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What's New @ IEEE-USA - Eye On Washington

Vol. 2008, No. 6 ( 2 June 2008)

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • New STEM Legislation Intends to Address Need for Better Math & Science Education
  • Congress Addresses Immigration But Appears Unlikely to Pass Piecemeal Bills
  • Lawmakers Propose Action To Protect Power Grid

2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • DoE Seeks to Invest up to $130 Million in Advanced Fuel Cell Technology & Expands Transportation Fleet to Include Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
  • White House Threatens Veto Against Global Warming Bill

3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • The Importance of Technology Diffusion
  • New IBM Center Report on Collaborative Innovation in Government
  • Engineering News from the NSF

4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

5) U.S. STATES WATCH

6) AWARDS & GRANTS

7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS and SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

  • IEEE ENERGY 2030 - Towards A Sustainable Energy Infrastructure ( November 17 – 18, 2008, Atlanta, GA)

8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Selects 2009 Government Fellows
  • IEEE-USA-Supported Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Signed into Law
  • IEEE-USA's Recent Policy Communications
  • IEEE-USA Public Policy Priority Issues - 110th Congress, 2d Session (2008)
  • Track IEEE-USA's Progress
  • IEEE-USA In The News

9) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST


1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • New STEM Legislation Intends to Address Need for Better Math & Science Education

In late May, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) jointly introduced the Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Act of 2008 (H.R. 6104), legislation intended to coordinate the nation's STEM education initiatives. Cosponsors include House members George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Education; Vernon Ehlers (R-MI); and Rush Holt (D-NJ).

Both the Academic Competitiveness Council (ACC) and the National Science Board (NSB) released reports in 2007, finding serious impediments to making meaningful progress in the STEM areas.

In 2005, Congress established the ACC to identify, evaluate, and make recommendations on all federal programs with a math and science education focus. An inventory of various government agencies found 105 unique STEM education programs with approximately $3.12 billion in total FY 2006 funding. ACC's May 2007 report suggested that the federal government should promulgate information about effective educational practices, improve coordination of federal K-12 STEM education programs with states and local school systems, and said funding for federal STEM education programs should not increase unless a scheme for independent analysis of those programs is in place.

NSB's October 2007 report concluded the U.S. was failing to meet the STEM education needs of students, and in doing so, threatened U.S. economic security. NSB, which provides oversight for the National Science Foundation (NSF), recommended the creation of a non-Federal National Council for STEM Education to coordinate STEM programs, a standing committee on STEM within the National Science and
Technology Council, a new Assistant Secretary of Education position to coordinate the Department of Education's STEM efforts, and a detailed NSF plan to improve STEM education.

H.R. 6104 creates a working STEM education committee at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The new OSTP STEM Education Committee would coordinate efforts between Federal agencies, set annual goals for STEM education, and develop a 5-year projection of the STEM workforce. The bill also creates an Office of STEM Education at the Department of Education to coordinate STEM efforts. This division would be responsible for boosting programs for underrepresented populations in the
STEM fields, and managing the Math and Science Partnerships, Math Now, Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow, and Minority Science and Engineering Improvement programs. Finally, the Office would be tasked with enhancing communications between various levels of government and improving STEM
teacher quality.

Senator Obama and Congressman Honda's legislation also creates a voluntary State Consortium on STEM Education. The Consortium would establish an Interstate Council on STEM Education to identity weaknesses in the STEM education system, and possible remedies. The Council would also develop common content standards, curriculum tools, and assessments for K-12 STEM education.

Lastly, H.R. 6104 creates the National STEM Education Research Repository (NSERR), a central hub for federally funded STEM education research. NSERR is designed to serve as a clearing house for teachers and administrators to access information on best practices and exemplary programs.

