WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded a total of $50 million in grants to five institutions to support the construction of new scientific research facilities that will explore everything from nanometer-scale electronics and “green” buildings to microbe ecosystems in the oceans. The five projects receiving funding under the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP) will contribute to almost $133 million in new laboratory construction projects, according to grantees.

“Strengthening research and development in the United States is critical to our ability to create jobs and remain competitive,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “These construction grants will help the U.S. produce world-leading research in science and technology that will advance our economic growth and international competitiveness.”

The five grants announced today under the Construction Grant Program include:

•$13.1 million for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability Research Building at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York — A new environmentally friendly building at the Institute will support green-building research and other sustainable technologies.
•$12.2 million for the expansion of facilities at the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research at the University of Nevada, Reno — The laboratory expansion will result in the largest and most versatile earthquake simulation facility in the United States.
•$9.5 million for the Center of Excellence in Nano Mechanical Science & Engineering (NAMSE) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor — The new research facility will explore a broad range of topics at the intersection of mechanical engineering and nanometer-scale science and technology.
•$9.1 million for a new Center for Ocean Health at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine — The new research center on the coast will facilitate the study of microbial life in marine ecosystems and the health of the oceans.
•$6 million for the Western Institute of Nanotechnology on Green Engineering and Metrology (WIN GEM) at the University of California, Los Angeles — The new facility will consolidate core research facilities for three research centers developing advanced energy technologies for microelectronics and nanotechnology.

These NIST grants fund new or expanded facilities for scientific research in areas of study covered by NIST and Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including measurement science, nanotechnology, building technology and oceanography. Sponsoring organizations must be institutions of higher education or nonprofit science research organizations.

The competition for these awards was announced in February (http://www.nist.gov/director/ncgp/ncgp_022510.cfm), and NIST received more than 100 proposals. Applications were evaluated based on three criteria: scientific and technical merit of the proposed use of the facility and the need for federal funding; quality of the design of the facility; and adequacy of the project management plan for construction of the facility. Applicant organizations must fund at least 20 percent of the annual project costs.

For more information about the NIST Construction Grant Program, please visit www.nist.gov/director/ncgp/. For additional information, please contact Michael Baum, baum@nist.gov, (301) 975-2763.