The mission of the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) is to satisfy the measurements and standards needs of U.S. manufacturers in mechanical and dimensional metrology and in advanced manufacturing technology by conducting research and development (R&D), providing services, and participating in standards activities. The overall goal of MEL, consistent with that of the other NIST laboratories, is to enhance productivity, to facilitate trade, and to improve the quality of life. The MEL conducts research to anticipate future metrology and standards needs, to enable new scientific and technological advances, and to improve and refine continuously the existing measurement methods and services.
The laboratory is organized in five divisions, as shown in Appendix A:
Precision Engineering Division (PED),
Manufacturing Metrology Division (MMD),
Intelligent Systems Division (ISD),
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division (MSID), and
Fabrication Technology Division (FTD).
The first four of these divisions are reviewed in this report. The MEL has eight focus programs that cut across divisions. These focus programs, along with the division that leads them, are listed in Table 6.1. Appendix A also presents the staffing trends for the laboratory (see Figure A.6).
All MEL divisions for the most part are doing excellent technical work. For the programs evaluated, the divisions demonstrated that their activities were focused on those programs determined most essential to the mission of MEL and NIST. In some cases, as would be expected, projects had reached the
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 6 Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory INTRODUCTION The mission of the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) is to satisfy the measurements and standards needs of U.S. manufacturers in mechanical and dimensional metrology and in advanced manufacturing technology by conducting research and development (R&D), providing services, and participating in standards activities. The overall goal of MEL, consistent with that of the other NIST laboratories, is to enhance productivity, to facilitate trade, and to improve the quality of life. The MEL conducts research to anticipate future metrology and standards needs, to enable new scientific and technological advances, and to improve and refine continuously the existing measurement methods and services. The laboratory is organized in five divisions, as shown in Appendix A: Precision Engineering Division (PED), Manufacturing Metrology Division (MMD), Intelligent Systems Division (ISD), Manufacturing Systems Integration Division (MSID), and Fabrication Technology Division (FTD). The first four of these divisions are reviewed in this report. The MEL has eight focus programs that cut across divisions. These focus programs, along with the division that leads them, are listed in Table 6.1. Appendix A also presents the staffing trends for the laboratory (see Figure A.6). MAJOR OBSERVATIONS All MEL divisions for the most part are doing excellent technical work. For the programs evaluated, the divisions demonstrated that their activities were focused on those programs determined most essential to the mission of MEL and NIST. In some cases, as would be expected, projects had reached the
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 TABLE 6.1 Focus Programs and Their Lead Divisions in the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory Focus Program Lead Division Dimensional Metrology Precision Engineering Division Mechanical Metrology Manufacturing Metrology Division Nanomanufacturing Precision Engineering Division Intelligent Control of Mobility Systems Intelligent Systems Division Manufacturing Interoperability Manufacturing Systems Integration Division Smart Machining Systems Manufacturing Metrology Division Homeland and Industrial Control Security Intelligent Systems Division Manufacturing Metrology and Standards for the Health Care Industry Manufacturing Systems Integration Division stage of needing reevaluation and redirection on the basis of work being done elsewhere and shifts in priorities. Adjustments in assignments will continue to be a key activity of MEL management, to ensure that projects are properly concluded and new ones are started in a logical manner. During the current assessment period, MEL reduced the number of its focus programs from 17 to 8. A matrix project-implementation approach within these programs has allowed much greater involvement of the appropriate technical resources to address project needs. In the past this was not as easily accomplished, since projects were divisional and often overlapping and redundant as they tried to achieve similar overall results. Crosscutting initiatives are allowing MEL to perform highly technical tasks with a much greater degree of efficiency. Many of the prior suggestions of the Board were embraced and improved upon for managing these programs. Management tools now in place include roadmaps, milestone targets tracking progress from start to finish of a project, industry feedback measures, and project prioritization and reprioritization. Many projects were rated as outstanding by the Board. One example is Standards for the Exchange of Product Model Data (STEP). The Manufacturing Systems Integration Division has championed and implemented STEP geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (AP203 E2). Computer-aided design (CAD) vendors are