April 2010 IEEE News

Former NAE President William Wulf Urges Scientists & Engineers to Revive Recommendations in ‘Gathering Storm’ in Speech to U.S. IEEE Members

NASHVILLE, TENN. (6 March 2010) — Scientists and engineers should encourage Congress to revive the recommendations outlined in the 2005 National Academies report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,” IEEE Fellow and former National Academy of Engineering President William A. Wulf said at the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting on Saturday morning.

“The momentum has clearly subsided,” Wulf said at the Nashville Airport Marriott. “If IEEE-USA and other societies get vocal about it, I think we can get the momentum back.”

A video of Wulf’s address will be posted at www.ieeeusa.org. Session recaps from the meeting are available at http://ieee-usa.blogspot.com/

 

“Gathering Storm” drew strong bipartisan support from the highest levels of Congress, including, among others, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and outgoing House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.). The Bush administration incorporated many of the report’s recommendations into its American Competitiveness Initiative. The report also served as the basis for the America COMPETES Act of 2007. But the law was an authorization bill, meaning that Congress only granted the authority to fund it.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — the stimulus bill — fully funded America COMPETES in the FY 2010 federal budget. The caveat is that it was a one-time infusion of dollars, not a sustained long-term investment.

“Politicians like to solve immediate problems but they’re not good at solving longer-term problems,” Wulf said. “I think they want to do the right thing but there’s an enormous cynicism about their ability to get it done. The extreme partisanship in Washington is a real impediment to getting anything done.”

Wulf, who served as NAE president from 1997-2007, said the four major recommendations of “Gathering Storm” focused on producing an educated workforce, starting at the K-12 level; attracting and keeping top scientists and engineers from the around the world; increasing research funding; and enhancing the innovation environment, e.g. venture capital, corporate taxes and the permanent R&D tax credit. Improvements in these areas have for the most part not been implemented.

“We need a vibrant research base and a good educational system but we have to have more than that,” said Wulf, the AT&T professor of computer science and university professor at the University of Virginia. “We need a culture that promotes risk-taking, tax laws that promote investment, intellectual property protection and laws that protect the public and encourage innovation.

“The strength of the United States has been its ability to innovate.”

One recommendation that has come to reality, Wulf pointed out, is ARPA-E, a DARPA-like entity within the Department of Energy that funds high-risk, high-return research. DARPA — Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — developed the Internet for the Department of Defense.

Wulf noted that because the National Academies is not an advocacy body, it is important for organizations like IEEE-USA to influence public policy. He specifically recommended that U.s. IEEE members visit their local congressional offices and lobby on behalf of “Gathering Storm’s” key findings.

“I’m pleased that IEEE-USA is stepping up to support ‘Gathering Storm,'” Wulf said. “IEEE members can play a key role.”

IEEE Fellow, Former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine Addresses Role of Science & Engineering in U.S. Job Creation at IEEE-USA Annual Meeting

NASHVILLE, TENN. (5 March 2010) — Innovation is the key for the United States to thrive in an increasingly global economy, IEEE Fellow Norman R. Augustine said at the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting on Friday morning.

Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, chaired the committee that produced the 2005 report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.” He said Friday the focus of report was jobs, not just in science and engineering but all occupations.

Augustine added that while only 4 percent of jobs in the U.S. workforce are held by engineers and scientists, they play a pivotal role creating jobs for the other 96 percent.

“That’s why the average citizen should be concerned about the state of science and engineering in our country,” Augustine said in his keynote address at the Nashville Airport Marriott.

The theme for IEEE-USA’s yearly gathering of volunteer leaders is, “The Gathering Storm: Are You Engineering the Solutions?” To follow the sessions, go to the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting blog at http://ieee-usa.blogspot.com/.
 
Augustine lamented that many of the challenges facing the country in 2005 are still confronting us today. He cited statistics showing the U.S. K-12 education system still “performing abysmally” by international standards. This doesn’t bode well for a nation trying to maintain its position as the world leader in science, engineering and technology.

“Aviation and informatics has brought the world together, leading to the death of distance,” Augustine said. U.S. citizens now have to “compete for jobs with their neighbors from all around the world. … If we are going to compete, it’s going to have to be through innovation.”
 
“Rising Above the Gathering Storm” served as the basis for the America COMPETES Act of 2007, legislation that bolsters research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and improves educational programs. The authorization bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives, 397-20, and the Senate, 88-8, and was signed into law by former President George W. Bush. IEEE-USA lobbied strongly in favor of the bill.

America COMPETES was fully funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which President Barack Obama signed into law.

A video of Augustine’s speech will be available soon on the IEEE-USA homepage.

Former NAE President & Science Debate 2008 Co-Founder Honored by IEEE-USA for Distinguished Public Service

WASHINGTON (9 March 2010) — IEEE Fellow and former National Academy of Engineering (NAE) President William Wulf and Science Debate 2008 co-founder Shawn Otto were honored with the IEEE-USA Award for Distinguished Public Service on Saturday night.

The awards, presented during the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., recognize individuals not currently practicing engineering for contributions that further IEEE-USA’s professional goals.

Wulf was honored “for advancing engineering professionalism and promoting U.S. competitiveness in science and technology.”

Otto drew recognition “for taking the lead to elevate science and technology in America’s public dialogue through Science Debate 2008.”

Wulf, the AT&T professor of computer science and university professor at the University of Virginia, received the first Ph.D. Virginia conferred in computer science in 1968. He taught at Carnegie-Mellon University and was founder and CEO of Tartan Laboratories in Pittsburgh. As assistant director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), he was responsible for computing research, the national supercomputer centers and NSFnet, the nation’s first high-speed Internet backbone network.

