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

Vol. 2009, No. 7 (27 April 2009)
125 Years of Innovation and Ingenuity

CAPITOL HILL ACTIVITY

Recent House Hearings on the Small Business Innovation Research Program

On Earth Day, House Passes Bill to Bolster Ranks of Green Engineers

Trivia...100 Days and 12 New Laws

EXECUTIVE ACTIVITY

Obama Names Chief Technology Officer

White House to Create New Military Command for Defense of Computer Networks

Cybersecurity Review Recommendations Complete

New Secretary of Commerce Emphasizes Role of Intellectual Property in Recovery

USPTO Statement Supports and Endorses Consensus-Based Standards and the Private Sector-Led U.S. Standardization System

New OSTP Blog & Obama Declares "Investment in Science is Not A Luxury"

REPORTS & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

U.S. STATES WATCH

AWARDS & GRANTS

SSTI Excellence in TBED Awards

California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

IEEE Green Tech Conference: Engineers Should Contribute to Renewable Energy Policies, Consider Ethical Implications

IEEE-SA Launches Smart Grid Initiative

IEEE-PES Announces Power Engineering Workforce Action Plan

IEEE-USA Energy Fly-In 15-16 June 2009

IEEE-USA Stimulus Webpage

IEEE-USA Workshop, "STEM Measures for Innovation and Competitiveness"


CAPITOL HILL

Recent House Hearings on the Small Business Innovation Research Program

1) The Importance of Technology in an Economic Recovery - The House Small Business Committee heard from small businesses on how a robust and thriving technology sector is critical to the success of the overall economy. Witnesses specifically discussed SBIR's impact on innovation and job creation.

2) The Role of the SBIR and STTR Programs in Stimulating Innovation at Small High-Tech Businesses - The House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation examined the role of the SBIR and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs in supporting innovation at small high-tech firms and how, in turn, this promotes the economic welfare of the Nation. Chairman Wu's opening remarks stressed a point that IEEE-USA's Intellectual Property Policy Committee has been making (letter #1 & #2) during the patent reform debate of the last couple of years -- the United States looks to small high-tech firms to innovate and create technologies that can grow an economy. "Large, established companies such as AmGen, Apple, Genentech, and Microsoft all started as small entrepreneurial firms and now employ thousands. All were innovators and drove economic growth," said Wu.

A year ago, the House passed an SBIR reauthorization bill (H.R. 5819) which included the first significant changes to the program since its inception. H.R. 5819 reflected not only the cost of research today, but also reflected the international competitive market American high-tech firms face. The current SBIR program is due to expire at the end of July. The witnesses at this hearing discussed the power of small high-tech firms' ability to create economic growth and the SBIR's contribution to that ability.

On Earth Day, House Passes Bill to Bolster Ranks of Green Engineers

The House chamber overwhelmingly (411 to 6) passed a bill to support the training of engineers and architects in the design of energy efficient buildings. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) sponsored the Green Energy Education Act of 2009 (H.R. 957) to authorize the Department of Energy to fund National Science Foundation grants to universities to develop multi-disciplinary, graduate-level research programs in energy efficiency. One of the bill's primary goals is to improve the ability of engineers, architects, landscape architects and planners to work together on advanced energy technologies during the design and construction of high performance buildings. The NSF grants would support laboratory activities, training courses or design projects.

"The goal of this initiative is to improve the ability of engineers and architects to design and construct buildings with improved energy efficiency, durability, and lifecycle performance and occupant productivity," McCaul said upon introducing the bill in February. Grant recipients would apply to NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program. DOE funds would support the agency's mandate under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to provide "advanced energy technology research, development, demonstration, and commercial application" of high-performance buildings.

Trivia...100 Days and 12 New Laws

The first 100 days of the 111th Congress ended on April 15th, at which time a dozen bills had cleared both chambers and were signed by the president. What passed so far? A joint resolution ensuring that the "compensations attached to the office of Secretary of the Interior" are those that were in effect on 1 January 2005; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which allows an aggrieved person to obtain relief, including recovery of back pay, when unlawful employment practices occur; an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program; a postponement of the DTV transition date; some overdue federal 2009 appropriations; a bill naming a post office in Springfield, Ill.; an extension of the J-1 visa waiver; a bill designating some federal lands as wilderness preservations; a bill extending aviation excise taxes; and of course, "the stimulus act."