testing this new standard in preparation for integrating it into their existing products. The achievement of electronic interoperability of CAD drawings has significantly benefited users. The Intelligent Systems Division has achieved recognition as a strong, international leader in intelligent control of mobility systems. The Manufacturing Metrology Division continues very impressive, internationally recognized work with its Microforce Measurement project team. There is strong evidence that this project will successfully establish worldwide the reference standard for small-force measurement. The Precision Engineering Division has received high marks from the semiconductor industry for its leadership in both critical dimension and overlay metrology. The ongoing accomplishments of the X-ray Optics Calibration Interferometer (XCALIBIR) project, which is focused on an area of significant metrology need in semiconductor manufacturing, are impressive. The project participants are highly capable, and the technical results are outstanding. The project is well connected to industrial customers who drive the development and are eagerly implementing the results. The efforts for the deployment of technology and standards to industry are making progress. Additional attention to this goal of deployment will improve the value recognition of MEL. It will also help strengthen the success of U.S. industry, assuring that the appropriate priorities and initiatives are aligned with future needs. Projects involved in these efforts need a life-cycle plan that addresses how the project
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 is concluded and includes a deployment plan to deliver the project results effectively to the targeted customers. The effort undertaken by MEL to identify industry and national needs in the areas of manufacturing metrology and standards for the health care enterprise, coupled with consideration of MEL capability and expertise, is exemplary. Also, the new matrix structure employed by MEL has allowed for the rapid formation of fresh projects that address critical national needs in homeland security, with the appropriate critical resources and expertise engaged. The Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML) became fully functional in 2004. This state-of-the-art facility is well equipped and supported by MEL. Further refinement of equipment and processes will make this laboratory an internationally renowned operation, a center of excellence for measurement standards that will allow the United States to improve its international presence and influence on future measurement standards and practices. Continuation of efforts on evaluating best practices and state-of-the-art technology are needed so that MEL stays apace with industry and can use industry experience to determine what and how new projects are to be developed. Data are being gathered from workshops, forums, published works, and standards committees. This information needs to be compiled, and gap analyses need to be developed to help determine needs and priorities. TECHNICAL QUALITY AND MERIT The overall quality of research in the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory is high. In general, all divisions are doing excellent technical work. In many areas, the work at MEL is state of the art. The MEL appropriately emphasizes collaborative work and embraces a matrix management structure for projects to ensure that work is accomplished efficiently and rapidly, engaging the appropriate resources and minimizing redundancy. In general, the staff remains competent and motivated to fulfill roles of technical leadership. Within the Precision Engineering Division, a move of its well-developed equipment into the new AML environment has been completed not with just equivalent performance but with enhanced performance, showing clearly that the development of AML was justified. The M48 coordinate measuring equipment move to AML was a great success, fully accomplished and now working better than before. The M48 was good to 50 nm full-volume error before and is now operating in the 20 to 30 nm range in its new laboratory in AML. One piece of equipment, the Nikon 5i, a two-dimensional pattern placement metrology tool, was not relocated, and if the opportunity presents itself it should be moved to AML as well. Along with the move to AML, there was an effort in 2004 to bring the output capability, volume, and quality of all equipment back to pre-move levels. The PED has gone beyond this in many areas, improving its low levels of uncertainty in traceable calibrations. The technical work of PED in length metrology is now matrix-managed under two new MEL programs: Dimensional Metrology and Nanomanufacturing. These two programs have established themselves as providing standards and measurement advancements that industry finds necessary for traceability and that are useful to enhance their own process control developments. The PED has raised its level of excellence in cooperating with other National Metrology Institutes (NMIs). It is now taking a proactive role in driving procedural dimensional standards and reducing uncertainty levels in dimensional traceability relative to the other highly acclaimed NMIs. Through collaboration with worldwide NMIs, industry-recognized consortia, university research, and national and international procedural standards bodies, PED has developed an accurate understand-
