September 9, 2011


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) identified several areas of bipartisan cooperation on President Obama’s $450 billion jobs plan, including: small business tax relief, unemployment benefits reform, extension of payroll tax cuts. He did not go for a massive new program of infrastructure spending, including $60 billion for transportation. He said the priority should be to give states more flexibility to spend the money they already have and use up “significant” stimulus dollars that are still unspent. “There's a lot of area for progress there before we go start spending hundreds of billions of dollars more. We have to be smart about it.”

Obama’s plan would provide $5 billion to build and renovate facilities at community and tribal colleges. To pay for the whole plan, he wants the bipartisan debt-reduction panel, which held its first meeting this week, to make more cuts in spending. Aneesh Chopra and Tom Kalil of the Office of Science and Technology Policy outline the plan’s potential benefit to entrepreneurs.


'OUR WORK IS JUST BEGINNING:' So declared Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D, Hawaii) in announcing how the panel had divided up FY 2012 discretionary funds. Beyond the record cuts in 2011 and 2012, appropriators must come up with another $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade. Subcommittees have so far approved spending measures for Agriculture/FDA, Energy and Water, and Homeland Security. Richard Jones of the American Institute of Physics examines how Energy is treated. As expected, the Democratic-led panel comes closer to meeting President Obama’s priorities than the House.

OUTLOOK: Differences between House and Senate appropriators could well be hashed out between members of the two panels over the course of the fall, leading to an omnibus spending bill. Before that, CQ reports that the House will vote the week of Sept. 19 on a stopgap measure to fund the government through late fall. Despite the House’s ambitious start on appropriations bills, it now seems unlikely members will complete all 12. A sign that the process has stalled, noted by CQ, was the postponement of House subcommittee action on the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. Splitting from their leadership, some House appropriators want deeper cuts than called for in the debt-reduction deal.

VETERANS' TRAINING: The House Veterans Affairs panel voted 17-5 to approve HR 2433, providing a year of community college or technical school for some 100,000 jobless veterans in high-demand fields such as technology and health care.

PATENT BILL SENT TO OBAMA: Congress’s patent-overhaul marathon is finally over following Senate passage Thursday of the historic measure that changes the U.S. system from “first to invent” to “first to file.” Obama is expected to sign it.


MATERIAL GAINS: The National Science Foundation will fund three Materials Interdisciplinary Research Teams (MIRT) and nine Centers of Excellence in Materials Research and Innovation as a result of a competition launched earlier this year. The multimillion-dollar, multidisciplinary awards will promote, among other things, next-generation electronics and photonics and bio- and soft-materials. At least two winners – a North Carolina consortium and the University of Utah – announced their awards independently.

ON THE ROAD: The National Science Board meets Tuesday, Sept. 13 on the University of Arizona campus in Tuscon. Main plenary topic: The Changing Landscape of Undergraduate STEM Education. Other sessions will discuss the outline of a report on merit review and unsolicited research. See the full agenda.

YOUNG TALENT REWARDED: The National Science Foundation's Waterman Award -- a $500,000 grant over three years -- recognizes a young researcher's talent, creativity and influence. Nominees are accepted from any field of science or engineering that NSF supports. Find detailed information here.



THE BIG LEAP: A commission will study and recommend ways to help graduate students move more easily into careers, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Formed by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Educational Testing Service, it will be chaired by Patrick Osmer, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School at Ohio State University.


GUILTY PLEA: Stewart Nozette, who developed advanced technology for a variety of space and nuclear programs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Naval Research Laboratories, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and other agencies, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted espionage. He had passed classified information in exchange for cash to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy. Nozette holds a Ph.D. in planetary science from MIT. According to a Justice Department statement of facts, his Clementine satellite, a version of which currently hangs on display at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., was later hailed as the vanguard of the new "faster, cheaper, better" revolution in space exploration.


Teaching Best Practices Webinar for Engineering Faculty Members 

ASEE is sponsoring an upcoming webinar on behalf of the NSF funded ENGAGE Project. We encourage you to spread the word amongst your colleagues. The webinar will take place Wednesday, September 14, at 2:00 p.m. EDT and is titled "Using Everyday Engineering Examples in the Classroom with Eann Patterson, Ph.D." Attendees can register here . Each attendees will receive a complimentary PDF of Real Life Examples by Eann Patterson. For more information on the ENGAGE Project, please visit or read about the project in a recent PRISM article here.

View a specialized online invitation for ASEE members interested in this webinar here.

EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL DEAL: ASEE has negotiated a special arrangement with Bulletin News that will allow you to receive White House Bulletin, the comprehensive daily news summary that brings the nation's powerbrokers up to speed on the morning's developments, while providing an inside roadmap for future decisions. The Bulletin focuses on the plans being formulated behind closed doors in the Executive and Legislative Branches and pieces together the specifics to keep subscribers ahead of the curve on emerging issues. Over the last 18 years, White House Bulletin has attracted a paying readership that includes the country's most influential government and business leaders, including the top officials in the Executive Branch, members of Congress, major trade associations, the media, and Fortune 500 executives.

White House Bulletin will be a must-read for academics and industrial leaders seeking to understand the changing policy environment in Washington, for faculty members trying to stay abreast of the ups and downs of funding agencies, and for students seeking a concise way to keep up with events in a turbulent world.

ASEE’s special rate of five cents a day per member – less than 1% of the regular subscription price – depends on our drawing enough subscribers. Don’t miss this opportunity to get White House Bulletin for five cents a day, less than one percent of the regular subscriber price. If enough members sign up, you’ll start receiving White House Bulletin in January. ASEE Members: $12/year, Non-members: $120/year. More information will be posted soon at

COMING THIS FALL: The 5th edition of eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's inspiring magazine for K-12 students. The new edition will present readers with a multifaceted picture of engineering by offering briefs on different engineering disciplines, first-hand accounts from engineering students, teachers, and professionals, and tips on how to prepare for, finance, and succeed in pursuing an education in engineering. Since its launch in 2003, eGFI has reached more than 1.7 million readers. To inquire about sponsorship or to place advance orders, contact Grace Hill (; 202-350-5760 or


EDITOR: Mark Matthews; CONTRIBUTORS: Jaimie Schock, Michael T. Gibbons, David Mitchell, William E. Kelly, Thomas K. Grose