establishes and extends specified science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as engineering, research, and training programs, and establishes a green chemistry basic research program and a green manufacturing and construction initiative. The bill also authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2011- FY2013 for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The committee held little discussion about the COMPETES legislation before passing it. Chairman and bill sponsor, John Rockefeller (D-WV) explained that the committee staff had spent hours working out the details on various amendments "to try to make people happy." The Senator noted that Congress passed the original 2007 legislation in response to the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report. That law expired this month. Rockefeller also said COMPETES "continues key investments in research and development and STEM education - drivers of America's economy and keys to our competitiveness in the global marketplace. A strong high-tech workforce is fundamental to addressing the challenges of the 21st century – from developing clean sources of energy to discovering cures for diseases. The small investments we make now will pay incredible dividends down the road."

Despite two unsuccessful attempts during which Republicans faulted the bill for authorizing what they termed excessive spending, the full House passed their version of COMPETES (H.R. 5116) on May 28th. The Senate received the House bill which now awaits action in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. At this point, we will be waiting until after Labor Day since Congress has adjourned the summer recess lasting until September 10. And with Senate floor time being scarce, we do not know when or if the bill will be considered. All pending legislation is now at the mercy of budget bills and November elections.

Read some of IEEE-USA's communications to Congress regarding the COMPTETES bills:

23 JUNE: Letter to U.S. Senate urge consideration of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (HR 5116).

19 MAY: Letter to House of Representatives urging approval of the revised America COMPETES Act (H.R. 5325) on remittal from the House Science and Technology Committee.

19 MAY: Coalition letter (Task Force on American innovation) to key House/Senate leaders supporting reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act as a bipartisan measure.

House Discusses Progress in Smart Grid Standards

The Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing on the development of the interoperability standards that will enable the growth of a reliable, efficient, and secure smart grid.

"Our nation's electrical grid has often been called the biggest machine on Earth. With the addition of smart appliances, solar roofing shingles, and networks of communication systems, the grid will become bigger and more complex," said Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR). "This scale and complexity makes it imperative that those involved in developing and using the smart grid share a common technical view—or framework—of the system."

The smart grid has a two-way communication network to help consumers and utilities better manage electric infrastructure. With smart grid technologies, customers have access to real-time data on the price of electricity. Given the smart grid's highly interconnected nature, standards are essential to ensuring that grid components will work together. As directed by the Energy Independence and Security Act, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is coordinating efforts to develop a common framework and interoperability standards. These guidelines are crucial to encouraging widespread adoption of energy-saving technologies, such as rooftop solar panels and smart appliances, as well as encouraging utilities to invest in smart grid infrastructure.

Witnesses - including IEEE member and former IEEE Standards Association President, Dr. George Arnold - from NIST joined private and public stakeholders to update the Subcommittee on progress in standards development. Since 2007, NIST has brought together more than 1,500 interested parties—including power generators, utility regulators, high-tech companies, and software developers—to identify gaps and coordinate efforts to develop new standards.  NIST has created 16 Priority Action Plans to focus on specific needs, such as communications, metering, and support infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. NIST also created a 300-member task group to focus solely on cybersecurity protection measures. Committee members and witnesses discussed the importance of individual privacy and securities, noting that the energy usage data that characterizes the smart grid could also reveal such personal habits as when people shower, run a washing machine, or are in their home. Members also stressed the importance of NIST continuing to meet its ambitious timelines for standards development while maintaining quality, especially given the large scale of investment in the project from both private funding and the Recovery Act.

For information on IEEE's role in SmartGrid, please visit: http://smartgrid.ieee.org/


THE WHITE HOUSE

PCAST Convenes to Discuss Scientific Diplomacy, Gives Go-Ahead to Health IT Report

The sixth meeting of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) featured an extensive discussion on science diplomacy, and updates on several pending PCAST reports. Bruce Alberts, Science Envoy to Indonesia and past President of the National Academy of Sciences, presented an overview of the science envoy missions, outlining four challenges:

(1) Design a role for science envoys that dramatically demonstrates the potential and effectiveness of science diplomacy;
(2) Create a science envoy "toolkit" and a set of principles to facilitate future efforts;
(3) Help the US Government create a structure that optimally supports the science envoy mission (e.g. better synergy between agencies; science attaches in every major embassy); and
(4) Convince skeptics that there should be similar science envoys in all major nations, in addition to those that are Muslim-majority.