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 ing of comparable and relevant work worldwide. It is less reactive and more preemptive now in taking a leadership position in its work, as U.S. industry needs it to do. The PED has gone through the NIST version of an International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-17025-equivalent accreditation process, implementing the NIST Quality System for its SP250 calibrations, including an integral self-audit process. The PED was certified by NIST as compliant in October 2004, and this certification was reviewed and accepted by international NMIs (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, National Physical Laboratory, and the Western Hemisphere NMI organization Sistema Interamericano Metrología). During FY 2004, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers was awarded to a staff member for his contributions, including realization and dissemination of the unit of force at the micro- and nanoscale. The Nanomanufacturing program in which MMD participates has been exemplary: the impact is significant, the technology challenges have been clearly identified, a detailed technical plan has been developed, and the program’s team has continued to deliver accomplishments in accordance with the plan. This team has developed excellent laboratory capabilities for this program. This team is internationally recognized and has established contacts and partnerships with other national measurement laboratories in this area. There is strong evidence that the Nanomanufacturing program will successfully establish the reference standard for small-force measurement. The MMD retains outstanding capabilities and has state-of-the-art facilities for a number of metrology services. The XCALIBIR and Microforce Measurement projects are excellent examples that include newly developed, state-of-the-art capabilities derived from ongoing technical projects. The MMD’s involvement in planning for a key comparison for the optical flat is evidence that the capabilities and the new AML facilities for this program are outstanding. The geometry measuring machine offers unique measurement capability in this field. Natural synergies exist between the previous Smart Machine Tools and Predictive Process Engineering programs. However, the Board has a concern that the scope and challenges of the Smart Machining Systems (SMS) program that has succeeded them may be too broad and might not realistically be achieved by MMD. The SMS program needs to be driven by industry and national needs and the current state of industrial practice. The Intelligent Systems Division has facilitated the validation of metrology software tools for interoperability, working with suppliers and users of these tools on a worldwide basis. The division is receiving international recognition in this area. The ISD has taken a leadership role in homeland and industrial control security, and its involvement has gained wide recognition by other organizations and communities throughout the United States. Of significance are the development and maintenance of a set of test arenas for prove-out of robotic search-and-rescue technologies. Their arenas are transported to and replicated at many locations for demonstrations and competitions of rescue robot systems. The arenas incorporate repeatable features and challenges representing conditions found at disaster sites. The ISD continues to support the Department of Defense’s Unmanned Ground Vehicles program effectively. Enhancements to the division’s previously successful demonstrations of real-time control system (RCS) controlled robotic vehicles are being implemented. The ISD team remain major contributors in the area of unmanned ground vehicle technology. Demonstrations and evaluation of these technologies by the Army Research Laboratory have identified NIST technology as making a leading contribution to the advancement of these key technologies. Within the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division, the groups researching and influencing interoperability standards are among the best internationally. This has been demonstrated, for example, with STEP interoperability testing, the development and testing of STEP modules (in particular AP203 E2), and the assisting of vendors in implementation of the new functionality. Such activities have also
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 been recognized through awards to staff members—for example, the PDES, Inc., award for excellence in technical management and the Boeing award for outstanding contributions to simulation modeling, a significant future tool to help assure proper design and manufacturing of advanced aircraft. The MSID has championed the Object Management Group, the World Wide Web Consortium, and other best-practice enhancement standards to meet new interoperability requirements. A large number of informal industry consortiums articulate best-practice and industry guidelines; it is necessary for MSID to lead in the identification and enhancement of these best-practice guidelines and to ensure that they are adopted as formal standards. In keeping with its mission, MSID is not and should not be expected to be an inventor of new technology but rather a synthesizer of known and emergent techniques to form new formally traceable standards. The distinctiveness of its proposition of formality and rigor of techniques is the key to success and a focus to be applauded. The division fulfills this role strongly and well. The MSID also does a good