Engineering Public Symposium

The 2014 Engineering Public Policy Symposium was recently convened in Washington, D.C. to highlight energy and manufacturing public policy issues. The annual event brought together over 100 leaders - Presidents, President-Elects and Executive Directors - from 43 national engineering societies, representing more than two million engineers. ASME served as the Chair and lead organizer of the Symposium, which was made possible by a grant from the United Engineering Foundation.

The day long Symposium featured key speakers from the Administration and Congress, who discussed their strategies to encourage a resurgence in the U.S. manufacturing sector and the challenges and opportunities facing the energy industry. Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, served as the event's keynote speaker, and spoke about the Administration's strong emphasis on investing in technology innovation and R&D, and in promoting a 'maker culture' in the United States. Kalil asked the engineering community for support for the President's vision for creating a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), and for assistance in promoting manufacturing events around the country - like the upcoming White House Maker Faire - to promote the maker movement and a culture that celebrates engineering and science. 

Switching to energy issues, the Honorable Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy highlighted some of the Department of Energy's priority initiatives, including the President's Climate Action Plan. Poneman's comments underscored how severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy serve as a reminder of the vulnerability of the U.S. electric grid, and the key role that engineers must play in developing strategies for adapting to and mitigating the effects of both natural and man-made threats to critical infrastructure. 

Providing perspectives from the 113th Congress, the Honorable Chris Collins, one of a handful of engineers in Congress, spoke about his efforts to bring engineering perspectives to public policy. The Honorable Tom Reed and the Honorable Tim Ryan were honored for their leadership in manufacturing policy as co-chairs of the House Manufacturing Caucus and their work in advancing manufacturing in Congress. In closing, congressional staff from Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) office discussed legislative action being taken in the Senate to improve the manufacturing base in the United States.

ASME President Madiha Kotb presented an award to the Honorable Patrick Gallagher, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce, recognizing Dr. Gallagher's leadership in promoting industrial innovation and competitiveness and advancing policies to promote U.S. leadership in science, standards, and technology. Dr. Gallagher has played an important role in promoting the NNMI, which will be supported through a mixture of public and private stakeholders and will focus on research related to manufacturing competitiveness. 

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 engineering and science budget priorities, urge sustained federal funding to support to Energy and R&D, and to support the implementation of the NNMI.