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Engineering-LEAP | Dale Larsen: Fall #4 Policy & Government



1. Students will compare policies & laws on their technology from government entities around the world and develop and assessment of barriers to its implementation

2. Students will learn how governments communicate engineering problems & solutions on the web and why

3. Students will learn about government policy analysis from a formal perspective (scholarship) and an informal perspective (newspapers and public opinion)


Whether you like politicians or not, what they happen to believe (at that moment) may mean boom or bust for your technology.

Ron Edmonds. (1993). President Bill Clinton prepares to address a joint session of Congress on his economic plan, in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Feb. 17, 1993 [Online]. Available: AP Images from Accuweather Web site:

So you think you have a great idea, hmm?  Well as long as your competition holds that lovely government contract, there's little interest coming your way.  While the individual consumer can be powerful in changing the direction of technology development, a real motivator is when a national government drives a dump-truck load of money up and dumps it on your project.  Here's how to find who did just that:

Social Explorer (census data and more!)

PAIS International (public policy database)
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
CQ Researcher (overviews of policy and newsmakers in North America)
GreenFile (worth mentioning again this week)

AP Images (find a photo of the problem your technology solves)

US Newsstream


SPECIAL: Search for Impact! (in-class demo)

Web of Science 








Tax (taxes, "tax break")

Name of a country (Australia, Denmark, etc.)




regulate (regulation)
(environmental/economic/social -remember those 'big 3'?)

In-class assignment

Assignment Sample: Finding policies that talk about a technology, or a component or system related to that technology -and comparing how two different countries might approach it.  (click on thumbnail for my sample with Motorcycles)


policy from the U.S. and other countries

Searching the open web for resources.

Many worldwide governments would like you to know what they're working on related to policy as they're actively working on sustainability problems (maybe poverty, communications, health, pollution, etc.).  Companies and engineers will look for large or small jobs by searching for these and then offer solutions on a wide scale from very small to country wide.
Search for "your technology" and RFP (or "request for proposals") on the open web for more.  
Note: it may help to search for a specific country/government/company if you want to narrow down the search.

Searching governments for resources.

Many governments also are legally obligated to put their policies (and policy considerations) online for the world to see -like the United States.  Some typical starting places are: (first place to visit -contains everything below)

Department of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
National Nanotechnology Initiative
Department of Transportation
Bureau of Reclamation -primarily about water, but take a look for your specific tech too.

Search for "your technology" and "government policy" on the open web for governments outside the U.S.
Search for "your technology" and a specific state/nation for a more focused search (California has a ton, for example)

Global resources.
Other online groups at an international level working on sustainability and policy research:

The World Bank

The United Nations

Very local resources.
​Other online groups at an international level working on sustainability and policy research:

SLC Green (local policy)

Also note that since states are responsible for enforcing EPA standards, most cities/states will have some sort of environmental/sustainability office (hopefully online).  For example, here is the one for Utah: 

video of the week

Part of automobile safety is the technology and design that go into a vehicle, but another part is the government policy on what is acceptable in a country.  For example, seat belts, air bags, strategic frame reinforcements, etc. were around long before they were required in new cars in the U.S. -and they're still not universally required in other countries:

Example of current models sold under the safety policies of different countries:
"2015 Nissan Tsuru vs. 2016 Nissan Versa." [Online]. Available:


And the video below is and example of a current model vs. a much older one:
"IIHS 50th anniversary crash test." [Online]. Available:

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