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Remarks at Dedication Ceremony of Western Institute of Nanotechnology on Green Engineering and Metrology (WIN GEM)

[As prepared.]

I'm very pleased to be here today on behalf of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Commerce to help dedicate and celebrate the new WIN GEM laboratory.

NIST and UCLA have a history. Around 1947-1954, the Institute for Numerical Analysis was established here, where Parking Structure 5 is, and we built the Standards Western Automatic Computer, with the help of an Alan Turing protégé, Harry Huskey (Imitation Game, Enigma).

The dual missions of this facility—to advance nanotechnology and to develop novel energy conservation technologies for electronics and the electronics industry—address topics of major importance for our nation.

They also are topics of keen interest to NIST. We have major research facilities dedicated to nanotechnology and energy efficiency. And, of course, you have "metrology" as part of the name, so for all these reasons, we are proud to have played a part in making this new facility possible. 

You can take your pick from many statistics that underscore the importance of the work that will be pursued here. Here's just one: according to the most recent data I could find from the Energy Information Administration, appliances, electronics and lighting accounted for more than 34 percent of energy use in U.S. homes in 2009. 

Now you're thinking, "Appliances? That's lumping in refrigerators and ovens."

But consider this: the previous decade, it was only about 24 percent. And in the intervening years, government and industry programs led to significantly more efficient lightbulbs, refrigerators, and kitchen appliances. They've been using less energy, but our electronic devices are picking up the slack and then some. 

The International Energy Agency estimates that consumer electronics and computer equipment now represent 15 percent of global residential electricity consumption. That is expected to triple by 2030, unless actions are taken to increase energy efficiency.

So, yes, this is important work. Work that NIST also is backing through a multiyear grant to the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative that supports WIN and three other major university research centers.

I want to stress that today we are affirming the public good that can be done with investments in science and technology.

During its span, the NIST Research Construction Grants program helped to fund either new construction or expansions at 24 research facilities across the country, mostly at universities. It was a very unusual program, one of the rare government grant programs to fund laboratory construction.

They were tough, merit-based competitions. This project was in competition with more than 100 other proposals, of which we funded only five.

The research fields we touched with the construction grants program ran from marine ecology to quantum physics to earthquake simulation to nanoscale measurement. What they had in common was the creation of modern, state-of-the-art lab space. Practical research facilities to do the work of science.

The overarching goal was to help the United States produce world-leading research in science and technology to advance economic growth, our nation's international competitiveness, and the public good.

I firmly believe that it was money well spent.

Thank you.

Created May 11, 2015, Updated December 29, 2016