EXECUTIVE ACTIVITY

Obama Names Chief Technology Officer

President Barack Obama announced Aneesh Chopra, Virginia's Secretary of Technology, will serve as the Chief Technology Officer.  As Chief Technology Officer, Chopra will promote technological innovation to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland.  Together with Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, they will help give all Americans a government that is effective, efficient, and transparent. Chopra currently leads the Virginia's strategy to effectively leverage technology in government reform, to promote Virginia's innovation agenda, and to foster technology-related economic development. Previously, he worked as Managing Director with the Advisory Board Company, leading the firm's Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives.

White House to Create New Military Command for Defense of Computer Networks

Within the next few weeks, the Obama administration plans to unveil a new military command to coordinate the defense of Pentagon computer networks and improve U.S. offensive capabilities in cyberwarfare, according to current and former officials familiar with the plans. The initiative will reshape the military's efforts to protect its networks from hacker attacks, especially those from countries such as China and Russia. The move comes amid growing evidence that sophisticated cyberspies are attacking the U.S. electric grid and key defense programs. On April 21st, newspapers reported that hackers breached the Pentagon's biggest weapons program, the $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter, and stole data. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked the defense secretary for a briefing on the matter.

Cybersecurity Review Recommendations Complete

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to elevate cybersecurity as a national-security issue, equating its significance with nuclear and biological weapons. In early February, President Obama directed the National Security and Homeland Security Advisors to conduct an immediate review of programs and activities underway throughout the government dedicated to cyber security. The White House Interagency Assessment team, led by Melissa Hathaway, has completed its recommendations, including whether or not the White House should create a White House cyberpolicy official, and will deliver the results to Obama soon. A draft of the review addresses the question of how to improve computer security in the private sector, especially key infrastructure such as telecommunications and the electricity grid. The document stresses the importance of working with the private sector and civil-liberties groups to craft a solution, but doesn't call for a specific government role.

New Secretary of Commerce Emphasizes Role of Intellectual Property in Recovery

21 APR: In a speech to the Motion Picture Association of America's Business of Show Business day-long symposium, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke emphasized the important role trade and intellectual property protection play in economic recovery. Locke said the huge cost of counterfeiting and piracy is a drag on the entertainment industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. In the past, Locke said some trade officials have turned a blind eye to the issue, creating part of the reason the United States runs "an unsustainable $700 billion annual trade deficit." He said he has seen the effects of infringement firsthand during his many trips to China. "Our ability to trade in a rules-based system around the world is critical to our success," Locke said, and added that President Obama is "well aware of the impact of piracy." Effectively addressing IP theft "will require collaboration of government and industry."

Also speaking at the event, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he will soon reintroduce legislation with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus to augment actions the U.S. government can take to combat violations of U.S. intellectual property abroad. The bill will authorize more funding for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to work with developing countries on IP improvements and would punish nations who do not comply.

Still absent is the announcement naming the new head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. John Doll remains Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO.

USPTO Statement Supports and Endorses Consensus-Based Standards and the Private Sector-Led U.S. Standardization System

A recent United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) statement expressed strong support for the private-sector led and public-sector supported U.S. standards system and for the use of standards developed through an open and consensus-based process. The USPTO delivered the statement at the 25 March 2009 meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), which stated that "there is NOT a crisis, as claimed by some, in standard setting" in the United States. According to USPTO, standards developed through open process improve interoperability, facilitate interactions ranging from information exchange to international trade, and foster market competition.

New OSTP Blog & Obama Declares "Investment in Science is Not A Luxury"

27 APR: The President delivered remarks to the National Academy of Sciences and the leaders of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine in which he announced the launch of a new Office of Science & Technology Policy blog. The blog will serve as a forum for conversation and public comment on the President's memorandum on scientific integrity issued in March. "I have charged the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with leading a new effort to ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information.  I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions – and not the other way around." said Obama.

