6
Overall Conclusions

The Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory has excellent staff and exceptional facilities. Its work is essential in supporting the NIST mission of promoting U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. The MEL is having a significant impact on today’s manufacturing industries, ranging from traditional production industries to optics industries to semiconductor industries. The MEL is making significant enabling contributions to future U.S. manufacturing industries and jobs. A few examples include the following:

  • Redefinition of the kilogram, across-the-board potential impact, from megascale to nanoscale industries;

  • Piconewton measurement using biological molecules (DNA) as intrinsic force standards, bridging “bio” and “nano,” opening new frontiers in materials and micro-/nano-devices;

  • Measurement technology development for larger, next-generation silicon wafers;

  • Safety and security of industrial control systems (1.25 million downloads of the standard);

  • Portable ability to measure to 100 micrometers over 65 meters, NIST-traceable to the standard meter, enabling quality and precision in large products, structures, and so on; and

  • Work in model-based enterprises in manufacturing that has been shown to be equally applicable to security operations.

A significant number of projects at NIST are necessarily related to the integration and interoperability needed for effective commerce. Therefore, there is a requirement to maintain deep expertise in the applications of technologies and to maintain permeable interactions among disciplines. This deep expertise exists only at NIST, is not easily replicable, and is difficult to develop elsewhere; yet, it is crucial to the future of manufacturing.

Across the MEL, portfolio and portfolio management strategies have been continuously and significantly improved, resulting in a portfolio of projects that is customer-focused (taking into account present and future customers) and well distributed in terms of high and low risk and short- and long-term payoff. This needs to continue, with even better articulation of project focus, to achieve desired external impacts. Institute-level management needs to ensure that morale and knowledge-management issues receive due consideration (retirements, the use of “acting” managers, budget reductions, growth inequities, improvement of scientific methods, the role of external funding, etc.). Acting positions and added responsibilities without commensurate compensation may be adversely affecting the career paths of line managers, resulting in losses of key personnel and stagnation in promotions and opportunities for promotions.



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6 Overall Conclusions The Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory has excellent staff and exceptional facilities. Its work is essential in supporting the NIST mission of promoting U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. The MEL is having a significant impact on today’s manufacturing industries, ranging from traditional production industries to optics industries to semiconductor industries. The MEL is making significant enabling contributions to future U.S. manufacturing industries and jobs. A few examples include the following:  Redefinition of the kilogram, across-the-board potential impact, from megascale to nanoscale industries;  Piconewton measurement using biological molecules (DNA) as intrinsic force standards, bridging “bio” and “nano,” opening new frontiers in materials and micro-/nano-devices;  Measurement technology development for larger, next-generation silicon wafers;  Safety and security of industrial control systems (1.25 million downloads of the standard);  Portable ability to measure to 100 micrometers over 65 meters, NIST- traceable to the standard meter, enabling quality and precision in large products, structures, and so on; and  Work in model-based enterprises in manufacturing that has been shown to be equally applicable to security operations. A significant number of projects at NIST are necessarily related to the integration and interoperability needed for effective commerce. Therefore, there is a requirement to maintain deep expertise in the applications of technologies and to maintain permeable interactions among disciplines. This deep expertise exists only at NIST, is not easily replicable, and is difficult to develop elsewhere; yet, it is crucial to the future of manufacturing. Across the MEL, portfolio and portfolio management strategies have been continuously and significantly improved, resulting in a portfolio of projects that is customer-focused (taking into account present and future customers) and well distributed in terms of high and low risk and short- and long-term payoff. This needs to continue, with even better articulation of project focus, to achieve desired external impacts. Institute-level management needs to ensure that morale and knowledge-management issues receive due consideration (retirements, the use of “acting” managers, budget reductions, growth inequities, improvement of scientific methods, the role of external funding, etc.). Acting positions and added responsibilities without commensurate compensation may be adversely affecting the career paths of line managers, resulting in losses of key personnel and stagnation in promotions and opportunities for promotions. 30

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Postdoctoral researcher salaries are inadequate for engineering fields, making it difficult to attract the best candidates, many of whom are potential future permanent staff. The budget available for capital acquisitions seems to be inadequate for such a capital- intensive laboratory. The future competitiveness of U.S. industry in sustainable, high-value-added manufacturing with high precision and using manufacturing processes and products with ever-decreasing dimensional scale will be in doubt without measurement science, measurement services, and standards that are well beyond the current state of the art. This is also true for biotechnology in manufacturing, including biological product components and biologically derived process components, as well as for information technology in manufacturing, including knowledge bases and “smart” products and factories. The equipment in the MEL and the technical expertise of its staff will need to evolve quickly to meet future needs in these areas. Furthermore, the breadth of the challenges to be faced will require closer coupling into the MEL of other technology areas of NIST, such as information technology and materials, and closer coupling into the MEL of external laboratories’ technological expertise, such as biological processes and materials in manufacturing. 31

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