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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission.

Vacancy announcements for the SURF 2023 program are closed. The application for SURF 2024 will be open by mid-November 2023. 

The SURF 2023 program format is hybrid, including in-person and virtual components. AppliApplications due no later than 11:59 PM (ET) on February 1, 2023, for consideration for the program.

The SURF program runs from May 22 to Aug 3, 2023, with accommodations available to address specific academic schedules (e.g., quarter systems).

Applicants may also find it helpful to view frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)! Since 1993, SURF students from across the country have gained valuable, hands-on experience by working with cutting-edge technology in one of the world's leading research organizations and home to three Nobel Prize winners.

NIST is one of the nation's premiere research institutions for the physical and engineering sciences. As the lead Federal agency for technology transfer, it provides an essential interface between government, industry, and academia. As an organization, NIST is the embodiment of a scientific community; developed from a large and well-equipped research staff that enthusiastically blends programs addressing the immediate needs of industry with long-term research that anticipates future needs. This rare setting enables NIST laboratories to offer unique research and training opportunities for undergraduates, providing them with a research-rich environment and exposure to state-of-the-art equipment.

The NIST SURF program sponsors an 11-week summer internship program for undergraduate students enrolled at U.S. 2-year and 4-year institutions majoring in chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, fire research, nanotechnology, information technology, mathematics, biology, manufacturing, statistics, or other STEM disciplines. Designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission, the program provides students with hands-on research experience under the mentorship of a NIST scientist or engineer in Boulder, CO, or Gaithersburg, MD. Students can work on projects in any of the NIST facilities listed below:

  • Communications Technology Laboratory
  • Engineering Laboratory
  • Information Technology Laboratory
  • Material Measurement Laboratory 
  • NIST Center for Neutron Research (administered jointly with the Material Measurement Laboratory)
  • Physical Measurement Laboratory

Additionally, special projects may be available through offices such as NIST's Special Programs Office, Technology Partnerships Office, and Standards Coordination Office.

View the 2019 Student Abstract Book to see examples of past SURF student projects and explore the breadth of the SURF program.

Taking Measure Blog Posts from SURF Students