In the same speech, President Obama announced the appointment of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST, representing leaders from many scientific disciplines who will bring a diversity of experiences and views, are charged with advising the President on national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation.  PCAST will be co-chaired by John Holdren, White House chief science advisor; Eric Lander, one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project; and Harold Varmus, former head of the National Institutes of Health and a Nobel laureate.

Obama also stressed that it is wrong to think of investment in science as a luxury; "Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been.  And if there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it's today.

"Federal funding in the physical sciences as a portion of our gross domestic product has fallen by nearly half over the past quarter century. Time and again we've allowed the research and experimentation tax credit, which helps businesses grow and innovate, to lapse.

"Our schools continue to trail. Our students are outperformed in math and science by their peers in Singapore, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Korea, among others. Another assessment shows American fifteen year olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science when compared to nations around the world. And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas."

The White House set goals for and pledged the following:

--to devote more than three percent of the US GDP to research and development, the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.

--to reduce our carbon pollution by more than 80 percent by 2050;

--to fund for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E);

--to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health, including $6 billion to support cancer research, part of a sustained, multi-year plan to double cancer research in our country;

--to make permanent the research and experimentation tax credit;

--to increase participation in – and our commitment to – international science and technology cooperation across the many areas where it is clearly in our interest to do so;

--to challenge states to dramatically improve achievement in math and science by raising standards, modernizing science labs, upgrading curriculum, and forging partnerships to improve the use of science and technology in our classrooms by allowing those states who make strong commitments and progress in math and science education to compete later this year for additional funds under the Secretary of Education's $5 billion Race to the Top program; and

--to triple the number of National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.

Hear the rest of Obama's speech at http://www.nationalacademies.org/.


REPORTS & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

National Academies

Developing Metrics for Assessing Engineering Instruction: What Gets Measured is What Gets Improved - provides a concise description of a process to develop and institute a valid and acceptable means of measuring teaching effectiveness to foster greater acceptance and rewards for faculty efforts to improve their performance of the teaching role that makes up a part of their faculty responsibility. Although the focus of this book is in the area of engineering, the concepts and approaches are applicable to all fields in higher education.

21st Century Innovation Systems for Japan and the United States: Lessons from a Decade of Change: Report of a Symposium - The National Research Council's Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) is studying selected foreign innovation programs in comparison with major U.S. programs. This symposium reviewed government programs and initiatives to support the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises, government-university- industry collaboration and consortia, and the impact of the intellectual property regime on innovation. This book brings together the papers presented at the conference and provides a historical context of the issues discussed at the symposium.


US STATES ACTIVITIES

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.


AWARDS & GRANTS

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.

National Science Foundation - For information on all NSF engineering funding opportunities. For information on other NSF funding opportunities. Current examples include:

1) Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) - In February, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act) provides $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, recognizing the enormous potential that investments in scientific research have to stimulate innovation and economic growth. NSF released plans for allocating Recovery funds; please read about these plans at http://nsf.gov/pubs/issuances/in131.pdf. Please also monitor the NSF website for continuous updates. As a result of the new funds, CISE will realize funding rates approaching 30% in FY 2009 -- a significant increase over levels in recent years. CISE will be able to support more investigators, including faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduates, ensuring that they continue to attract and retain top computing talent.

The Recovery Act also specifically allocates $500 million to support the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI) programs. The new MRI and ARI program solicitations will be released shortly, and will provide new funding opportunities for the CISE community. The MRI solicitation will seek research instrumentation proposals and the ARI solicitation will provide funding opportunities to modernize existing research facilities, including upgrading existing campus-based cyberinfrastructure and its connectivity to regional and national broadband networks.

2) Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRAC) - In 2011, a new NSF-funded petascale computing system, Blue Waters, will go online at the University of Illinois. The goal of this facility is to open up new possibilities in science and engineering by providing computational capability that makes it possible for investigators to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges across a wide spectrum of domains. The purpose of this solicitation is to invite research groups that have a compelling science or engineering challenge that will require petascale computing resources to submit requests for allocations of resources on the Blue Waters system. Proposers must be prepared to demonstrate that they have a science or engineering research problem that requires and can effectively exploit the petascale computing capabilities offered by Blue Waters. Proposals from or including junior researchers are encouraged as one of the goals of this solicitation is to build a community capable of using petascale computing. Deadline: 20 May 2009

