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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.

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.

  • Internship Program
    The Internship Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of education institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies to explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.
    For more info please visit
  • Recent Graduate Program 
    The Recent Graduates Program affords developmental experiences in the Federal Government intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years after degree completion to apply). Successful applicants are placed in a dynamic, developmental program with the potential to lead to a civil service career in the Federal Government. The program lasts for 1 year.
  • Presidential Management Fellows Program
    The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program  is a flagship leadership development program at the entry-level for advanced degree candidates. Created more than three decades ago, the Program attracts and selects from among the best candidates and is designed to develop a cadre of potential Federal Government Leaders. 
  • Pathways Program - Frequently Asked Questions 

Other NIST programs include:

  • NIST NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateships Program
    NIST's Postdoctoral Research Program supports a nationwide competitive postdoctoral program administered in cooperation with the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. The program brings research scientists and engineers of rare promise and ability to perform advanced research related to the NIST mission. The program shares NIST unique research facilities with the U.S. scientific and engineering communities and provides a valuable mechanism for the transfer of research results from NIST to the scientific and engineering communities.
  • Professional Research Experience Program (PREP)
    PREP provides valuable laboratory experience and financial assistance to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students.
  • Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP)
    SHIP is a summer volunteer program for high school juniors and seniors. SHIP provides cutting-edge research experience for students interested in science.
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
    A multi-week program, SURF offers opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in world-class research at NIST's unique research facilities.
  • Graduate Student Measurement Science and Engineering Fellowship Program (GMSE)
    GMSE offer unique research experiences, mentorship, and financial assistance to doctoral-level graduate students. Collaborative research relationships are developed between NIST, the doctoral-level graduate students and the students' academic institutions in research areas that are pertinent to the measurement science and engineering research priorities at NIST.


  • Engineering Laboratory
    (301) 975-5900
    100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8600
    Gaithersburg, MD 20899
Created February 12, 2010, Updated January 4, 2024