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Blog Category: National Institute of Standards and Technology

President Obama Announces $400M for Manufacturing Hubs and Skills Training

This week President Obama made some major announcements that will help create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.

Specifically, President Obama launched two new competitions for manufacturing and innovation institutes, one in smart manufacturing at the Department of Energy, and one in flexible hybrid electronics at the Department of Defense. Each institute will receive $70 million or more of federal investment to be matched by at least $70 million from the private sector, for a total of more than $290 million in new investment.

This announcement fulfills the President’s 2014 State of the Union pledge to launch four new institutes this year, for a total of eight institutes launched so far, and puts the Administration past the halfway mark on the President’s original goal of creating 15 manufacturing innovation institutes supported through executive action. These institutes are critical to ensuring the United States maintains its global leadership in innovation.

The Department of Commerce is committed to the President’s vision of creating a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing institutes over the next 10 years, which will require Congress to pass legislation. Secretary Pritzker has advocated for the passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish NNMI. Specifically, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act would create a network of up to 15 regional institutes nationwide. The legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

NNMI would play a critical role in boosting America’s industrial competitiveness by supporting innovative technology development. Support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs will help strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, two key priorities of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”  

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

When you’re striving for excellence, it helps to have an example. It’s much easier to work hard on something when you’ve seen others succeed despite obstacles. A highlight each year at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the annual awards ceremony. This is where NIST celebrates operational excellence through the many achievements of its scientific, engineering, administrative and other support staff members. 

This year the agency was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker provide remarks at the event.

As NIST employees left the ceremony Wednesday, they had almost 200 examples of operational excellence to pick from for role models—people who had done amazing things. Since NIST is a research agency, many were technical stars who had:

NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

 NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $2.5 million in grants to 10 Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers to pilot online regional business-to-business network projects. The networks will help match buyers and sellers of technologies or products and services in support of small and midsize manufacturers.

“The Commerce Department is committed to keeping our small and medium-size manufacturers globally competitive,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The Manufacturing Extension Partnership grants announced today are an example of our efforts to invest in cutting-edge technologies through public-private collaboration.”

Each awardee will receive a total of $250,000 for a two-year project. The pilots are designed to be scalable and interoperable to help determine if they might be expanded into a national network or a series of regional ones. The networks are expected to include technologies available at federal laboratories and universities and, therefore, enhance the framework for collaboration between the private and public sectors through the nationwide network of MEP centers.

“One of NIST-MEP’s goals is to improve the productivity of our domestic supply chains,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “These projects will demonstrate a variety of innovative approaches to doing that by connecting small firms with larger corporations.”

The awardees and their projects are:

Oregon MEP (Portland, Ore.)
The Northwest Connectory Business-to-Business Network (NWB2B) will bring together Oregon MEP, Impact Washington (State of Washington MEP), the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalitionand partnering trade associations, manufacturers, suppliers and other public-sector organizations in a regional consortium that will develop and maintain the pilot network. The business-to-business exchange tool they create will help manufacturers scout for local customers and suppliers, solicit bids, promote and seek emerging technologies and other related activities. The NWB2B project will build upon the existing NW Connectory, an online buyer-supplier network for Pacific Northwest manufacturing and technology companies that already contains vetted, full-text searchable profiles of more than 4,700 companies located in the Northwest.

Catalyst Connection (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
The Pennsylvania Network for Open Innovation will use an open innovation business model that instills a culture of innovation in small and medium-size manufacturing enterprises, increases their speed to market with more promising innovations, and thus, accelerates their business growth. It will leverage existing strong relationships and resources during the initiative, and the model will provide a basis for nationwide replication.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker Announces Four U.S. Organizations Honored With 2014 Baldrige National Quality Award

 Commerce Secretary Pritzker Announces Four U.S. Organizations Honored With 2014 Baldrige National Quality Award

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that four U.S. organizations are recipients of the 2014 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. 

The 2014 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

An independent board of examiners recommended this year’s Baldrige Award recipients from a field of 22 applicants after evaluating them in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. An organization may compete for the award in one of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit (including government agencies).

Thousands of organizations worldwide use the Baldrige Criteria to guide their operations, improve performance and get sustainable results.

