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Blog Category: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours Factory in Flint, Mich.

Photo: Veronica Artis, Executive Vice President, Genesee Packaging; Flint Mayor Dayne Walling; Dr. Blank; Jane Worthing, Chief Operating Officer, Genesee Packaging, Terence Broussard, Operations/Sales Manager, Genesee Packaging

Yesterday, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Flint, Michigan, to tour the factory floor at Genesee Packaging, Inc., along with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Genesee Packaging President and CEO Willie Artis, and other employees. Her visit followed the release of President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request Monday, where the president laid out his blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers.

Following the tour, Blank highlighted investments in the new budget proposal that will support U.S. manufacturers and help more American companies like Genesee Packaging keep making their goods here and sell them in markets abroad–both of which are top priorities of President Obama and U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. In addition, Blank participated in a roundtable with area business leaders at the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Support for Manufacturers in the President’s FY2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Yesterday the president released his FY2013 budget request and Secretary Bryson announced the Department of Commerce’s requests. In the president’s budget, there is strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation investments.

To strengthen and extend Advanced Manufacturing research, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is requesting an increase of $45M for a total of $135M. These laboratory efforts are further leveraged with a request of $21M to support the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program, and $20M for a NIST Centers of Excellence program. These programs will strengthen public-private partnerships and accelerate innovation focused on manufacturing and technology development.

The president’s budget provides $128 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to improve the competitiveness of small- and medium-size firms in manufacturing and service industries through custom consulting and product testing.

U.S. Department of Commerce FY 2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Secretary John Bryson today released the Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2013 budget request that includes support for advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, innovation investments, finds $176 million in administrative savings.

The Commerce budget makes critical investments in advanced manufacturing, innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness and trade promotion and enforcement to help create jobs. The nearly 5 percent increase reflects President Obama and Secretary Bryson’s commitment to encouraging U.S. manufacturing and helping more American companies sell their goods and services overseas. The fiscal year 2013 request is $8 billion and requests $2.3 billion in mandatory funding. The Department also identified $176 million in administrative savings, reflecting a strong commitment to wisely stewarding taxpayer dollars and making tough choices to prioritize programs that support the Department’s core mission areas.

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Advanced Manufacturing: $156 million to expand NIST research in areas such as smart manufacturing, nanomanufacturing, advanced materials, and biomanufacturing, including  $21 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program, which will provide grants to industry consortia to tackle common technological barriers to the innovation and manufacturing of new products.
  • Increasing U.S. Exports: $517 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), including several key initiatives. The administration requests $30 million for critical investments in trade promotion to help more U.S. businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders. This proposal also includes $30 million to send Foreign Commercial Service officers and locally engaged staff to high-growth markets to help support the National Export Initiative to meet the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The budget also supports a new trade enforcement unit-- the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which will significantly enhance the administration’s capabilities to aggressively challenge unfair trade practices around the world (details below).
  • Attracting Investment to the U.S.: The $517M for ITA includes $13 million for SelectUSA to encourage, facilitate and accelerate foreign direct investment in the U.S. to create jobs and spur growth.

Additionally, as part of the administration’s efforts to revitalize manufacturing, the president’s budget proposes $1 billion in mandatory funding to establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

NIST Builds Enclosure to Display and Protect the 1297 Magna Carta for the National Archives

NIST’s Brian Yanick (left) and Jay Brandenburg inspect the Magna Carta platform’s rear side after machining.  The special “nest” for the wax seal is the keyhole-shaped object at the bottom center.

On Feb. 2 when many people were focusing on groundhogs and their shadows, the National Archives focused on high-tech conservation and the freshly conserved 1297 Magna Carta, including its state-of-the-art encasement designed and built by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The first Magna Carta was signed in 1215 by King John of England after an assembly of barons forced him to put in writing for the first time the traditional rights and liberties of the country’s free persons. In 1297, King Edward I was forced to reissue the Magna Carta. This time it was entered into the official Statute Rolls of England and became the foundation of English Law. Centuries later it inspired the writers of the U.S. Constitution.

Unveiled at a briefing for the news media, the encasement is a controlled environment, something NIST’s Fabrication Technology Group builds regularly for lab research. Its cover is made of a special laminated glass with antireflective coatings to ensure maximum visibility of the document while protecting it. The tightly sealed case is filled with argon gas—which will not react with and damage the parchment as oxygen would. The encasement will be continuously monitored to ensure oxygen stays out.

NIST engineers and crafts people also built the platform on which the document sits within the protective encasement. They used a three-dimensional laser scan of the Magna Carta and its wax seal to guide a computer-controlled milling machine that cut away 90 percent of what began as a six-inch thick block of aluminum. The result is a nest of sorts to hold the parchment and its original wax seal (which still bears the likeness of Edward I). The nest makes sure the seal does not put any strain on the ribbon that attaches it to the delicate parchment document.

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

Federal Government Help for Manufacturing Companies: How Commerce Contributes

US-Made Auto Parts

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama laid out proposals for how to bring about a new era of American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped Made in the USA.  A few of the proposals are:

  • Reward companies for bringing jobs back to America.
  • Lower tax rates for companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States.
  • Get tough on trade enforcement.
  • Create more jobs and make us more competitive by rebuilding America using half of the savings from ending foreign wars.

These proposals build upon the efforts already underway by the White House.

At the Department of Commerce, we support manufacturers in a multitude of ways:

February Forums Help Manufacturers Get on Track to Build Next Generation Rail

Image of high-speed rail with multi-colored streaks

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will host two forums in February 2012 to help U.S. manufacturers prepare for upcoming opportunities to become suppliers for the next generation of railcars and locomotives. The first forum will be held Feb. 8 in Sacramento, Calif., and the second will be Feb. 15 in Chicago.