job of using state-of-the-art results from other groups in the national and international community to leverage its own resources. Related to work in exchange standards, MSID aggressively seeks out the most effective partnerships to identify and address the requirements. Often the work is interdisciplinary and of distinctive value, as it is difficult to accomplish elsewhere. Some recent examples of collaboration include its work with the Automotive Industry Action Group in the area of Inventory Visibility and Interoperability, with the Department of Homeland Security in the area of simulation, and in the area of health care projects with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Such programs will have long-term impact. RELEVANCE The Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory serves a vital role in ensuring that U.S. manufacturing and services will have the expertise to properly implement effective measurements and standards both within the United States and around the world. The work of MEL is relevant to the needs of customers (industry, government, and other NIST laboratories) and to the effective deployment of measurements and standards throughout the U.S. manufacturing community. The Precision Engineering Division is demonstrating responsiveness to industry, both by leading in dimensional control capability development and by leading worldwide procedural standards developments. An example of its responsiveness is the recent emphasis on developing the scatterfield metrology work, which aligns well with the resurgent interest in nanoscale optical metrology and its contribution to the fundamental understanding of optical metrological capability essential to nanomanufacturing. The PED is tracking the unique and specialized needs of the precision engineering industry that only a division with its own capabilities could satisfy, focusing on those needs and allowing more basic and commodity-type needs to be accomplished by ancillary and/or commercial laboratories and services. The division selects work with which it can produce the highest impact within its mission and charter. This approach adjusts PED contributions to best meet industrial customer needs (often in innovative ways) and keeps the division’s equipment current in an environment of limited funding. The PED’s level of effort has led to exemplary accomplishments. These include the completion of a move to AML and restoration of pre-move capacity levels, the adoption and leveraging of the new organizational structure, the accomplishment of ISO 17025 certification, and the implementation of an export-control system for the instruments in its laboratories deemed subject to such controls, while making good progress on division work and projects. Among its activities, the Manufacturing Metrology Division develops manufacturing and mechani-
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 cal metrology technology. The customers of this effort include both industrial and governmental communities. The division fulfills this role through its own internal projects and by acting as a catalyst or facilitator for collaborative efforts between government, industry, and academia. The Advanced Optics Metrology Program’s XCALIBIR component of the MEL Dimensional Metrology Program is focused on an area of significant metrology need in semiconductor manufacturing. The laboratory capability and technical results are outstanding. Continued work on microforce measurement is extremely important. Its direct connection to industry activities today is limited, but it will likely achieve significant importance in the field of nanomanufacturing in the long term. The MMD role in this field of nanomanufacturing is and should be metrology services, international standards, and international measurement comparisons. The MMD’s efforts will lead to the establishment of the international reference standard for small-force measurement. A significant external challenge for the Smart Machining Systems program is the relatively low level of U.S. manufacturing presence in the high-performance machining and machining-systems equipment market. This limits the ability to form partnerships with recognized market leaders. The absence of technically and economically strong U.S.-based companies in this field provides justification for this type of work in MMD, because many U.S.-based manufacturing companies still rely on metalworking equipment and are therefore reliant on machine tool characterization methods and standards. The Intelligent Systems Division has greatly improved its focus and industry relevance. Its manufacturing work is properly centered on standards for industry, with important research aimed at helping establish or improve future standards and technology. The ISD continues to be highly responsive to the needs of industry and other sponsors, and in all projects reviewed the division is working closely with a committed set of partners. Higher-quality and smaller-characteristic dimensions are putting greater pressure on timely metrology, and globally dispersed operations make interoperability an even more critical requirement than in the past. By facilitating the use of various combinations of vendors’ hardware and software, especially using consensus standards, the ISD is helping to foster both creativity in vendor products and, ultimately, productivity in manufacturing operations. As a result of increased funding from other federal agencies and flat or decreasing