For information on a recent House Science and Technology Committee efforts to engage students in math and science at an early age, visit: http://science.house.gov/publications/hearings_markups_details.aspx?NewsID=2181

  • Congress Addresses Immigration But Appears Unlikely to Pass Piecemeal Bills

Despite widespread speculation that election-year politics would mean no Congressional action on immigration, a number of bills that deal only with specific aspects of immigration have been introduced in the House and Senate. Most bills focus on increasing the caps for certain types of nonimmigrant visas and boosting enforcement through mandatory employment verification and other programs. However, it is unlikely any legislation will make it to the President's desk due to the prevalence of the dynamics that stalled immigration reform in 2006 and 2007; both political parties' entrenched policy differences and public anger over illegal immigration remain very much in play.

Several members of Congress who previously backed comprehensive immigration legislation, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have openly opposed the piecemeal immigration measures introduced in 2008. These members believe passage of such measures would make it harder for a comprehensive immigration reform bill to pass in the future. Examples of legislation currently moving through Congress include:

SAVE Act (HR 4088), sponsored by Heath Shuler (D-NC) - mandates employer participation in the federal E-Verify program (formerly known as Basic Pilot) allows employers to check whether their employees are authorized to work by comparing employee names and Social Security numbers against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. According to the most recent estimates from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers E-Verify, and the Government Accountability Office, approximately 61,000 employers are currently signed up to use E-Verify.

Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act of 2007 (HR 1843), introduced by Bart Stupak (D-MI) - increases the number of foreign-born workers eligible for sponsorship in the H-2B visa program. The H-2B program provides nonimmigrant visas for temporary or seasonal nonagricultural jobs. Under current immigration law, only 66,000 H-2B visas are available each fiscal year. Employers, especially those running seasonal businesses such as restaurants, resort hotels, and landscaping companies, have lobbied Congress for an increase in H-2B visas, arguing that more H-2B workers are needed to fill temporary employment needs. The House leadership supports increasing the number of H-2B visas for temporary workers, and has discussed pairing such legislation with some enforcement provisions from the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. This has created tension between leadership and Hispanic Caucus members.

But whew!...thankfully, New York runway workers will have an easier time getting jobs in the U.S. The House Judiciary Committee almost unanimously approved H.R. 4080, thus making it easier for fashion models from overseas to strut America's runways.

Currently, models must apply for a non-immigrant H-1B visa to work temporarily in the United States — the very same visas used by skilled workers such as engineers and computer programmers. The models were placed in that category because of a "technical glitch” in a 1991 law (PL 82-414), said Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif.). The designation did not interfere much with models' ability to work in the United States until the government capped the number of H-1B visas at 65,000 a year. Last year, that limit was reached in less than two days. The bill would create a new P-4 visa category for models of "distinguished merit and ability.” P visas are also given to actors, musicians and athletes who enter the United States for a few days or weeks. Just in the nick of time for all the event planners worried about having enough hired hands for this autumn's fashion week.

  • Lawmakers Propose Action To Protect Power Grid

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Subcommittee on Emerging Threats Chairman James Langevin (D-R.I.) sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D.-Mich.) detailing their recent efforts to review the United States' bulk power systems operators to secure their information networks. The letter suggests that the two committees work together to pass legislation granting Federal Energy Regulatory Commission enhanced authority to protect the nation from potential cyber-attacks. Langevin's subcommittee held a hearing on the topic last week at which lawmakers slammed FERC and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation for not doing enough to keep the power grid safe from cyber-threats. Read the full letter here.


2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • DoE Seeks to Invest up to $130 Million in Advanced Fuel Cell Technology & Expands Transportation Fleet to Include Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $130 million over three years, subject to Congressional appropriations, to advance the development and use of fuel cells for automotive, stationary, and portable power applications.  DOE's announcement is part of the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative that accelerates the pace of research and development (R&D) for hydrogen-powered fuel cells.  In addition to the FOA opportunity, today DOE expanded its own fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles with the addition of a Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell electric vehicle. For more info visit: http://www.energy.gov/sciencetech/6283.htm

