The Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory (EEEL) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been assessed by a panel of experts appointed by the National Research Council (NRC). The panel visited the four divisions of EEEL and reviewed their scientific and technical activities. The assessment was based on four criteria: (1) the degree to which the laboratory addressed national priorities; (2) the degree to which the programs were well motivated with respect to goals, innovation, definition of success, impact, dissemination to the end user, and cost and timeliness; (3) the technical merit of the programs; and (4) the adequacy of the facilities, the equipment, and human resources. Using these four criteria, the panel drew the following conclusions:
Conclusion 1. The laboratory is well focused on national priorities. Numerous examples were presented that showed the nurturing of America’s science and technology enterprise, as well as the stewardship of critical research fields and their enabling infrastructure. There was evidence of research and education having been integrated through research associateships, and there were a good number of collaborations with universities. A selection of long-term, high-payoff activities was observed with applications to homeland and national security, environmental quality, economic prosperity, human health and well-being, and fundamental discovery.
Conclusion 2. The goals, action plans, impacts, and means of dissemination are all well articulated in divisional documentation that is publicly available. The scope and detail of the documentation on the planning of this laboratory were satisfactory, the long-term objectives were well considered, and the short-term objectives were focused and, in general, achievable. The innovation that is being developed and applied at EEEL is impressive and holds great promise. In general, EEEL is providing excellent value at a very reasonable cost. No projects examined failed to provide value for the investment.
Conclusion 3. The technical merit of the program is impressive. Some programs have received best-in-the-world accolades for achieving particular technical goals. Others are considered state of the art. This combination of innovation and technical achievement promises to serve well the emerging technologies of the future. Moreover, the laboratory manages to maintain a balanced portfolio of activities that support the U.S. technological infrastructure and its metrological needs.
Conclusion 4. In general, the resources are adequate. The staff are skilled, motivated, and creative. However, permanent staff are spread very thin over projects, and this may impact future performance. While the laboratory’s resources are achieving good results at present, the panel has concerns about sustainability and adaptability to future demands.
This report also contains a chapter in which the panel comments on staffing and funding, international issues, and the planning process and suggests new directions for research within the existing laboratory organizational structure.