Engineering Public Policy Symposium Focuses on Energy and Research Development

BY IEEE-USA Staff Posted: 1 Jun 2012

The 2012 Engineering Public Policy Symposium convened 17 April, in Washington, D.C., to highlight key issues before the administration and Congress related to Energy and Research and Development. The annual event brought together more than 100 leaders—presidents, presidents-elect and executive directors—from 33 national engineering societies, representing more than two million engineers. ASME served as the chair and lead organizer of the symposium, and IEEE-USA was one of the co-chairs of the event, made possible by a grant from the United Engineering Foundation.

The daylong symposium featured key speakers from the administration, Congress, and industry, who highlighted their priorities in research and development, energy and manufacturing. ASME President Victoria A. Rockwell delivered the opening remarks. Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, served as the event’s keynote speaker, and focused on the administration’s strong emphasis on research, particularly for clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and robotics. This discussion included the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a public-private initiative President Obama announced in 2011. Dr. Holdren outlined the administration’s proposed FY 2013 budget request and ended his remarks by urging professional society members and leaders to continue their efforts to enhance awareness on these issues.

Following Dr. Holdren’s remarks, Under Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Dr. Pat Gallagher, offered some insight into the NIST FY 2013 proposed budget. The NIST budget again proposes creating a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), supported by a mixture of public and private stakeholders.  NNMI would focus on research related to manufacturing competitiveness.

ASME Fellow, Acting Under Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), and the first Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, Dr. Arun Majumdar, spoke about various energy initiatives--within ARPA-E, as well as DOE-wide. Some of these initiatives included the DOE Innovation Hubs, which bring engineers and scientists together to solve technical issues, as well as the Sunshot Initiative, which seeks to scale down the cost of solar energy to $1 per watt, or roughly 5-6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

ASME President Victoria Rockwell and IEEE-USA President-Elect Marc Apter then presented awards to the Honorable Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and Honorable Rush Holt (D-N.J.), co-chairs of the Congressional Research and Development Caucus, in recognition of their “leadership and commitment in developing sound science, engineering and technology policies” and “support for research and education that promote U.S. technological leadership and economic prosperity.” Reps. Biggert and Holt thanked the leaders of the 33 engineering societies that were listed on the awards, and encouraged them to continue their efforts to promote research and development.

The conference co-chairs formed the Congressional R&D Caucus (www.researchcaucus.org) to highlight the importance of research and development, and illuminate the interdependency of research efforts across disciplines to our nation’s future.

Dr. Kesh Narayanan, deputy assistant director for the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) at the National Science Foundation, concluded the program by providing a detailed overview of the NSF’s FY 2013, emphasizing OneNSF, which centers around investments involving ENG and one or more partnerships, such as directorates, offices, other federal agencies, and private industry.

Following the conclusion of the symposium, outreach to congressional leaders continued, as attendees met with their congressional representatives in the House and Senate to discuss science and engineering budget priorities, and urge sustained federal funding to support research and development. 

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