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NIST's SURF on the Hill Event Gives Students a Glimpse of the U.S. Standardization System


ANSI was the event sponsor

At the recent "SURF on the Hill," event, 146 student participants of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program met with congressional representatives on Capitol Hill and gave updates on their ongoing research at NIST laboratory facilities. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), an event sponsor since 2015, was there to give students better insights on the importance of standardization work and how it supports careers in industry, academia, and government agencies.

Launched in 1993, the SURF program was designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue tracks in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers, through hands-on, collaborative work and research that supports the NIST mission.

Over the course of 11 weeks, the student "SURFers" contribute to the ongoing research of one of the seven NIST facilities: the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), the Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL), the Engineering Laboratory (EL), the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), the Material Measurement Laboratory (MML), the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), or the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML).

During the event, Dr. Kent Rochford, NIST's acting under secretary for standards and technology, provided opening remarks that focused on the importance of the SURF program to NIST and to STEM education. Mary Saunders, ANSI's vice president for government relations and public policy, gave the SURFers a high-level overview of the U.S. standardization system, and advised the students that they were likely future contributors to standardization activities as part of their future careerswhether in industry, government, or academia.

Guest speaker and space entrepreneur Robert Richards, co-founder and CEO of Moon Express, Inc., a U.S. company awarded a $10M commercial lunar contract by NASA, and competitor in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, spoke about the importance of a science education and the ability to take an idea from research to commercialization.

The SURF participants, who hailed from several states, also networked with Capitol Hill representatives, including staffers from Maryland and Coloradoboth home to NIST facilities.

ANSI Helps Educate the Next Generation to Support Standardization

ANSI also helps educate the next generation of professionals on the strategic impact of standards and conformity assessment through its numerous standards learning resources for K-12 students, university outreach program, and education-based events and opportunities. The Institute supports college- and graduate-level students and young professionals through its summer internship program (launched in the mid-90s) and, in conjunction with its Committee on Education (CoE), its annual student paper competition, as part of its ongoing efforts to spread awareness among postsecondary students of the strategic significance of standards and conformance. For more on ANSI's student resources, visit

For more on NIST's SURF program, read more on the fellowship website. See photos of the SURF event on ANSI's Flickr page.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]