The U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Clay Sell,
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Tom
D'Agostino, Senator Pete Domenici, and Sandia President Tom Hunter
today celebrated completion of the Microsystems and Engineering
Sciences Applications (MESA) Complex at Sandia
National Laboratories, completing NNSA’s
eight-year, $516 million project.
This project is the largest in the history of the lab and was
completed three years ahead of schedule and $40 million below budget.
Beyond its security role, the complex’s combination
of high-performance computing simulations, scientific research, and
production capabilities in electronics and optics at the micro- and
nano-level will make it a world leader in a new type of simulation-led
engineering that will ultimately improve the quality of consumer goods.
In security work, the MESA complex will produce electronic
circuits and computer chips designed to withstand high levels of
radiation. These “hardened” electronics are
critical to national security needs.
The 400,000-square foot MESA complex consists of a
Microfabrication Facility, a Microsystems Laboratory, and a new Weapons
Integration Facility, which will contain laser, electrical,
visualization, and computer laboratories as well as office workspace
for more than 600 scientists and engineers. To an unprecedented degree,
it will combine electronic and optoelctronics fabrication facilities
with Sandia’s supercomputing simulations.
“In opening the MESA complex at Sandia National
Laboratories, we are increasing our nonproliferation capabilities and
applying next-generation microelectronics technology to advancing our
national security,” Sell said. “From maintaining
our nuclear stockpile to realizing scientific breakthroughs, the
employees of Sandia National Laboratories are applying the best science
and engineering to some of our nation’s most vital and
sensitive national security, environmental and energy
“The MESA complex provides NNSA with a capability
you can’t find anywhere else,” said D'Agostino.
“With the technology developed here, anything from our
country’s nuclear weapons to communications satellites will
be able to withstand the worst of conditions.”
“The MESA project is a cornerstone in the foundation
of the nation’s science and engineering future,”
said Tom Hunter, Sandia President and Labs Director. “It
uniquely provides a design environment and combines the power of the
world’s most powerful computers with the development of
small, smart things (microsystems) that are integrated into
applications of unlimited potential. There is no other place like it.
We are proud the nation chose Sandia as the place for this investment.
We are equally proud to complete the project on time and on budget.
This is a defining achievement for Sandia.”
A seven-foot tall brass statue of Willis Whitfield, who solved
a major problem in making modern microelectronics production possible,
was unveiled during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Whitfield is a retired
Sandia employee who discovered how to remove particles of dust from
silicon fabrication facilities, a problem that caused an almost 50
percent failure rate in some industries. The statue was designed and
sculpted by former Sandia employee Neal McKuen and is a tribute to all