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The National Institute for Nano-Engineering (NINE) is a government/university/industry collaboration formed to develop the next generation of innovation leaders for the U.S. by involving students in large scale multi-disciplinary research projects focused on developing nano-enabled solutions to important national problems. NINE addresses a growing national concern; that America’s science and engineering education and innovation engine is in danger.  The America COMPETES Act, signed in August 2007, provides a national strategy to address this concern.

In accord with this strategy, NINE was established as a national innovation hub in the exciting and rapidly developing field of nano-engineering.  NINE is intended to be the model of a novel partnership between universities and companies throughout the nation and the Department of Energy (DOE), with Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) as the host lab for NINE.

tempOpportunities for University Students and Faculty
NINE graduate students are involved in technical projects that develop nano-enabled solutions to important national problems ranging from national security to energy.  These projects emphasize pre-competitive research in a highly collaborative environment combining students with Sandia and industry mentors and university faculty.  They capitalize on DOE’s extensive investment in micro/nano R&D equipment and facilities at Sandia together with facilities at partner’s sites.  NINE graduate students will have thesis projects that are part of the NINE research program and will work during summers at Sandia or industry partner sites.  NINE’s technical projects are selected with input from partners to ensure high application and economic value.

NINE also provides students novel exposure to other innovation-relevant topics including business, legal, communications, political, and social considerations through mentors, courses, seminars by world-leading experts, and real world experiences.  Access to outstanding distance learning opportunities provided by NINE universities will also be available.

Students can access the NINE program through NINE university faculty members.

Opportunities for NINE Partners
NINE provides unique opportunities for its industry, university, and government partners based on its nationwide network of top researchers, students, facilities and on-going programs in nano-engineering.

Industry Partners
Through NINE, U.S. industry partners have:

Industry partners are expected to participate in NINE activities, provide two summer internships for NINE students, and pay annual dues that will be used to co-fund NINE research projects selected by its members and to pay for patents resulting from NINE projects.

University Partners
NINE provides its university partners

University partners are expected to be nationally recognized leaders in nano-engineering research, participate in NINE activities, respond to NINE proposal calls and provide predominantly U.S. citizen students and faculty to participate in NINE projects.

Sandia National Laboratories and DOE
NINE involves Sandia organizations and mentors in projects that are strategic to its customers and synergistic with its strengths.  Top students, faculty, and industry researchers  come to Sandia, contribute to its knowledge base, and become partners in its work. 

Intellectual Property
NINE-sponsored inventions will be owned by the inventing organization(s).  NINE will pay the costs of patenting selected inventions and of maintaining and licensing the patents to NINE members.  Patented inventions created during NINE projects shall be made available to all NINE members in good standing.  Industry members receive a non-exclusive, paid up license to make, use, sell products, and practice methods covered by the patents.  University members have the right to conduct further research and development on NINE inventions.

NINE Status
Last year NINE initiated 14 new projects supported by a $7.5M Sandia investment.  Last summer it held its first Summer Student Program attended by 33 undergraduate and graduate students from 14 universities. 
All NINE members have agreed to support and actively participate in bringing together the strong science and engineering capabilities of Sandia, leading universities, and companies who are among the world’s technology leaders, to help develop the next generation of innovators and innovations and bring these to bear on the nation’s most challenging problems.  A near term goal for NINE members is to support the creation of Discovery Science and Engineering Innovation Institutes (DSEII) by DOE and encourage the selection of NINE as one of these.

Initial NINE Members
Government:  Sandia National Laboratories
Industrial Partners:  Corning, Exxon Mobil, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, IBM, Intel, Lockheed Martin
University Partners: Harvard University, Harvey Mudd College, Notre Dame University, Rice University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of California at Davis, University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of New Mexico, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas at Austin, Yale University  

NINE expects to expand its membership in all categories once it is selected as a DSEII.

If you require additional information or have comments on this webpage, please contact Chris Monroe at