The criteria, which are regularly updated, help organizations reach their goals, improve results and become more competitive by aligning plans, processes, people, decisions and actions vital to achieving ongoing success. More than 30 independent Baldrige-based award programs covering nearly all 50 states. Internationally, the program has served as a model for nearly 100 excellence programs.

From 2010-2013, Baldrige Award applicants represented nearly 500,000 jobs, more than $77 billion in revenue and budgets, and more than 400 million customers served.

A December 2011 study measuring the Baldrige Program's value to U.S. organizations conservatively estimated a benefit-to-cost ratio of 820 to 1, while a 2011 report by Truven Health Analytics found that health care organizations that have won or been in the final review process for a Baldrige Award outperform other hospitals in all but one metric the company uses to determine its "100 Top Hospitals" in the nation (and were six times more likely to be among the top 100). A study of the six organizations to win two Baldrige Awards found that for the years between awards their median growth in revenue was 93 percent and the median growth in jobs was 66 percent. The job growth was significantly higher than the average growth in jobs of 2.5 percent for matched industries and time periods.

NIST Celebrates World Internet Day: NIST Identifies Programs that help Private Industry and Academia Work toward better Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity (keyboard with a key silhouette on it)

On Oct. 29, 1969, the first electronic message was sent on ARPANET, the precursor to today’s Internet. Despite crashing the system, that message is the reason today is designated International Internet Day. To mark the day, and the approaching end of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Charles Romine, Director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has summarized NIST’s work on improving the security of the Internet and IT systems.

NIST has been conducting cybersecurity research for as long as there has been a cyberspace to secure.  NIST issues the Federal Information Processing Standards that help to protect the federal government’s information systems and help agencies comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act. These standards and guidelines are often used by the private sector and state and local governments, and therefore have a broad impact on IT systems across the country and around the world.

Through the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), which was established in collaboration with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md., we have been working directly with the private sector since 2012. The center’s goal is to accelerate the adoption of secure technologies through public-private collaborations that identify and address today’s most pressing cybersecurity challenges. We recently awarded a contract to establish the first Federally Funded Research and Development Center devoted to cybersecurity to support the NCCoE, providing needed flexibility in staffing and bringing in partners from industry and academia.

Two Years after Sandy Landfall, Commerce Continues to Help Affected Communities

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

In the two years since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, the Department of Commerce, through its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Census Bureau, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been working to help communities recover and enhance resiliency in the face of future storms.

Hours after the storm hit, NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey began aerial survey missions to assess storm damage. In total, 1649 miles of coastline were documented. The photos taken on these missions provided emergency and coastal managers with the information they needed to develop recovery strategies, facilitate search-and-rescue efforts, identify hazards to navigation and HAZMAT spills, locate errant vessels, and provide documentation home and business owners needed to assess damages to property. To date, FEMA has used the NOAA-supplied photos, as well as those from the Civil Air Patrol, to determine damage to 35,000 homes.

Following a major disaster like Sandy, one of EDA’s key roles is to lead the Economic Recovery Support Function on behalf of the Department of Commerce. After the hurricane struck, EDA joined with several other federal agencies to deploy staff to help hard-hit communities throughout the region. EDA team members worked with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, economic development partners, and the affected communities to identify long-term strategies that aim to help the communities restore their local economies, expedite recovery, and minimize economic losses.

Oct. 3, Manufacturing is in the Neighborhood

Oct. 3, Manufacturing is in the Neighborhood

Guest blog post by Mark Schmit and Zara Brunner, National Institute of Standards and Technology

The first Friday of the month might not normally stand out, but the first Friday of October is a very big deal to us at the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) program. Every day we help small and mid-size manufactures innovate and grow, but tomorrow we help them celebrate Manufacturing Day (MFG Day).

On MFG Day, the public gets the chance to see what modern manufacturing is all about and we’re hoping you’ll join us at one of more than 1,500 open houses, factory tours, job fairs and other events across the country. There’s a good chance there’s something exciting happening not far from your own neighborhood.