As Science Envoy to Indonesia, Alberts has focused on encouraging expansion of Indonesian science and technology capacity, placing an emphasis on connecting US and Indonesian scientists and institutions. He has had initial success with the establishment of an annual "Frontiers of Science" meeting with 40 US and 40 Indonesian future science leaders, and a new US program to support university exchanges. Alberts also said that PCAST should examine the US' role in building local merit-based institutions abroad, and suggested a report—Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology—as a guide.

Other presenters included:

Elias Zerhouni, former Director of the National Institutes of Health and current Science Envoy to Algeria. Zerhouni Stated that the science envoy program is already making strides and the international science community views the Obama Administration as "much more aligned, and much more synergistic in crystallizing efforts around science and technology."  Personal creditability is also said to be key, as Zerhouni explained. Skepticism around US outreach demands that science envoys have a strong background in the sciences and significant personal relationships in target countries.

Ahmed Zewail, current Science Envoy to Egypt and PCAST member. Zewail argued for a new way of international partnership focused around science and stated that he was surprised by a lack of science expertise at US embassies, a hindrance to science diplomacy. (Calling all IEEE US members to serve as Engineering and Diplomacy Fellows!)

PCAST's anticipated report on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is expected in early September. The next PCAST meeting is September 2nd. Meetings are webcast and there is opportunity for public comment.


FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

Nanotechnology Innovation Summit Announced

The 25 federal agencies comprising the National Nanotechnology Initiative will hold a Nanotechnology Innovation Summit on Dec. 8-10 at the Gaylord National Convention Center just outside Washington D.C. to bring together the nation's leadership in nanotechnology research, development, implementation, policy and finance.

Public Input Sought on Balancing Cyber Security With Innovation

The Department of Commerce is seeking public input on "Cybersecurity, Innovation and Internet Policy" in order to better understand the nexus between cyber security challenges in the commercial sector and innovation in the Internet economy.  Comments are sought from all stakeholders, and will help inform a DOC report offering policy recommendations to the Administration.

Public Comment Sought on Creation of a National Cybersecurity Roadmap

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) seeks public comment on the creation of a Cybersecurity Roadmap to identify vulnerabilities to communications networks or end-users and to develop countermeasures and solutions in preparation for, and response to, cyber threats and attacks in coordination with federal partners. The FCC’s Cybersecurity Roadmap was recommended as an initial step forward in the area of cybersecurity as part of the Commission’s National Broadband Plan (NBP).  Comments are due by 23 Sept.

DOE Seeking Comments on Energy Education and Technical Training Efforts

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gain public input on its energy education and technical training efforts.  DOE is interested in gauging the status (prevalence and quality) of energy systems education and workforce development programs at the K-12, community college, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level (formal & informal education, competitions, etc. included); identifying the greatest gaps and deficiencies in energy education and technical training; identifying the energy sectors suffering the greatest workforce and professional skills shortage; identifying the most promising ideas for increasing energy literacy, attracting the best and brightest students into the clean energy field, ensuring America has the well-trained workforce for a transformed energy sector.

NASA Chief Technologist's Open Letter to Aspiring Students on Grand Challenges

Earlier this month, NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun issued an open letter to college students describing the challenging goals that have been set for America’s space program, including “preparing new rockets and space vehicles for flight in the early part of the next decade, human exploration of an asteroid by 2025, and sending humans to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s, with Mars surface landings to follow.”  In the letter, Braun invites students to "join us in this new endeavor. We need your innovative ideas, your passion, your dedicated efforts, and your technological solutions."

DARPA Outlines New R&D Privacy Principles

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently released a thoughtful set of Privacy Principles to help ensure that any future research and development programs that raise privacy issues are designed and implemented in a responsible and ethical fashion.    more


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

 

  • Public Policy Priority Issues (111th Congress, 2nd Session, 2010)

  • 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 Green Technologies Conference Seeks Technical Papers

IEEE Green Technologies Conference organizers are seeking technical papers on topics related to current and emerging renewable energy sources and energy-reduction technologies. Accepted papers will be presented during the third-annual conference, 14-15 April 2011, at the Hilton Hotel in Baton Rouge, La. They will also be published in a conference proceedings CD and available through the digital library IEEE Xplore. Contributed papers, particularly in the following areas, are solicited:

-- Energy generation and storage technologies, including nuclear, wind, solar, water, geothermal,
biomass, energy harvesting and storage

-- Energy usage reduction and conservation, including energy management, planning and
forecasting, home and commercial automation, innovative HVAC and lighting

-- Architectural and engineering sustainable designs, including strategies for sustainability, performance evaluation, use of green building components and system management

-- Environmental, legal, social, economic and political impacts, including emerging standards for
renewable and reduced carbon emission energy sources, safety and technologies for developed and underdeveloped countries

-- Smart Grid communication and control, including evolution and integration of renewable and reduced emission energy sources

-- Environmental protection, including oil spill prevention and control

PAPER SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS:

To submit a paper, go to http://edas.info, log in and use "GTC'11." Submissions must describe original work not previously published or currently under review for publication in another conference or journal. (Instructions) (Paper template)

Papers must be submitted between 1 September and 1 November. For questions regarding paper submissions, contact technical program chairs Dr. Jorge Aravena at aravena@ece.lsu.edu or Dr. Hsiao-Chun Wu at wu@ece.lsu.edu. Proposals for seminars and special sessions are also welcome and can be sent to Aravena at aravena@ece.lsu.edu.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The second IEEE Green Technologies Conference was held in Grapevine, Texas, in April. For an overview of the event, see http://www.todaysengineer.org/2010/Jul/Green.asp.

Investigations into Unintended Acceleration Should Include Engineers

Seems like common sense...because of the electronic complexity of modern passenger vehicles, investigations into sudden, unintended acceleration should draw upon the expertise of a broad array of electrical, electronics and software engineers and computer professionals. A February 2009 IEEE Spectrum article, "This Car Runs on Code," said that a modern premium-class automobile "probably contains close to 100 million lines of software code," and "all that software executes on 70 to 100 microprocessor-based electronic control units networked throughout the body of your car." By comparison, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner "requires about 6.5 million lines of code to operate its avionics and onboard support systems."

"The skilled engineers and technical professionals who design and evaluate modern vehicle systems bring not only knowledge and expertise from their specific disciplines, but also their experience and lessons learned from integrating technology into these vehicles," IEEE-USA President Evelyn Hirt said. "It goes beyond just having experience in a technology to understanding the complexity and application of that technology in its specific operating environment. This is frequently what is needed to assess why systems sometimes fail."

Faulty electronic throttle control systems have been cited as a possible cause of unintended vehicle acceleration incidents that have resulted in death and injury. The Toyota Motor Corp., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) National Research Council are each conducting separate studies into unintended acceleration.

NHTSA's study has enlisted "NASA engineers with expertise in areas such as computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software integrity." NAS' 12-member panel has, according to The Washington Post, three electronics experts and is planning to add three more. Its study will review unintended acceleration across all automotive manufacturers and investigate "electronic vehicle controls, human error, mechanical failure and interference with accelerator systems."

"There is no question that any effort to investigate these incidents will clearly benefit by including engineers with a firm grasp of the complex systems threaded through today's automobiles," said Doug Taggart, chair of the IEEE-USA Committee on Transportation and Aerospace Policy.

In a 6 April letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, IEEE-USA encouraged NHTSA to increase its number of electrical, electronics, computer and software engineers "to allow the agency perform the vital task of ensuring vehicle safety." On 24 May, NHTSA replied that it is "in the process of hiring a large number of engineers in response to the increased activities of the Agency."

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Department of Homeland Security Officials Headline Speakers at IEEE Homeland Security Conference

Howard A. Schmidt, national cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant to the U.S. president, will be a featured speaker at the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security (HST 10) in November. Dr. Starnes E. Walker and Christopher Doyle of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) will join Schmidt as featured speakers.

HST 10 will be held at the Westin Waltham Boston in Waltham, Mass., USA, 8-10 November 2010. It will bring together global science and technology thought leaders to foster homeland security technology innovation. The conference features a technical advisory committee of leading S&T experts from academia, national laboratories, federally funded research and development centers, the federal government and industry. Selected technical papers highlighting emerging technologies include:

*Cybersecurity
*Land and maritime border security
*Counter-WMD techniques and critical infrastructure and key resources physical security
*Attack and disaster preparation, recovery and response

HST 10 is produced by IEEE with technical support from DHS S&T and the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society. IEEE-USA is providing organizational support. More than 450 people attended the 2009 conference, including representatives from at least 10 foreign countries. Raytheon is the event platinum corporate sponsor. For more information, visit or contact Robert Alongi at information@ieee-hst.org or +1 781-245-5405.