internal funding, the fraction of ISD’s work that has manufacturing as the primary focus has decreased over the past several years. There is a need for ISD and MEL in general to increase the focus of their work on core manufacturing industry problems. There remains a large potential for intelligent systems in manufacturing. It is hoped that MEL can continue to push for adding a NIST major thrust area in manufacturing. The largest single program within ISD is Intelligent Control of Mobility Systems (ICMS), which will account for about 40 percent of the operational budget in FY 2005. While there has been a small effort within the ICMS program on mobility systems in industrial applications, most of that effort has been funded by other government agencies and is directed toward military vehicles and civilian transportation. The ICMS program has clearly established itself as a technology and standards leader in this area, and it has found a far more eager customer in the U.S. Army than in industry. The Manufacturing Systems Integration Division makes every effort to engage large, medium, and small customers in the standardization projects. The MSID also aggressively seeks out the most effective partnerships to identify and address the requirements. MSID’s focus on interoperability is very good, and it will help improve U.S. manufacturing effectiveness and competitiveness. More direct funding from companies that directly benefit from the work could be pursued. As mentioned above, some recent examples of MSID collaborative efforts include the division’s work with the Automotive Industry Action Group in the area of Inventory Visibility and Interoperability, with the Department of Homeland Security in the area of simulation, and in the area of health care projects with NIH and FDA.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 Vendors and standards bodies are then also engaged around problems formulated by the end customers. The eventual focus is on producing formally grounded standards for interoperability. The MSID has also exhibited agility in the refocusing and redirection of expertise into NIST core program focus areas such as homeland security and health care. The MSID management team is to be commended for evaluating opportunities and focusing effort on the areas of most likely success and impact while meeting mission objectives. The team’s process includes identifying compelling industry needs and conducting the research that could lead to potentially effective standards. Resources are then managed to address the needs of a project. This research also serves to validate the longer-term strategic plan that could lead to self-integrating systems. The STEP geometric dimensioning and tolerancing standard (AP203 E2) is being tested by CAD vendors in preparation for integrating it into existing products. It allows effective transfer of three-dimensional models into any CAD system that embraces this standard and is helping industry to communicate models without the need to make major labor-intensive conversions. EFFECTIVENESS The Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory is effective in delivering products and services to customers throughout the U.S. manufacturing community. For example, MMD hosts the nation’s reference laboratory for the units of mass, force, vibration, and sound pressure, serving the nation by providing calibration services, developing advanced methods for metrology, developing national and international standards, and leading efforts with international standards organizations. MEL expertise and services meet critical needs of the nation’s manufacturing industry and critical needs of distributed international manufacturing and commerce. Each of the four PED groups (Large-Scale Coordinate Metrology, Engineering Metrology, Surface and Microform Metrology, and Nanoscale Metrology) is providing dissemination of its developments and results to industry in the form of industry procedural standards, NIST technical publications, Standard Reference Material (SRM) documentation, and presentations at conferences and workshops. Each has continued, and in some cases elevated, its level of participation in international and national standards bodies. Three PED groups (Large-Scale Coordinate Metrology, Engineering Metrology, and Surface and Microform Metrology) are particularly active in and have taken leadership roles in establishing the technical direction of ISO and American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ANSI/ASME) standards; the other (Nanoscale Metrology) has been active in semiconductor industry standards groups such as Semiconductor and Materials International. The American National Standards Institute published ANSI/ASME B22.214.171.124 and B89.7.8, two key industry standards in the area of uncertainty in dimensional measurements for which PED led the development and provided the major substance. The role of PED in this activity and its further collaboration with other ISO-member national bodies to push these improvements into ISO 14253 geometric product specification in the supplier/original equipment manufacturer business is exactly the type of world impact and leadership that U.S. industry needs NIST to practice in this area. The PED is establishing solid rapport and collaboration with the technical representatives of other ISO member countries. It is submitting alternative, more widely acceptable technical approaches that are tactfully changing the direction of ISO standardization to a direction more helpful for the long-term global and local interests of U.S. industry. The MMD’s work is disseminated through multiple means. Workshops, consortia, and standards committees continue to provide the means for disseminating many research results. Workshops are also used to identify customer needs. Many members of the technical staff are speakers at conferences and