View IEEE-USA's position statements on electric vehicles:

http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/hybridelectric.html

http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/PHEV0607.pdf

  • White House Threatens Veto Against Global Warming Bill

2 JUN: The White House threatened to veto - S. 3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act - a global warming bill that is expected to be filibustered now, but may see life under a new administration in 2009. The White House argued that the bill, which is intended to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by about 70 percent by mid century through a market-based cap-and-trade program, would be economically disastrous. The Senate bill would be "by far the single most expensive regulatory bill in our nation's history" as well as "one of the largest tax and spend bills in our nation's history," state a White House Statement of Administration Policy. The SAP said the bill would increase gas prices 53 cents per gallon relative to the expected price in 2030 and $1.40 per gallon in 2050. It would also increase electricity prices 44 percent in 2030 and 26 percent in 2050, and "severely damage the economy and drive jobs overseas," according to the SAP. The statement cited statistics from EPA and the Energy Information Administration that the bill could shrink U.S. gross domestic product as much as 7 percent, or more than $2.8 trillion, by mid-century and reduce U.S. manufacturing output by nearly 10 percent in 2030 "before even half of the bill's required reductions have taken effect."

  • Engineering News from the NSF

Texas Advanced Computing Center Supercomputer Performs Laser Cancer Surgery on Canine
Released May 21, 2008

Aerospace Business Leader, Supreme Problem Solver, and Innovative Science Communications Programs Capture Public's Interest in Science
Released May 9, 2008

RFID Testbed Measures Multiple Tags at Once and Rapidly Assesses New Antenna Designs
Released May 5, 2008

All recent news is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/news/index.jsp?prio_area=8


3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • The Importance of Technology Diffusion

A new Harvard Business School research study takes a closer look at the processes of technology diffusion. The authors, Diego Comin and Bart Hobijn, develop a model that helps trace the path of new technology adoption across countries. More specifically, the researchers assessed the technology diffusion paths of fifteen technologies across 166 countries between 1820 and 2003. They find that technology adoption lags can be quite long. On average, countries have adopted technologies 47 years after their invention. Not surprisingly, adoption lags have grown shorter over time. Reducing adoption lags, as has occurred in East Asia, can have a big impact on a country's economic prospects. Cross-country variations in the adoption of new technologies accounts for about one-quarter of the difference in national per capita incomes. Download the 2008 Harvard Business School research paper (#08-093), An Exploration of Technology Diffusion, by Diego A. Comin and Bart Hobijn - http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/08-093.pdf

  • New IBM Center Report on Collaborative Innovation in Government

Government agencies need to embrace new models of innovation, according to a new report sponsored by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. The study presents a review of new innovation models—dubbed network-based collaborative innovation---that have been pioneered by leading firms such as Procter & Gamble, 3M, and others. This approach links organizations to outside networks (such as customers or other partners) with the purpose of generating a broader and more diverse set of ideas and possible solutions. In the process, the speed of innovation is increased. Many thorny public policy issues, including areas like environmental conservation and disaster response, could benefit from this model. Yet, government agencies are presently not well suited to this approach, which places a high premium on openness and a commitment to close collaboration. The report provides a series of detailed recommendations for internal reforms that will help create the appropriate organizational culture and structures within government agencies. Download the 2008 IBM Center for the Business of Government-sponsored report, Transforming Government through Collaborative Innovation, by Satish Nambisan


4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

None at this time.


5) US STATES WATCH

If you like to keep up with going on in state politics, StateLine.org provides a good overview of the activities in all 50 state legislatures.


6) AWARDS & GRANTS

  • AAAS Grant Site

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a service called GrantsNet Express.  Each week GrantsNet will provide a 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. The weekly emails will include: — New science funding programs, divided into opportunities for postdocs/graduate students and undergraduates — Submission deadlines for funding opportunities scheduled in the upcoming week — New listings of funding for science-related research.

  • National Science Foundation

For information on NSF Engineering (ENG) Active Funding Opportunities, visit: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=ENG

Opportunities include:

Energy for Sustainability (Full Proposal Window:  August 15, 2008 - September 15, 2008)
SYNOPSIS - The Energy for Sustainability program supports fundamental research and education in energy production, conversion, and storage and is focused on energy sources that are environmentally friendly and renewable.  Most world energy needs are currently met through the combustion of fossil fuels.  With projected increases in global energy needs, more sustainable methods for energy production will need to be developed, and production of greenhouse gases will need to be reduced. Sources of sustainable energy include: Sunlight, Wind and Biomass.

