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Blog Category: Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick D. Gallagher

$26 Million Competition to Help Accelerate Growth of Advanced Manufacturing and Clusters

$26 Million Competition to Help Accelerate Growth of Advanced Manufacturing and Clusters

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, and Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing based on new technologies, is a sector of vital importance to America’s economic viability—both to businesses and the people they employ. A recent study conducted by the Department of Commerce bears this out: Manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private-sector research and development (R&D), 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports. And the benefits accrue to manufacturing workers, since they earn pay and benefits that are about 17 percent higher than average.

That is why the $26 million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, supported by 14 Federal agencies and announced today by the Obama administration, is so important.

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs Accelerator is a competition to help grow industry clusters by strengthening connections to regional economic development opportunities; enhance a region’s capacity to create high-quality sustainable jobs; develop a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce; encourage the development of small businesses; and accelerate technological innovation. 

At the Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) are leveraging resources, along with the Departments of Energy and Labor, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the National Science Foundation, to support public-private partnerships to spur economic and job growth in manufacturing clusters. Approximately 12 projects are expected to be chosen. This is the third in a series of multiagency Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenges since 2011.

Winners of the 2011 challenge, which was funded by EDA, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and the SBA, have already begun to foster business growth and create jobs. For example, in the Greater Kansas City area, eight regional organizations joined together to form the Kansas City Jobs Accelerator. This organization is helping the advanced manufacturing and information technology cluster in the bi-state region by identifying game-changing technologies and processes and putting them in the hands of small businesses and talented entrepreneurs. Their tactics include coordinating research resources, helping prepare workers for careers in advanced manufacturing, and creating a clearinghouse for regional cluster and commercialization information.

Manufacturing: Key to an Innovation-Based Economy

Under Secretary of Commerce and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher (left) participates in panel on advanced manufacturing

Scientists, industry leaders and public officials came together this week for a dialogue on innovation at The Atlantic's “From Inspiration to Innovation Summit,” held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va. Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Patrick Gallagher was among the invited speakers on the panel, “Advanced Manufacturing: Made in America. . . Again?”

Responding to a question about NIST’s role in supporting manufacturing, Gallagher pointed out that the agency’s mission goes back more than 110 years. Then, and now, that mission has been to ensure that U.S. industries have the infrastructure of measurements, standards, and technology they need to be competitive in global markets, particularly manufacturing-based industries. That mission is even more important today, when so much manufacturing is tied to advanced technology, and our research and development—our ability to innovate—is deeply embedded in our manufacturing capability.

Two New Advanced Laboratories Open at NIST Boulder and JILA

Ribbon cutting to dedicate the new JILA X-Wing addition at the University of Colorado Boulder. Left to right: Tom O'Brian, chief of the NIST Quantum Physics Division; Philip DiStefano, Chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder; NIST Director Patrick Gallagher; and Eric Cornell, JILA Department Chair and Nobel Laureate. ((Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado))

Two new advanced laboratory buildings for high-precision science and measurements have officially opened in Boulder, Colo., providing upgraded facilities to support technology innovation and economic growth as well as the training of future scientists.

Federal, state and local government officials, university leaders, and Nobel laureates were among those attending the April 13, 2012, dedication ceremonies and tours at the new Precision Measurement Laboratory (PML) on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Boulder and at the new X-Wing at JILA, a joint venture of NIST and the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder. JILA is located on the CU-Boulder campus.

Both new laboratories tightly control environmental conditions such as vibration and temperature, as is required for cutting-edge research with lasers, atomic clocks, nanotechnology and other areas of study at NIST and JILA. Both new buildings also have capabilities for micro- and nanofabrication of custom research devices. The original NIST-Boulder and JILA laboratories were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher cut the ribbon to officially open the PML, which will house some of NIST's best-known experiments and technologies, including NIST-F1, the U.S. civilian standard atomic clock.

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

According to a recent industry study, cyber crimes cost the global economy $388 billion annually in both direct financial losses and the value of lost time dealing with the effects of cyber crime. The study found that about 431 million adults are victims of cyber crime each year.

Another recent study found that annual cyber crime costs for larger U.S. companies averaged about $5.9 million each with a 44 percent increase in the number of successful cyber attacks compared to the previous year.

To help organizations better protect themselves from such threats, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new partnership to establish the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.  The Center will operate as a public-private collaboration for accelerating the widespread adoption of integrated cybersecurity tools and technologies. The State of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md., are co-sponsoring the Center with NIST, which will work to strengthen U.S. economic growth by supporting automated and trustworthy e-government and e-commerce.

