On April 25, ASME once again served as the lead organizer for the annual Engineering Public Policy Symposium. The Symposium, now in its 14th year, brought together 150 leaders — including presidents, presidents-elect and executive directors — from 44 engineering societies, representing more than two million engineers. The Symposium was convened in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Convocation, held in Washington, D.C., the previous day.
Symposium attendees met in the Rayburn House Office Building for most of the day and heard from thought leaders, government officials, Congressional members, and staff from both sides of the aisle about policy priorities pertaining to federal investments in engineering and science to spur innovation and competiveness.
The Symposium is designed to inform and engage leaders of the engineering community on public policy issues that are important to advancing research and technology. Engineers play a vital role in meeting the challenges currently facing the nation and our future workforce, and the Symposium provides a platform for them to stay engaged in public policies that affect virtually every aspect of the engineering profession.
Charla Wise, president-elect of ASME, opened the meeting by thanking the 44 co-sponsors, and spoke of the need for robust investments in the science and engineering research enterprise to ensure the United States remains a global leader in innovation and economic growth. She was followed by an in-depth review of the status of federal funding for science and engineering research by Matt Hourihan, director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program at American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Hourihan provided enlightening contrasts between recent Congressional appropriations on R&D and several of the recent proposals from the Trump Administration to reduce R&D funding at key science and engineering agencies.
Following Hourihan’s presentation, Stephen Moore, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, and Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, took part in the discussion, “Divergent Views on Federal Investments for Engineering and Science to Spur Innovation, Productivity and Competitiveness.”
The program also included a panel session, “Federal Agencies: Research and Technologies,” featuring Philip Singerman, Ph.D., associate director, Innovation and Industry Services, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Barry W. Johnson, Ph.D., acting assistant director, Directorate for Engineering, National Science Foundation; and Timothy Unruh, Ph.D., deputy assistant secretary for renewable power, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, U.S. Department of Energy. The panel session was moderated by ASME Executive Director Thomas Loughlin.
At the conclusion of the Symposium, several ASME Early Career Leadership Intern Program to Serve Engineering (ECLIPSE) interns and other attendees took the opportunity to go on Congressional visits in their senators’ and representatives’ offices.