Information Technology and Infrastructure Systems (Full Proposal Windows:  September 1, 2008 - October 1, 2008; and January 15, 2009 - February 15, 2009
SYNOPSIS - This program creates scientific and engineering knowledge for the intelligent renewal of civil infrastructure systems, such as transportation, water supply, sanitation, power generation, and the built environment, by promoting broad application of advanced information technologies to condition assessment, deterioration, and asset management sciences. It also creates scientific and engineering knowledge for the intelligent design, construction, maintenance, operation and decommissioning of the built environment.


7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS & SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

  • IEEE ENERGY 2030 - Towards A Sustainable Energy Infrastructure ( November 17 – 18, 2008, Atlanta, GA)

This new conference will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas amongst experts from a broad range of disciplines on the technology, policy and economic framework required for the creation of a global sustainable energy infrastructure by 2030. The IEEE, as a global technology leader in electrical and related technologies, with 43 societies and 370,000 members, is uniquely positioned to help define what the transformed infrastructure is likely to look like, and to initiate the discussion on the challenges that need to be overcome to achieve success. The Conference is initiated by the IEEE TA New Technology Directions Committee, and co-sponsorship by IEEE-USA; IEEE Standards Association; and the following
IEEE Societies: Industry Applications Society, Power Electronics Society, and the Power and Energy Society. For more info, visit: http://ewh.ieee.org/conf/energy2030/


8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Selects 2009 Government Fellows

CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWS:

Kenneth Lutz of Ocean, NJ - Dr. Lutz has been a member of IEEE since 1964 and a life senior member
since 1986. Dr. Lutz received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1971, and his BEE from the University of Delaware in 1964. He also has a post-graduate certificate in the strategic management of technology from the Wharton School of Business. Dr. Lutz currently works as a principle consultant to Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bell Communications Research, Piscataway, NJ), where he has also worked as a member of the technical staff. Prior to working for Bell, he worked as a research
engineer for the Harry Diamond Laboratories (now the Army Research Laboratory). Dr. Lutz has published many papers on the subject of communications technology, including ISDN operations, and he co-founded the Committee on Network Operations and Management in the IEEE Communications
Society. In his spare time, Dr. Lutz is very active in his community. He was the first man to join his local chapter of the League of Women Voters when they extended the membership to men in 1975. He is also the chair of the local Environmental Commission and works in several capacities to ensure the environmental health of his community.

Thomas Lee of Palo Alto, CA - Thomas Lee has been a member of IEEE since 2001. He is currently finishing his PhD at Stanford University where he also received an MSEE (2000) and BSEE (1998). Mr. Lee received the Stanford University Department of Electrical Engineering Outstanding Service Award for a Graduate Student (2007). His dissertation work focused on the development of a single chip sensor that uses near infrared light to observe hemodynamic changes in mammalian cerebral cortex that are correlated to brain activity. His other research includes evaluating business opportunities in healthcare and security technology for a Japanese electronics firm; and redesigning the curriculum of an upper-division undergraduate analog communication lab course. Mr. Lee's work experience includes 2 years working as a member of the technical staff of Barcelona Design, Inc. in Newark, CA where he
designed sub-1V bandgap references and managed device modeling system and integration of fabrication process technologies.

STATE DEPARTMENT FELLOW:

Thomas Tierney of Los Alamos, NM - Tom Tierney has been a member of IEEE since 1997 and a senior member since 2007. He obtained a BS (1995) and an MS (1997) from University of California - Irvine, and a PhD from LANL and UC Irvine in 2002. Dr. Tierney current works as a project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he has also held several prior positions as a researcher and a technical staff member. He specializes in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines including high energy density physics, nuclear proliferation and explosive designs. He has an interest in ensuring that
the U.S. remains internationally strong in ST&E competitiveness. His resume displays and long record of activity in student conferences and programs that promote mentoring and recruitment, as well as community activities such as serving as a speaker on housing issues in the Los Alamos area.

