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Maine-NIST Form Unique Partnership

June 18, 1999

Maine Governor Angus King, Jr. and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology Gary Bachula signed a letter of partnership last week that links the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) with a variety of organizations in Maine. Bachula heads the Department of Commerce's Technology Administration (TA), which includes NIST.

This is the first such partnership between NIST and a state and is anticipated to serve as a pilot for possible expansion to other states if successful.

"I am excited about the prospect of this new teaming arrangement, which should yield positive returns not only to Maine, but to other parts of the country which will benefit from the results of this cooperation. It is a perfect fit for inclusion under the umbrella of the U.S. Innovation Partnership," Bachula said.

Building on several existing relationships Maine has established with NIST, the partnership outlines seven new initiatives to explore for further cooperation, including:

  • NIST and TA will offer technical assistance to Maine in designing an infrastructure to maximize the economic impact of its expanding funding for science and technology.
  • Businesses in Maine have identified measurement and technical needs as they find ways to apply optical technology in measurement and inspection, production process diagnostics, machine vision, and remote sensing. NIST Physics Laboratory researchers who specialize in optics will provide technical assistance to those companies.
  • NIST building researchers will team with experts in the University of Maine's Advanced Engineered Wood Composite Center to explore the commercial and technical feasibility of using wood composite materials in new and existing construction that would enable the state to make the best use of a changing tree stock available in the state.
  • NIST will help to plan and fund a study of Maine small businesses' understanding and use of the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence which serves as a guidebook for organizational improvement. The study will identify opportunities for improving the criteria to encourage their use by small businesses.
  • Companies in Maine's active composite materials industry will compare notes with NIST Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory experts in composites to consider collaborations that could include transfer of NIST-developed technologies and joint research on measurement test methods for process monitoring and quality control measurements in composites production and new technology areas and markets.
  • NIST's Office of Standards Services will work with the state to improve the ability of Maine companies to export to Europe and other global markets. The joint effort will aim to establish mechanisms in Maine for assessing a product's conformity to foreign government requirements.
  • Special training will be provided by NIST for Maine's weights and measures officials, and NIST will work with the state on a pilot project for comparing measurements of mass which could serve as a model for the rest of the country.

More information about the new Maine-NIST initiative, including a copy of the letter of partnership can be downloaded from the NIST press section on the Web: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/g99-78.htm  

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