Heard in Washington


March 2013

Heard in Washington

Engineering news from around the nation's capital.

Pipeline Safety
Senator Jay Rockefeller, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, held a field hearing on January 28 on pipeline safety. The hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, was spurred by the December explosion of a natural gas transmission line in Sissonville. The explosion and fire completely destroyed three homes and caused extensive damage to Interstate 77.

Although pipeline safety legislation was enacted last year, Rockefeller said the bill was not perfect and stronger regulation is needed.

Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said it was too early to determine the cause of the rupture "but major pipeline safety accidents continue to be a significant transportation and public safety concern." Four weeks prior to the Sissonville accident, NTSB added pipeline safety to its list of the top 10 transportation safety issues for 2013.

Diversity Day
NSPE will cosponsor the Society of Women Engineers' 2013 Capitol Hill Day on March 20?21. While there are many Capitol Hill advocacy days for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, SWE's event is the only one aimed specifically at diversity in the STEM fields.

Go to www.nspe.org/IssuesandAdvocacy and click on "Take Action" to read NSPE's position statement on "Minorities and Women in Engineering."

Anyone who loves the wonders of science and engineering will want to mark their calendars for April 24?27, 2014. For the third time, the hugely successful USA Science and Engineering Festival will be held in Washington, D.C. More than 150,000 people attended last year's festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. It featured 3,000 exhibits and 1,500 hands-on activities, including NSPE's "pop fly" actvity, in which kids designed catapults out of duct tape, wooden spools, paint stirrers, and paper cups.

Manufacturing Innovation
President Obama is pushing ahead with a plan to create a national network of up to 15 manufacturing institutes around the country to serve as regional hubs that would help design and speed up the development of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. To help gain support for Congressional authorization, the administration's National Science and Technology Council released a report in January with suggestions for how such a network could be implemented.

Obama says he envisions the institutes as centers where partner organizations could "learn from each other and figure out how we're going to do things even better [and] to help get that next great idea from a paper or a computer to the lab, to the factory, to the global marketplace."

Society Past President Heads Procurement Council >>