SSTI Excellence in TBED Awards - Each year, SSTI recognizes initiatives that greatly impact state and regional economies through a national competition showcasing effective and innovative approaches to building tech-based economies. Deadline: 16 June 2009 In October, SSTI will present awards to organizations demonstrating successful local, state and regional efforts across six categories:

--Expanding the Research Infrastructure
--Commercializing Research
--Building Entrepreneurial Capacity
--Increasing Access to Capital
--Enhancing the Science & Technology Workforce
--Improving Competitiveness of Existing Industries

USPTO Announces Call for Nominations for National Medal of Technology and Innovation - Nominations Also Now Accepted for Medal Nomination Evaluation Committee - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The Medal, presented each year by the President of the United States, is the nation's highest honor for technological achievement. The nominations can be made for an individual, a team of up to four individuals, a company or a division of a company. The honorees are selected for their outstanding contributions to the nation's economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the Nation's technological manpower. The deadline for nominations is 29 May 2009. To make a nomination, go to http://www.uspto.gov/nmti/.

California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is pleased to announce the California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships based in Sacramento with applications being accepted beginning March 25th through May 29th, 2009. The S&T Policy Fellowships, a unique one-year professional development opportunity, provides the selected fellows with hands-on experience working with the California legislative process to incorporate science and technology into public policy. Eligible applicants will be PhD-level (or equivalent) scientists, engineers, doctors, economists and others with comparable level of training who have a strong interest in California current events and the state legislative and political processes. Deadline for submission of applications is 29 May 2009.


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

 

  • Public Policy Priority Issues (111th Congress, 1st Session, 2009)

  • Position Statements - The statements identify important technical or engineering career-related aspects of public policy issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE's U.S. members; and 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 Tech Conference: Engineers Should Contribute to Renewable Energy Policies, Consider Ethical Implications

The recent IEEE Green Technology Conference in Lubbock, TX opened with the proclamation that engineers working in renewable energy fields should participate in public policymaking and consider ethical implications. "Engineers have a special role to play with regard to the ethical development of renewable energy technology and associated public policies," said Dr. William Marcy, P.E., executive director of the Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism at Texas Tech University.

As the push for renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass, hydropower, among others) advances, Marcy thinks it's important for engineers to use their technical expertise to help lawmakers devise new energy policies. He says, "The role of public policy in promoting and enabling green technologies may turn out to be as important as the innovations themselves."

Marcy also said ethical issues can arise from developing renewable energy technologies and from implementing the policies designed to promote their use. When engineers assist in formulating public policy, they should take into account the many possible outcomes that could arise from a specific policy. This helps to prevent unforeseen or unintended consequences. Marcy cited the example of producing ethanol from corn. Because corn serves as the basis for much of the U.S. food supply, as demand for corn as energy increased, the cost of food rose. This unintended result is a hardship for low-income families.

"To make an ethical case for a new renewable energy policy one must take into account not only the consequences of actions individuals may take," Marcy said, "but also the consequences that will accrue to society on a local, regional, national and global level."

IEEE Region 5, the IEEE South Plains Section, Texas Tech University and IEEE-USA sponsored the inaugural IEEE Green Technology Conference. The 2010 IEEE Green Technology Conference will be in Fort Worth, Texas, 15-16 April 2010. Technical papers, workshops, panels and tutorial submissions can be sent to Edward L. Safford, technical program chair, at e.safford@ieee.org.

IEEE-SA Launches Smart Grid Initiative - The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is launching a groundbreaking smart grid initiative for the power engineering, communications and information technology industries. The IEEE Standard 2030 Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System (EPS) and End-Use Applications and Loads -- or alternatively, the "IEEE-SA P2030 guide" -- will provide a knowledge base for understanding and defining smart grid interoperability of the electric power system with end use applications and loads. The guide will involve the integration of energy technology and information and communications technologies, which is necessary to achieve seamless operation for electric generation, delivery, and end-use benefits that will permit two-way power flow with communication and control. The IEEE-SA Standards Coordinating Committee 21 (SCC21) is sponsoring the P2030 project. Any individual interested in shaping the P2030 smart grid guide is welcomed to attend a two-day conference 3-5 June 2009 at Intel Corp. in Santa Clara, CA. Members can register before 22 May 2009 at: https://web.memberclicks.com/mc/quickForm/viewForm.do?orgId=iecs&formId=59246
For more info, contact: Bill Ash, Senior Program Manager, IEEE-SA (w.ash@ieee.org)