  • IEEE-USA-Supported Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Signed into Law

The president recently signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), legislation that IEEE-USA has long supported protecting people from discrimination in employment and health insurance based on genetic information. Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill.

IEEE-USA President Dr. Russell Lefevre expressed his appreciation in a letter to one of the bill's key sponsors, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

"The overwhelming bipartisan support for this historic legislation is indicative of the commitment by you and other congressional leaders toward ensuring our nation's future in a rapidly changing world,” Lefevre wrote.

GINA prevents health insurance companies from changing, canceling or denying coverage based solely on a person's genetic predisposition to a specific disease or disorder. Advances in genetic testing have made possible early detection of a wide range of diseases with hereditary links, including diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cardiovascular disease and various forms of cancer. Yet, people have increasingly been reluctant to undergo these potentially life-saving tests for fear that the information could be used against them.

GINA also prevents employers from basing hiring, firing and promotion decisions on genetic information. They are also forbidden from requesting, requiring or disclosing such information. Employment agencies and labor organizations are bound by similar provisions.

The president said the law "protects our citizens from having genetic information misused, and … does so without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry." IEEE-USA has advocated nondiscrimination in the use of genetic information for more than a decade. The organization is a member of the Coalition for Genetic Fairness, which was founded in 2000 "to address the growing concern surrounding the misuse of genetic information in insurance and employment
decisions." For more on the coalition, see http://www.geneticfairness.org/.

  • IEEE-USA's Recent Policy Communications

21 May: Letter to House Science Committee leaders urging prompt consideration of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 6063.)

21 May: Letter to Bill Sponsors and Key Leaders expressing appreciation for their leadership in securing passage of The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 493, S. 358).

19 May: Letter to House leadership urging prompt passage of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 5940)

19 May: Letter to Reps. Eshoo providing input on her pending health information technology legislation (H.R. 3800)

19 May: Letter to Reps. Gordon providing input on his pending health information technology legislation (H.R. 2400)

16 May: Joint letter with SIA to Rep. Lofgren endorsing her permanent, employment-based immigration reform bills (H.R. 5882 with Rep. Sensenbrenner, H.R. 5921 with Rep. Goodlatte, and H.R. 6039 with Rep. Cannon).

14 May: Letter to Rep. Lofgren endorsing her permanent, employment-based immigration reform bills (H.R. 5882 with Rep. Sensenbrenner, H.R. 5921 with Rep. Goodlatte, and H.R. 6039 with Rep. Cannon).

9 May: Coalition Letter to House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees urging legislation to accelerate commercialization of plug-in electric drive by establishing a consumer credit for plug-in electric drive vehicles

9 May: Letter to leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee expressing support for legislation extending federal incentives such as production tax credits for carbon neutral sources of electric power generation.

8 May: Letter to leaders of the Senate Finance Committee expressing support for legislation extending federal incentives such as production tax credits for carbon neutral sources of electric power generation.

Read a full listing of IEEE-USA lobbying activities on our web site at: http://ieeeusa.com/policy/policy/index.html

  • IEEE-USA Public Policy Priority Issues - 110th Congress, 2d Session (2008)

The updated public policy priorities list is available online at: http://ieeeusa.org/policy/issues/index.html

  • Track IEEE-USA's Progress

For the latest IEEE-USA Annual Report, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/annual_report/2006.pdf

For the IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan, go to:

http://www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/strategicplan/index.html

Many newly approved position statements are now available online at: http://ieeeusa.com/policy/positions/index.html

  • IEEE-USA In The News

For more IEEE-USA in the News items, see: http://ieeeusa.org/communications/inthenews/default.asp.

  • Its election Year!!

Make sure that you're a part of the solution. Register to vote: http://www.engineeringthevote.org/register.asp

Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, NPR calls for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy. http://sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php


9) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

None at this time.


Top of Page | What's New@IEEE | IEEE-USA


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.

You can change your IEEE-USA Eye on Washington subscription status by using the forms at http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/emailupdates/default.asp

Copyright © 2008, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  Permission granted to copy for personal use or for non-commercial republication with appropriate attribution.

Updated: 03 June 2008

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