New IEEE-USA E-Books Available - Four new E-Books have been added to IEEE-USA's E-Book catalog, including the 2009 IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefits Survey, the 2009 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.


U.S. STATES

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, FELLOWHIPS & GRANTS

National Science Foundation Recent opportunities include:

Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), GRF Nordic Research Opportunity - The Division of Graduate Education and the Office of International Science and Engineering announce the new Nordic Research Opportunity, available as a Supplemental Award, for NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRFs) to enable Fellows to gain international research experience and establish collaborations with counterparts at Norwegian,  Finnish and Danish research institutions. See details here

EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Inter-Campus and Intra-Campus Cyber Connectivity (RII C2) - The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a program designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation's (NSF) mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. The EPSCoR program is directed at those jurisdictions that have historically received lesser amounts of NSF Research and Development (R&D) funding. Twenty-seven states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands are currently eligible to participate. Through this program, NSF establishes partnerships with government, higher education and industry that are designed to effect lasting improvements in a state's or region's research infrastructure, R&D capacity and hence, its national R&D competitiveness.

IEEE-USA 2012 Government Fellowships

Each year, IEEE-USA sponsors three government fellowships for qualified IEEE members.  The fellows - chosen by the IEEE-USA Government Fellows Committee and confirmed by the Board - spend a year in Washington serving as advisers to the U.S. Congress and to key U.S. Department of State decision-makers. Known as either a Congressional Fellowship or an Engineering & Diplomacy Fellowship, this program links science, technology and engineering professionals with government, and provides a mechanism for IEEE's U.S. members to learn firsthand about the public policy process while imparting their knowledge and experience to policymakers. [New!]2012 Application materials are now available:

Application Kit for 2012 Congressional Fellowship

Application Kit for 2012 Engineering & Diplomacy (State Department) Fellowship

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.

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 RESOURCE

Center for Strategic and International Studies

A Human Capital Crisis in Cybersecurity - Evidence continues to build showing our information infrastructure is vulnerable to threats not just from nation states but also from individuals and small groups who seek to do us harm or who wish to exploit our weaknesses for personal gain.

A Few Thoughts on the National Security Implications of the U.S. And Global Commercial Space Launch Industry Commentary By John J. Hamre Jul 29, 2010 - The Administration recently released the President’s new National Space Policy. CSIS subsequently hosted senior Administration officials, who noted that the new policy builds on and only slightly modifies the space policies of previous Administrations. Administration officials, however, clearly stated that without the commercial space industry, America would have no space capabilities.

National Security and the Commercial Space Sector Report By David J. Berteau, Gregory Kiley, Guy Ben-Ari, Joshua T. Hartman, Gary Powell, Stephanie Sanok, Brian Green Jul 26, 2010 - This report examines the relationship between U.S. national security and the commercial space sector, with specific focus on the current state of the space launch industry and launch market. Building on a CSIS annotated briefing released in 2008, entitled “Health of the U.S.

Government Accountability Office

Cyberspace: United States Faces Challenges in Addressing Global Cybersecurity and Governance (GAO-10-606) July 2, 2010
Highlights Page (PDF)  Full Report (PDF, 53 pages)  Accessible Text  Recommendations (HTML)

Critical Infrastructure Protection: Key Private and Public Cyber Expectations Need to Be Consistently Addressed GAO-10-628, July 15, 2010 Summary (HTML)  Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 38 pages) Accessible Text  Recommendations (HTML)

Electronic Waste: Considerations for Promoting Environmentally Sound Reuse and Recycling GAO-10-626, July 12, 2010
Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 70 pages) Accessible Text  Recommendations (HTML)

Organizational Transformation: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Enterprise Architecture Management (Version 2.0) GAO-10-846G, August 5, 2010 Summary (HTML)   Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 93 pages) Accessible Text

Technology Assessment: Explosives Detection Technologies to Protect Passenger Rail GAO-10-898, July 28, 2010
Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 73 pages) Accessible Text


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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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