Engineering Public Policy Symposium Highlights Big Data, Energy, and Manufacturing Policy Priorities: Sponsored by 44 Engineering Societies


The 2015 Engineering Public Policy Symposium was recently convened in Washington, D.C. to highlight big data, energy, and manufacturing public policy issues. The annual event brought together over 100 leaders - Presidents, President-Elects and Executive Directors - from 44 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, Congress, and Federal Agencies who discussed their strategies to encourage a resurgence in the U.S. manufacturing and energy sectors and the challenges and opportunities with emerging big data. 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 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. 

Several speakers addressed the use of big data and its impact on U.S. a range of industries. Suzanne Iacono, Acting Assistant Director for Computing and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation, highlighted some of the benefits of big data, including improved efficiency in transportation systems and a more stable electric grid. Irene Qualters, Division Director of the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation, discussed the recent findings and projects undertaken by NSF to improve and develop a cyberinfrastructure that can advance the U.S. in the 21st century.

There was also a manufacturing policy panel that examined the current state of U.S. manufacturing policy and recommendations for future developments.  J.J. Raynor, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, talked about the continued progress of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.  Michael Molnar, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office at NIST discussed the successful programs run out of NIST and encouraged all Symposium participants to encourage their organizations to participate in National Manufacturing Day on October 2nd.  Robert Ivester, Deputy Director in the Advanced Manufacturing Office for the Department of Energy (DOE), talked about the successes the DOE has had investing in many new technologies.  Finally, Erik Antonsson, a member of the National Academy of Engineering’s “Making Value in America” Foundational Committee, offered a number of recommendations to move U.S. manufacturing forward in order to continue to be competitive in the global economy.

Providing perspectives from the 114th Congress, the Honorable Bruce Westerman, one of a handful of engineers in Congress, spoke about how his experience in engineering and local politics inspired him to run for office and his current efforts to bring engineering perspectives to public policy.

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 manufacturing and R&D, and to support the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015.