From automated teller machines and atomic clocks to mammograms and semiconductors, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
NIST carries out its mission in four cooperative programs:
- the NIST Laboratories, conducting research that advances the nation's technology infrastructure and is needed by U.S. industry to continually improve products and services;
- the Baldrige National Quality Program, which promotes performance excellence among U.S. manufacturers, service companies, educational institutions, and health care providers; conducts outreach programs and manages the annual Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award which recognizes performance excellence and quality achievement;
- the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nationwide network of local centers offering technical and business assistance to smaller manufacturers; and
- the Advanced Technology Program, which accelerates the development of innovative technologies for broad national benefit by co-funding R&D partnerships with the private sector. (This program is phasing out; no new awards are being made.)
NIST has an operating budget of about $930 million and operates in two locations: Gaithersburg, Md., (headquarters—234-hectare/578-acre campus) and Boulder, Colo., (84-hectare/208-acre campus). NIST employs about 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support and administrative personnel. About 1,800 NIST associates complement the staff. In addition, NIST partners with 1,400 manufacturing specialists and staff at nearly 350 affiliated centers around the country.