The Next Generation Rail Supply Chain Connectivity Forums will bring together large railcar builders and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with smaller, capable and interested U.S. manufacturers. Smaller manufacturers will have the chance to learn what products are needed and what investments they should consider when entering the rail industry. The idea is to identify a broader domestic supply base that includes both traditional and non-traditional rail suppliers, with the goal of 100 percent domestic content in railcars that will be funded by state and federal dollars.  Full release

NIST Research/Collaboration Efforts Key to Innovation and Economic Growth

Computer scientist Murugiah Souppaya investigates security techniques for protecting cloud computing systems from cyber attack  (Photo © Nicholas McIntosh)

Innovation drives economic growth and creates skilled, high-wage jobs. To maintain a high standard of living for its citizens, the United States must continue to produce new, high quality products and we must sell them in the global marketplace.  As Secretary John Bryson said recently, the U.S. must “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) helps U.S. companies innovate and improve their global competitiveness by providing world class laboratory results and services, business and technology assistance, and research grants.

As we look to the start of a new calendar year, here are just a few numbers that describe how NIST helps U.S. industry and science to create and retain jobs through an innovation-based economy:

  • 8 billion:  The number of times per day that computers across the United States and the world were synchronized with NIST official time over the Internet by the end of FY2011 using the automated NIST Internet Time Service. This number is continually growing. NIST official time is essential for everything from time stamping electronic financial transactions to operation of the U.S. electrical grid to precision timing of computer networks.
  • $8.3 billion:  The amount of new and retained sales generated in FY2010 through business and technology assistance from the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership according to an FY2011 survey of participating U.S. companies. Through a network of local centers providing services in every state and Puerto Rico, the program helps companies nationwide to create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.
  • Up to $5 billion: The amount of money the federal government may be able to save by 2015 by using cloud computing services and consolidating or closing 962 data centers as a result. In FY 2011, NIST issued a technology roadmap (PDF) to help speed the U.S. government’s adoption of cloud computing services. More than 1500 individuals from the public participated during FY2010 and FY2011 in NIST workshops to propose ways the government can exploit the cost advantages of cloud computing reliably and securely.
  • 19.1 million, 32,864, and 18,195:  The number of data sets downloaded from the Web, Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) sold and calibrations provided by NIST to help companies and researchers worldwide produce the highest quality products and scientific measurements. To name just a few examples, NIST data, SRMs and calibration services help high tech companies make computer chips with “wires” only 10s of billionths of a meter wide; build  aircraft engines made of high strength, corrosion resistant alloys; and ensure the safety of drinking water, medical tests, and pharmaceuticals.
  • 2900:  The number of guest researchers, facility users, and other associates hosted by NIST in FY 2011 from industry, academia, and government agencies. State-of-the-art technical knowledge shared through collaborations like these supports billions of dollars in sales of U.S. products that depend in some way on advanced technologies, data, and measurements. In FY 2011, NIST also had numerous patents available for licensing, had 103 formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreements in place with companies and scientific organizations, and published about more than 1,200 research papers in the open scientific literature.

Protecting Personal Computers at Start-Up: NIST Offers Guidelines

A new draft computer security publication from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides guidance for vendors and security professionals as they work to protect personal computers as they start up.

The first software that runs when a computer is turned on is the "Basic Input/Output System" (BIOS). This fundamental system software initializes the hardware before the operating system starts. Since it works at such a low level, before other security protections are in place, unauthorized changes—malicious or accidental—to the BIOS can cause a significant security threat.

"Unauthorized changes in the BIOS could allow or be part of a sophisticated, targeted attack on an organization, allowing an attacker to infiltrate an organization's systems or disrupt their operations," said Andrew Regenscheid, one of the authors of BIOS Integrity Measurement Guidelines. In September, 2011, a security company discovered the first malware designed to infect the BIOS, called Mebromi. "We believe this is an emerging threat area," said Regenscheid. "These developments underscore the importance of detecting changes to the BIOS code and configurations, and why monitoring BIOS integrity is an important element of security." NIST release

Powerful NIST Detectors on Hawaiian Telescope to Probe Origins of Stars, Planets and Galaxies

A composite image of the Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as M51).

The world’s largest submillimeter camera—based on superconducting technology designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—is now ready to scan the universe, including faint and faraway parts never seen before.

Mounted on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the NIST technology will help accelerate studies of the origins of stars, planets and galaxies.

The new 4.5-ton SCUBA-2 camera, which contains more than 10,000 of NIST's superconducting sensors, is far more sensitive than its predecessor SCUBA (the highly productive Submillimeter Common-Use Bolometer Array), and will enable astronomers to map the sky hundreds of times faster and with a much larger field of view. SCUBA-2 will produce better images and sky maps, image new targets, and support deeper and broader surveys.

The product of an international research collaboration, SCUBA-2 will image objects ranging from comets in the Earth’s solar system to galaxies at the far ends of the universe. The camera is sensitive to objects associated with very cold gas and dust clouds, which absorb visible light (and therefore look black to optical telescopes) but emit the barest whiffs of submillimeter radiation—at wavelengths below 1 millimeter, between the microwave and infrared bands. Submillimeter light oscillates at terahertz frequencies, hundreds of times faster than cell phones.

“The submillimeter is the last frontier in astronomical imaging,” says NIST physicist Gene Hilton, who developed the fabrication method for the NIST instrument. “It’s been very difficult to develop cameras that work at this wavelength, so the submillimeter is largely unexplored. We’re excited to see what SCUBA-2 will reveal.”  Watch this video on how NIST is making a difference in viewing young stars, planets and galaxies.  Release