U.S. Senator for Maryland Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett were at NIST in Gaithersburg, Md., today to announce the partnership with Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.

Public-Private Standards Efforts to Make America Strong

Blog post by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and Director of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology

Standards—agreed upon parameters such as the size and shape of electrical outlets, the number of threads per inch on machine bolts, or the tolerances allowed for various medical tests—are critical to American competitiveness, technological innovation, and global trade because they facilitate manufacturing, speed delivery, and enable the widespread use of countless products and services in the market today. Standards also play a key role in public safety, as a new report (PDF) makes clear.

Most standards are developed and adopted by industry, but in cases where we face national challenges, the Federal Government can help accelerate the process.

That’s why the administration recently highlighted its commitment to the United States’ industry-led, voluntary and consensus-driven standards system with the release of a White House Memorandum that lays out principles for Federal engagement in standards activities that address national priorities. The administration recognizes the importance of the Federal Government working with the private sector to address common standards-related needs and taking on a convening or active-engagement role when necessary to ensure a rapid, coherent response to national challenges.  Full joint blog by Chopra and Gallagher

NIST Colleagues Congratulate Shechtman on Nobel Chemistry Prize

Meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1985 just months after shaking the foundations of materials science with publication of his discovery of quasicrystals, Daniel Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, discusses the material’s surprising atomic structure with collaborators.  From left to right are Shechtman; Frank Biancaniello, NIST; Denis Gratias, National Science Research Center, France;  John Cahn, NIST; Leonid Bendersky, Johns Hopkins University (now at NIST); and Robert Schaefer, NIST.

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) colleagues of Dan Shechtman joined others in the scientific community today in congratulating him on winning the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Shechtman made his astonishing discovery of a quasicrystal—an arrangement of atoms thought to be forbidden by nature—while working as a guest researcher at NIST (then known as the National Bureau of Standards) in 1982.

Shechtman is currently a professor at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion).

“We are thrilled that Dr. Shechtman’s pioneering work has been recognized with this well-deserved prize,” said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "This discovery completely changed the thinking of scientists about unusual arrangements of atoms within crystals and ultimately helped them to fabricate a wide range of new types of materials.”   Read the NIST release

High Tech in Rural America

Worker from PRO-TEC inspecting coated steel (Photo: PRO-TEC)

Guest blog post by Patrick D. Gallagher, Commerce's Undersecretary of Standards and Technology and Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

That’s right. Rural America is also high tech. From the plains of the heartland to the cattle lands of the West and the rolling hills of farmlands in the East, our smaller communities are home to high-tech businesses that help expand U.S. exports and provide high-skilled, high-paying jobs.

Today, I was honored to take a tour of one such company, PRO-TEC Coating Co. in Leipsic, Ohio, population 2,093. The company employs about 250 people in a state-of-the-art facility surrounded by corn and soybean fields in the northwest corner of the state.  A joint venture between U.S. Steel Corporation and Kobe Steel Ltd. of Japan, PRO-TEC manufactures ultra high-strength coated steel, primarily for the auto industry.  The company is currently constructing an advanced $400 million continuous annealing processing line with an annual capacity of 500,000 tons that will expand its current capacity by 50 percent and create new manufacturing jobs.

Commerce Announces Appointment of First-Ever Chief Manufacturing Officer

Portrait of Molnar

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced the appointment of the agency’s first-ever Chief Manufacturing Officer. The manufacturing sector is critical to the U.S. economy, and the Obama administration is committed to building domestic manufacturing capabilities to create the new products, new industries and new jobs of the future. The new position will leverage NIST’s strong relationships with industry to accelerate innovation that will create 21st-century manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.

As Chief Manufacturing Officer, manufacturing industry executive Michael F. Molnar will be responsible for planning and coordination of the Institute’s broad array of manufacturing research and services programs and will support the broader Advanced Manufacturing Partnership recently launched by President Obama that brings industry, universities and the federal government together to invest in emerging technologies. NIST is particularly well-positioned to support this goal because of its unique mission to work closely with industry.

Molnar has extensive industrial experience, with past leadership roles in manufacturing technology, advanced manufacturing engineering, metrology and quality systems. He will serve as the central point of contact with the White House, the Department of Commerce and other agencies on technical and policy issues related to manufacturing.