Manufacturing plays an important role in our economy at both the national and local levels. It’s responsible for 12.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and every day, more than 16 million of our neighbors go to work in manufacturing. Many of them have been hard at work for months planning MFG Day activities with their companies, local MEP centers and communities.

MFG Day reflects the diversity of manufacturing. Manufacturers are hosting events in fields as ranging from consumables, textiles, cosmetics, optics, electronics, aerospace, energy, robotics, to nanotechnology and more. Visitors will learn how they make everything from ukuleles, jeans and jewelry, motorcycles, and airplanes, to one million cookies an hour.

Three Takeaways from National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day

Secretary Pritzker enjoying NNMI Day with Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day on Capitol Hill event. She was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown, Reps. Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed, several business leaders and the directors of the newly established pilot Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation. NNMI Day was an opportunity to showcase the successes of the four pilot institutes in North Carolina, Youngstown, Chicago, and Detroit in the areas of additive, digital, electronics, and modern metals manufacturing. In early 2014, President Obama announced a new competition for the next manufacturing innovation institute, focused on composites materials and structures, which is the first of four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight pilot institutes nationwide.

During the event Thursday, Hill staffers and other attendees had the opportunity to hear from the pilot institute directors and several private sector partners about how a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would help improve U.S. competitiveness, increase domestic production and accelerate development of an advanced manufacturing workforce.

The following are three main takeaways from the speakers and panelists:

Commerce’s NIST Megacities Project on Improving Accuracy of Greenhouse Gas Measurements Named ‘Project to Watch’ by United Nations

Sensors located around Los Angeles provide measurements of greenhouse gas mixing ratios of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. Aircraft, mobile laboratories and satellites contribute remote-sensing measurement.

A greenhouse gas field measeurment research program developed by scientists at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several collaborating institutions has been named a “Project to Watch” by a United Nations organization that focuses on harnessing big data for worldwide benefit. 

The Megacities Carbon Project was launched in 2012 to solve a pressing scientific problem: how to measure the greenhouse gases that cities produce. Urban areas generate at least 70 percent of the world’s fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, but gauging a city’s carbon footprint remains difficult due to the lack of effective measurement methods. The project aims to change that by developing and testing techniques for both monitoring urban areas’ emissions and determining their sources.

The large sensor networks that each city in the Megacities Carbon Project employs generate huge amounts of data that could reveal the details of the cities’ emissions patterns. It is the project’s use of this so-called “big data” that drew accolades in the Big Data Climate Challenge, hosted by U.N. Global Pulse and the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team. The ability to analyze big data—vast quantities of electronic information generated by many sources—has the potential to provide new insights into the workings of society, and Global Pulse is working to promote awareness of the opportunities big data presents across the U.N. system.

Launched in May 2014, the competition attracted submissions from organizations in 40 countries. The applicants ran from academia to private companies to government initiatives like the Megacities Carbon Project. Two projects earned top honors, while a total of seven were dubbed Projects to Watch.

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

The U.S. Department of Commerce's today announced researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have earned a 2014 GCN Award for Information Technology Excellence* for speeding development and delivery of secure, battlefield-handy—and sometimes lifesaving—smartphone apps to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The four-year NIST effort included distilling soldiers’ needs into app requirements, evaluating app performance, and designing a unique smartphone security architecture. It is among 10 GCN-recognized public-sector projects “showing the power of mobile technology to transform the government IT enterprise.”

The NIST team of engineers and computer scientists was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Transformative Apps (TransApps) program. Working with soldiers, contract app developers and others, NIST contributed two brands of expertise—cybersecurity and software performance evaluation. And it organized the collaboration to accomplish DARPA’s objective, "Develop a diverse array of militarily relevant software applications using an innovative new development and acquisition process."

Within about a year after its 2010 start, DARPA-funded collaborators delivered a batch of commercially available smartphones and an initial set of secure, soldier-defined apps to an Army brigade in Afghanistan. By 2013, about 4,000 mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) were deployed in Afghanistan, and an online apps store was up and running for soldiers. The site now features about 60 apps—from map displays to a calculator for estimating blast distances to language games—and it offers regular upgrades.

One of the most popular apps is HeatMap, which color codes routes to indicate frequency of troop use, helping soldiers to vary their travel patterns.