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NIST Centennial Gala: Thomas A. Manuel

Mr. Secretary, Director Brown, eminent former directors, honored guests.

Thank you, Karen, for that introduction, and thank you, Secretary Evans, for your support of NIST.

It is indeed an honor for me to represent not only the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, but also all of American industry, before such a distinguished audience.  It would be a hopeless task to comment in detail on the myriad contributions of NIST in millions of interactions, over a century, so I'll speak only in general.

There are three simple messages to NIST from American industry:

First:  Congratulations for 100 years of technology and scientific achievement and for becoming the world's premier measurements and standards organization.

Second:  Thank you!  Thank you to the institution; thank you to its supporters in government and industry, and above all thank you to the men and women of NIST.  We are proud of you!

And third: stay with us—we need you more than ever!

As we begin a new century, NIST is a national treasure.  NIST stands at the confluence of three major themes in American history—science and technology, commerce, and cooperation.   These do not stand apart.  NIST exemplifies the complex and productive ways in which they intertwine.

We honor NIST not only for its leading-edge science, but also for its integrity, impartiality, openness and outreach to industry.   Through its measurements and standards activities, its stewardship of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Program, its service to small and large businesses, its high-leverage support of high-risk technology development, and its role in convening partnerships, NIST is a true enabler of the American economic miracle.

The strength of the American system is its ability to respond to change and unpredictability.   In science and technology as much as in government and the economy, this ability rests on our decentralization, diversity, and flexibility, coupled with a willingness to work together.   NIST's role must support these strengths.

In the last century we have gained incredible insight into our physical world through analysis in increasingly fine-grained microscopic—dare I say nanoscopic? —detail.   NIST has been a leader in the measurements that make this possible.

But progress for the citizens depends on a tortuous process from science to technology to commercialization to economic benefit.  This process by which we advance requires integration across boundaries between sectors, institutions, disciplines, and people.  Increasingly the challenges of the 21st century will require us not only to isolate and understand specific phenomena and causes, but to think holistically and to integrate our fragmented understanding back up to the system level, where it benefits the lives of people.

As we face these challenges, American industry is confident that NIST will continue to lead, to listen, to change, and to be our pro-active and responsive partner.

Thank you!

Created October 14, 2009, Updated October 24, 2016