Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to participate in this event to officially launch the NIST SPHERE.
I especially want to thank our many industry and government partners, not only for being here today to help us celebrate, but for being here for the past several years working with the talented staff of the NIST Polymeric Materials Group to make this device possible.
This project is at the heart of how NIST works most effectively - through industry and government working together to develop and promote measurement, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life.
For more than 100 years, partnerships have been a way of life at NIST and one of our most vital tools in developing cutting-edge technology with wide-ranging applications.
As the director of the largest U.S. government laboratory with technology in its name, I firmly believe that a strong technology base is key in helping the United States improve our economy and global competitiveness.
I am not the only one with this belief. President Bush, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and the entire Administration are committed to strengthening American leadership in science and technology and hastening the flow of new knowledge, new capabilities, and new products.
This "black ball of sunshine" that we call the NIST SPHERE, is prime evidence of this
commitment. It is really a remarkable device that is going to revolutionize how products are developed, tested, and marketed.
No more waiting for years and years to determine how a product is going to perform - in Maryland, only to realize it will not perform that way in Texas or California or Alaska.
It is also going to help consumers select the best product for their needs. Currently, Americans spend billions every year on maintenance, repair and replacement of materials that fail due to the effects of weathering.
But, until now, manufacturers had no quick and reliable way to accurately predict these effects on their product. In the past, testing was done by leaving polymer products outside for years, or by using an indoor weathering chamber.
As you know, neither method works very well.
The NIST SPHERE can generate controlled temperatures, humidity, and UV exposure for more than 500 samples at a time.
Not only does it provide a controlled environment, but it can accelerate weathering research. Materials exposed to the SPHERE's UV light for one day receive the equivalent dose of 50 days of sunlight.
The SPHERE will make it possible for manufacturers, including most of you here today, to rapidly develop innovative products tailored for specific environments and will enable consumers to choose a product based not only on cost, but also on its expected service life performance.
Today's ribbon cutting symbolizes an exciting new way of doing business for many industries.
And, that is good for business, for the consumer, and for the economy.
Once again, to our partners, both in industry and in government, thank you for all of your support and hard work. Working together, we will continue to make advances in technology ensuring that America remains the world's technology leader.