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Work With Us

The Engineering Laboratory promotes the development and dissemination of advanced manufacturing and construction technologies, guidelines, and services to the U.S. manufacturing and construction industries through activities including measurement science research, performance metrics, tools and methodologies for engineering applications, and critical technical contributions to standards and codes development. Carry out mission related activities in fire prevention and control; national earthquake hazards reduction; national windstorm impact reduction; national construction safety teams; building materials and structures; engineering and manufacturing materials, products, processes, equipment, technical data, and standards; manufacturing enterprise integration; collaborative manufacturing research pilot grants; and manufacturing fellowships.

Opportunities for Research Collaborations 

Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs)

Typically, CRADAs cover joint research efforts in which both EL and the cooperating company provide staff, equipment, facilities, and/or funds, in any number of possible combinations, for a project of mutual interest. When companies conduct joint research with EL under a CRADA, NIST can protect confidential or proprietary information exchanged during the project, keep research results confidential, and provide exclusive rights for intellectual property developed during the course of the project. Each CRADA is negotiated separately between EL/NIST and prospective partners. Most CRADAs take 6 to 8 weeks to implement. Copies of a model NIST CRADA agreement are available from the NIST Technology Partnerships Office.

Scientists and engineers from industrial, professional, trade, and other organizations participate cooperatively in EL research. The originating organization normally pays the researcher's salary. However, EL grants may be used for a portion of specific work.

Guest Researcher Agreements

Typically, Guest Researcher Agreements are used when an industrial, foreign, academic, or other researcher wishes to join an ongoing EL research effort. The researcher gains access to EL research staff and facilities and, in return, results from the collaboration are made publicly available. Such agreements cannot protect proprietary information and do not allow cooperating companies to receive exclusive intellectual property rights. Once a EL research group agrees to host a guest researcher.

Foreign Guest Researchers

The Foreign Guest Researcher Program offers scientists from around the world the opportunity to work collaboratively with scientists in the NIST laboratories participating in projects of common interest with EL. Assignments are generally one year in duration. International and Academic Affairs Office (IAAO) reviews and approves candidates for this program.

Visiting Scholars from Universities

Visiting scholars have opportunities to contribute to advancing the state of the art building and fire research through assignments ranging from a few months to periods of several years. Research is tailored for each participant; they have specific project tasks that directly benefit their university research and make substantive contributions to EL's objectives. Researchers with the education and experience to make these contributions may be paid by their parent organizations and/or by a EL grant.

Researchers from State and Local Governments

Researchers from state and local governments are also welcome to join EL staff in joint research projects. The technical content of the individual's work assignment is defined through direct discussion between representatives of the sponsoring organization and EL. Salary, fringe benefits, and travel expenses also are negotiated with EL. These researchers remain employees of their sponsoring organizations.

Research and Development Contracts

Research and Development Contracts are used when external organizations contract with EL researchers to receive specific technical services or results uniquely available at EL. The cooperating organization funds the EL effort on a cost-reimbursable basis. Individual contracts may provide protection of proprietary information under certain circumstances. Research results are made publicly available and any intellectual property rights revert to EL/NIST. Preparation of contracts for such agreements typically take about four weeks.

Informal Collaborations


Informal one-to-one collaborations between Institute and other researchers often involve exchange of research results and/or samples between EL and other researchers, rather than transfers of personnel or research funds.


Postdoctoral Research Associates


This program is equivalent to postdoctoral fellowships in universities and other organizations. Each applicant is responsible for formulating a specific plan of his or her choice on a problem which relates to EL current research. Awards are made for two years. EL works with the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in the coordination and selection of postdoctoral research associates. Additional information or a copy of the Research Opportunities Booklet or application material may be accessed through the International and Academic Affairs Office (IAAO).


Students (Graduate, Co-Op, and Summer)


NIST employs students and recent graduates of all ages and backgrounds through the Pathways Program.  The Pathways Program offers clear paths to Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and to provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their Federal service.


Student Employment


The Pathways Program consists of three components: the Internship Program, the Recent Graduate Program and the Presidential Management Fellow Program. For more information about each of these programs, please click on one of the links below.


NIST also offers non-paid, volunteer opportunities for students to gain work experience and exposure to scientific, engineering, and administrative fields. For more information about NIST's Student Volunteer Programs, please click on one of the links below.


Professional Research Experience Program (PREP)


PREP provides valuable laboratory experience and financial assistance to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students.


PREP Opportunities in EL


SURF: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships


The Engineering Laboratory offers a 11-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF). The SURF program is designed to provide hands-on research experience for those in the science, engineering, technology,and math disciplines.



  • Engineering Laboratory
    (301) 975-5900
    100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8600
    Gaithersburg, MD 20899
Created February 12, 2010, Updated June 22, 2021