Down to the NthPaula Moore
Gaithersburg, Md.-based NIST, founded in 1901, standardizes all types of measurements — from length and weight to time. NIST's Boulder facility, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is 50 years old, and the institute also jointly runs JILA (formerly the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) with the University of Colorado Boulder. NIST employs roughly 700 people in Boulder and a total of about 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians and other personnel nationwide, according to the institute.
"We serve as the ultimate source of what we call traceability for measurements. … To make something, you have to be able to measure it," said Michael Kelley, acting director of NIST's Boulder Laboratories. "That underlies all trade."
Especially with foreign trade, NIST helps give U.S. companies confidence that measurements in other countries can be relied on, and vice versa.
"Measurement confidence is one way we facilitate fair trade," Kelley said.
Some of NIST's hottest projects involve measuring the performance of cybersecurity systems, which keep technology such as computers, the Internet and cell phones secure, and the energy efficiency of buildings nationwide, according to Kelley.
"If you can't measure something, you can't control it or modify it," he said.
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