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Surety Science and Engineering Workshop
September 23, 1998

Sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering,
the National Academy of Sciences,
and the Department of Energy

Produced by Sandia National Laboratories

[Murrah building bombing]
"... America's unrivaled military superiority means that potential enemies that choose to attack us will be more likely to resort to terror instead of conventional military assault. Moreover, easier access to sophisticated technology means that the destructive power available to terrorists is greater than ever. Adversaries may thus be tempted to use unconventional tools, such as weapons of mass destruction, to target our cities and disrupt the operations of our government. They may try to attack our economy and critical infrastructure using advanced computer technology." - Summary of Presidential Decision Directive 62, Combating Terrorism
More than 100 executives from universities, industry, and government agencies attended the Surety Science and Engineering Workshop conducted by Sandia National Laboratories at the National Academy of Sciences headquarters in Washington, D.C. on September 23, 1998. As quoted in a front-page story in the Sept. 8 New Technology Week, workshop participants interactively studied "adoption of a new management paradigm. Sandia calls this management process 'surety science and engineering,' a discipline whose origins come from the laboratory's 50 years of engineering and managing 'very high consequence' systems -- most notably nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors."

Sandia showcased its surety expertise as the organizer of the first-ever Surety Science and Engineering Workshop. "The goal of the workshop," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs Vic Reis's invitation to particpants was "to explore the methodology of Surety Science and Engineering and to use it to generate options for partnerships of government, universities, and industry to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation."

After a presentation of a proposed Surety Science and Engineering methodology, Sandia led breakout sessions that explored surety principles and technologies as they apply to emerging national needs in defense, energy, and the environment, as well as how these same principles can and are being applied in the effort to safeguard Americans and their infrastructures.

Sandia already has developed partnerships to develop such technologies with agencies such as the FBI, Department of Defense, and National Institute of Justice.

Exhibits and presentations in collaboration with our partners showed how surety principles are being used to:

  • Maintain and increase the surety of the nation's nuclear deterrent.
  • Increase the surety of the nation's critical infrastructures.
  • Monitor and analyze a staggering range of activities, materials, and communications that could be evidence of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons development.
  • Design and build structures that can better withstand natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
  • Develop ultra-sensitive sensors that can detect minute particles of explosives on a terrorist attempting to board an airplane.
  • Construct a "smart gun" that prevents unauthorized use.
  • Develop a bomb-disabling device that was instrumental in solving the Unabomber case.
  • Produce a mine detector with the ability to "sniff out" explosives in order to help rid the world of the abandoned deadly devices.
  • Develop high-integrity software for critical systems.
  • Increase the reliability of electronics.
  • Design ultra-secure computer networks.
Displays and presentations will be posted on this site as they become available.


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