IEEE-PES Announces Power Engineering Workforce Action Plan - The IEEE Power & Energy Society is leading the U.S. Power and Energy Engineering Workforce Collaborative, an initiative to address concerns about the U.S. power and energy engineering workforce. The Collaborative is working for the transformation of relationships among industry, government and universities (1) to support on-going activities that expand the pipeline of students, and (2) to build, enhance and sustain university power engineering programs. The Collaborative released a report -- Preparing the U.S. Foundation for Future Electric Energy Systems: A Strong Power and Energy Engineering Workforce -- containing recommended actions for industry, government and educational institutions. (Press Release).

IEEE-USA Energy Fly-In 15-16 June 2009 - IEEE-USA invites any IEEE member with an interest in Energy Policy to come to Washington on 15 and 16 June for our First Annual Energy Fly-In. This unique event will give IEEE members an unparalleled opportunity to directly influence the direction of Energy Policy in Washington. Qualifications for participation in the IEEE-USA Energy Fly-In are as follows: You must live in the United States and be an IEEE member, and you must care about energy policy issues.

IEEE-USA Stimulus Webpage -The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) (Public Law 111-8) appropriates significant federal funding for technology-related programs in areas identified by IEEE-USA as being of high priority for strengthening the nation's innovation infrastructure and ensuring its long-term economic competitiveness.  To stimulate the economy, funds are being distributed as quickly as possible, using existing federal programs as funding outlets where possible.  This webpage provides information and links on these funding opportunities as a resource for IEEE members and their companies.  Additional information is available on-line at Recovery.Gov.  Members should also look to funds distributed through their respective state governments

IEEE-USA Workshop, "STEM Measures for Innovation and Competitiveness" - IEEE-USA is organizing a workshop at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (22-23 October 2009). We encourage experts in these areas to participate and submit papers for presentation. The science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) enterprise includes the research & development activities of the federal, academic and private sectors, both nationally and globally. STEM is accepted as the driving force for worldwide economic and social advancement. National policies and planning influencing the health and productivity of this enterprise should be derived from basic incorruptible, unbiased data and measures. The IEEE-USA STEM workshop will address these important questions and work toward viable solutions. We believe STEM policy should be based on arguments fully supported by concrete data and rigorous analysis.

* Is the workforce data on the number of workers that are employed, unemployed and underemployed
complete, nonexistent, or questionable and controversial?

* Should earmarks in any federal agency allotment be counted as part of the R&D budget? What is the amount of the industrial input to the R&D budget and its contribution to basic, applied and develop-mental research? What are the return on investment of R&D and its impact on society and quality of life?

* How can we measure and assess the STEM outcome/productivity? Is bibliometric data sufficient to measure this, both in quantity and quality? What data exists to follow interactions among federal, academic and private STEM entities?

* Can there be a federal, for-profit, non-profit or academic body that can produce unbiased reports and recommendations for national STEM enterprise policy employing the products mentioned above?

Former IEEE-USA Government Fellows Available to Speak to Sections - Several former IEEE-USA Congressional Fellows including Tom Fagan, Marty Sokoloski, Emily Sopensky and George Hanover are available to speak to your section meetings or other IEEE meetings in the United States. The fellows provide recounts of their experiences as IEEE-USA's Congressional and State Department fellows. For example, George Hanover discussed the innovation and competitiveness issues that he worked on while serving as an IEEE-USA congressional fellow on the staff of the Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee of the House Science Committee. George also served on the personal staff of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a member of the House Science Committee. George discussed an engineer's perspective on the "government process" and the IEEE-USA's involvement in that process. If your section is interested in having one of the former government fellows speak to your group about the program, how the legislative process works in Washington, and how IEEE-USA is influencing it, please contact Erica Wissolik at e. wissolik @ ieee. org. For more information on the IEEE-USA Government Fellows Program, please visit: http://ieeeusa.org/policy/govfel/default.asp


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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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