Wulf served from 1997-2007 as president of NAE, which was founded to provide engineering leadership that promotes the technological health of the nation. During his tenure, the National Academies issued “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,” a report that recommended 20 steps the United States should take to remain the world’s innovation leader.

Otto is a screenwriter, director, producer, political consultant, entrepreneur and CEO of Science Debate 2008, a nonprofit organization he and five others founded “to restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue.”

The organization is best known for having the two major 2008 presidential candidates provide written answers to 14 questions on the role of science and technology in America’s future. Completed during the summer of 2008, it was the first time endorsed candidates for president had produced such detailed science policies. Topics included, among others, innovation, energy, education, national security, scientific integrity, research and health. See the Q&A at http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=42/.

IEEE-USA was an organizational signer of Science Debate 2008: http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=7.

Here’s the full list of IEEE-USA’s 2009 award recipients:
Award for Distinguished Public Service
Shawn Otto
For taking the lead to elevate science and technology in America’s public dialogue through Science Debate 2008

William Wulf *
For advancing engineering professionalism and promoting U.S. competitiveness in science and technology

Citation of Honor
Thomas C. Jepsen
For leadership in advancing the vital role of technology in medical policy and healthcare delivery

Mitchell A. Thornton
For contributions to the advancement of software engineering licensure in the United States

Regional Professional Leadership Award
Loretta J. Arellano
For leadership in volunteer development in Region 6

G. Thomas Bellarmine
For leadership in PACE (Professional Activities Committees for Engineers) activities in Region 3

Carole C. Carey
For establishing a Women in Engineering professional development seminar in Region 2 that rotates through IEEE U.S. regions

Uri Moszkowicz
For leadership in GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) and student activities in Region 1

Darlene Rivera
For leadership in Women in Engineering activities in Region 1

Divisional Professional Leadership Award
Kevin Taylor
For leadership integrating IEEE Power & Energy Society participation in the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting

Professional Achievement for Individuals
Gary Bishop
For leadership in support of GOLD and K-12 activities

Kheng Swee Goh
For leadership in GOLD and S-PAC (Student Professional Awareness Committee) activities inspiring young professionals

Mike Hayes
For leadership in organizing the Engineering Expo in Syracuse, N.Y.

Vishnu Pandey
For leadership in increasing GOLD participation at the 2009 IEEE-USA Annual Meeting

John Richardson
For leadership in preparing IEEE-USA’s response to the FCC in the matter of “A National Broadband Plan for Our Future”

Gordon Young
For engaging local industry in the 2009 IEEE-USA Annual Meeting

Professional Achievement for Organizations
Boeing
For promoting diversity in the workforce and environmental awareness, and for outstanding support of U.S. IEEE members

Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering the Public Understanding of the Profession
Randy Atkins
For increasing public understanding of the profession through weekly radio “Engineering Innovation” reports

Holly Morris
For increasing public understanding of the profession through live television reporting of the National Engineers Week Future City Competition

Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering Engineering Professionalism
Lee Howard
For investigative reports on the misuse of the H-1B visa program

Harry Diamond Award
James M. McGarrity
For contributions to the understanding of radiation effects in microelectronics and to the development of defense electronics for harsh environments

Precollege Teacher-Engineer Partnership Award
George Haus and Richard Sanders
For enhancing the learning experience of precollege students through a wide range of scientific activities
IEEE-USA awards are approved by the organization’s board of directors. The nomination deadline for 2010 awards is 31 July 2010. For additional information, go to www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/committees/awards or contact Sandra Kim at sandra.kim@ieee.org.

* 2008 honoree

Biogas Technology with Potential to Save Thousands of Lives to be Featured at IEEE Green Technologies Conference in Grapevine, Texas

WASHINGTON (31 March 2010) — About 1.6 million people — mostly women and children — die each year from indoor air pollution caused by cooking and heating with wood, dung, coal or crop waste, according to the World Health Organization.

Justin Henriques, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Virginia and co-executive director of Least of These International (LOTI), thinks he might have an answer to help solve the problem.

The IEEE student member will present findings on his biogas digester system at the IEEE Green Technologies Conference, 15-16 April, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. Early registration has been extended to Friday, 2 April. http://www.ieeegreentech.org

Speaking on the ScienceNews Radio Network show Promise of Tomorrow (http://www.promiseoftomorrow.biz/bizradio/032110/032110.htm), Henriques explained how his team updated 1930s biogas digester technology to allow the units to convert animal waste into enough methane gas daily to sustain a household of eight. The difference from previous attempts to utilize such fuel sources, he said, is the compact size, ease of construction, sustainability through easily available materials, low cost and rapid installation via a pre-packaged system.

The fuel Henriques and the LOTI team used in Western Kenya was a mixture of cow manure and water. “Through that anaerobic fermentation process, you actually kill most of the pathogens that would cause sickness from the manure in the first place,” Henriques said on the program.

The conference will explore emerging technologies in renewable energy, alternative fuel, alternative vehicle power sources and technologies to promote energy conservation in the home and business. It will also look at the social, economic and political impacts of renewable energy sources, as well as the social and economic impact of new technologies.

IEEE-USA and Oncor, the largest regulated electric delivery business in Texas, are cosponsors of the IEEE Green Technologies Conference. Oncor Senior Vice President Jim Greer, who oversees asset management and engineering, will be a keynote speaker on 16 April and discuss his company’s Smart Grid Initiative.
 
Representatives from the following universities, among others, are participating: the University of Tokyo; Birla Institute of Technology, India; the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; Southern Illinois University; University of Southern California; Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; and the University of Texas at Arlington.

IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE. http://www.ieeeusa.org