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 seminars. The MMD is also active in publications, presentations, and committees within numerous professional societies. These presentations, the issuance of standards, and the division’s technical publications all provide evidence that MMD is serving its customers. The quantitative impact of its calibration services is demonstrated by paying customers. For example, the Mass and Force Group serves individual paying customers directly and is working with an industrial partner on implementing new, higher-resolution mass calibrations. The Machine Tool Metrology Group and the Sensor Development and Application Group also serve individual customers by providing measurement services. The ISD publication record is excellent, and the division has shown strong leadership in a number of outside coalitions related to the areas of interoperability, smart machines, intelligent mobility systems, and industrial security. There is evidence of both near-term impact (e.g., bringing together industry sectors and assisting with new standards) and long-term impact (developing methods for better use of intelligent systems in industry and elsewhere). In the Manufacturing Interoperability Program led by the MSID Division Chief, ISD is charged with leading the Shop Process System project, concentrating on integrating shop floor equipment. The goal of this project is to allow seamless communication within a dimensional inspection system regardless of the vendors of the individual components. The elements include the CAD data on which the inspection is based, the inspection planning software, the actual inspection machine (coordinate measuring machine) control, and the reduction and presentation of data on various platforms and with various software packages. In this project, ISD has provided several important functions in close cooperation with equipment and software suppliers. The division has helped to create interface standards for the various elements in inspection systems and has acted as a facilitator and honest broker among the various vendors. As a result, the standards that are emerging are consensus-based. The ISD provides a physical testbed to refine and maintain these standards, using equipment loaned by many of the key industry players. This project is highly effective owing to both the technical competence of the people involved and the excellent relationships they have established with industry. It has strong support from users and suppliers globally. It has had significant impact already in providing leadership and testing support. The MSID has built up a very strong presence in disseminating standards nationally and internationally (as with STEP, AP203 [ISO 10303-203]). The division disseminates its work through government and industry, NIST-wide, and at internal forums. Work has also been disseminated through a significantly high number of workshops, technical seminars, reports, publications, newsletters, board memberships, and consortia. Some examples are the Systems Integration for Manufacturing Applications program and the involvement with STEP development. The MSID has had a very strong impact in STEP development. It has continued the development and testing of STEP modular development environment and modular application protocols (Automated Protocol Engines); in particular, work relating to AP203 E2 is to be commended. This new (E2) version of AP203 was modularized and updated to include several new application module sets, including Product Data Management; validation properties; three-dimensional associated text, colors, and layers; and Geometric and Dimensional Tolerancing. In particular, MSID has championed and implemented STEP geometric dimensioning and tolerancing for AP203 E2. The division has also supported the acceleration of the efforts to integrate STEP with mainstream modeling technologies including XML Schema and Unified Modeling Language. More recent MSID efforts have been initiated in the areas of systems modeling language (SYSML) and the semantic interoperability of the STEP EXPRESS language with other information modeling technologies. The MSID has also influenced enhancements by the Object Management Group, World Wide Web Consortium, and others to meet new interoperability requirements. Finally, MSID has been highly supportive of the STEP manufacturing Application Pro-
