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SURF Program

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

SURFing the Engineering Laboratory

The SURF Program will be available for Summer 2024. Prospective applicants must apply no later than 11:59 PM (ET) on January 31, 2024 to be considered for the program. The vacancy announcements and questionnaires are LIVE and available at the links below:

-SURF Gaithersburg Vacancy Announcement is here.

(Applications will be accepted pending availability of funds)

The Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology offers a 11-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF).

The SURF program is designed to provide hands-on research experience in building and fire research technologies. This program builds on the phenomenal success of the three other SURF programs at NIST.  NIST is located just outside Washington, DC. [directions...]

Research Opportunities in EL

NIST's Engineering Laboratory (EL) supplies critical enabling solutions to U.S. manufacturers, the con­struction industry, and the broad array of businesses and other organizations that build, own, operate, or maintain the nation's vast physical infrastructure.   EL's research is closely aligned with critical national needs including energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure. Our researchers are working in areas such as fire prevention and control, earthquake hazards reduction, sustainable manufacturing and construction, manufacturing enterprise integration, and construction safety. Our researchers are recognized experts in intelligent sensing and control robotics and automation systems; systems engineering and integration; smart manufacturing processes (including additive manufacturing) and enterprise integration; energy efficient and intelligent operation of buildings with healthy indoor environments; sustainability, durability and service-life prediction of building and infrastructure materials; fire protection and fire dynamics within buildings and communities; and resilience and reliability of structures at risk to multiple hazards. Our researchers come from a broad array of backgrounds including: chemistry, physics, materials science, mathematics, computer science, intelligent systems, information technology, fire science, computer engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, fire engineering, environmental engineering, economics.... SURF Project Proposals is a list of projects from 2023 and are examples hosted by the lab. The list for the 2024 projects will be posted in December 2023.  For further information on EL’s work, please browse the Engineering Laboratory website:

If you are interested in interning in the Engineering Laboratory next summer, we hope to see an application from you! SURF students gain valuable hands-on experience by working one-on-one with an engineer or scientist for 11 weeks... and you get paid too. In addition to a $5500 stipend, travel and housing allowances are available for those who live outside of the NIST immediate area.  Complete information about the program and application process is available on the SURF Application page.  The essay within your application is extremely important. Use this opportunity to tell the reviewers about yourself, indicate the type of research you are interested in, and why you think that SURF will have an impact on you. You may specify interest in one or more of the proposed projects listed in the document titled: “EL Proposed 2024 SURF Projects by Division” (see link above).  All of this information is helpful to find the best match with our mentors/projects.

There are SURF opportunities throughout NIST's technical research areas – including opportunities at NIST's other campuses. Check out their web pages as well!

NOTE – If you stop the application with the intent of completing it later, please be aware that once there are 1,000 applicants, the Application will close and you will not have the opportunity to complete it.  So it is recommended that you do not allow much time to elapse between starting and completing your application.

2019 EL SURF Students
2019 EL SURF Students
Created February 10, 2010, Updated November 17, 2023