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 tocol developments, and in particular the development and testing of the STEP/NC AP239, and the Dimensional Inspection AP219. RESOURCES As of January 2005, staffing for the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory included 200 full-time permanent positions, of which 134 were for technical professionals. There were also 25 nonpermanent or supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and temporary or part-time workers. The departure of senior staff continues, and the decline in full-time permanent staff in recent years represents a significant area of concern, requiring careful management of priorities. Although the level of full-time permanent MEL staff has stabilized recently and funding has increased modestly relative to that of prior years, constraints on planning remain. As MEL management seeks to address the technical goals, objectives, and priorities of the laboratory, there are significant challenges to supporting the staff at its current level. A strategic reevaluation of MEL’s technical program portfolio over the past year has reduced the number of programs from 17 to 8 and has demonstrated MEL’s ability to respond rapidly to new demands and adjust direction quickly as is required by its customers and its organization support groups. Continued application of the matrix management organizational model has proved to be a successful MEL strategy for managing increasingly collaborative activities. Existing equipment within MEL is generally acceptable for measurement purposes. The fabrication facility is somewhat dated. Partnerships with manufacturing using the latest technology equipment would help to ensure that the divisions are staying current with the latest manufacturing practices. The PED is selecting the work by which it can have the greatest impact while using innovation to adjust the contributions it makes in an environment of funding constraints that hamper the ability to keep equipment current. The PED leverages its staff optimally to accomplish the work that it does. There is little redundancy or depth of staff beyond the principals. Much work is accomplished by staffing second tiers through agency or temporary employees. Equipment that is less than state of the art or that is obsolete is frequently upgraded, rather than being replaced, in order to reach beyond state-of-the-art capabilities. This type of accomplishment continues to be impressive. The MMD’s difficulty in retaining talented technical professionals and in recruiting equally talented new employees is of concern. The division’s success relies almost exclusively on the technical competencies of its staff, and several technically strong key personnel have left in the past few years. MMD management recognizes this challenge and is taking steps to address the issue. In particular, the strong emphasis on postdoctoral research associates is part of an effort to identify candidates for employment while also sparking their interest in a career at NIST. The MMD should remain focused on a scope of programs and projects that closely matches its available resources. The ISD lacks adequate resources. A successful coalition with industry has brought new demands, and the division may reach the point of being unable to meet the expectations of those of its partners devoting time and money to its work. The MSID may have less-than-sufficient staff for its defined projects. Thus, the effort in the more strategic technical projects is understandably spread out. The MSID staff have long-standing competence in formal methods in developing ontologies and tools for analysis and representations, as well as in finding deficiencies in representational methods. Core expertise has been clearly identified and maintained in the crucial area of interoperability. The MSID has also become proactive and successful in promoting staff through mechanisms such as awards. The Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory’s technical planning is very good, with the caveat that
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004 – 2005 it experiences occasional diversions from the main line caused by sudden demand from its customers and lack of funds. The MEL has an excellent team of senior project managers who navigate through project-formulation options to pick the plan that will further the mission. The laboratory has implemented a review process that includes a graphical time line representation (showing planned milestones, project subgoals, and interdependencies of project activities) for major programs and activities (e.g., the move to the Advanced Measurement Laboratory). The Board continues to encourage MEL to define a plan to predict the mix of skills that it will need in order to achieve major objectives and to chart how to maintain or obtain these skills. Anticipating events such as retirements, separations, and available new hires to the extent feasible and developing a strategy to ensure that the necessary skill mix is available for the future will increase the effectiveness of MEL’s use of resources and of its programs overall. The matrix management approach that MEL has taken for meeting its programmatic objectives is working; staff seems to have adapted well to matrix management. Laboratory management has taken steps to ensure that MEL staff is assessed by supervisors who are familiar with their project requirements and accomplishments. An example of the successful result of the new matrix management structure is the consolidation of previous large-scale engineering and surface metrology programs into a single Dimensional Metrology Program, and then using this organizational change to take advantage of economics of the scale of resources, the combination of laboratories, other space, and budgets. There seems to be an improved sense of synergy between the groups owing to this new organizational approach by MEL. There could be a downside if important, fundamental focus areas in which effort has been exerted for some time lose the attention necessary to be effective. But if the focus on fundamentals is maintained, the new organization is viewed to be an effective improvement.