The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program is for students majoring in science, engineering, and mathematics. There are two program sites: one at NIST‘s Boulder, Colorado campus and another  at NIST‘s Gaithersburg, Maryland campus. Smith College students participated in NIST SURF in 2016 and 2017  (1 student), 2015 (2 students) and 2014 (3 students).

NIST SURF at Boulder provides opportunities for approximately 20 SURFers. Opportunities are available in the fields of:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Materials Science
  • Physics
NIST SURF at Gaithersburg provides opportunties for appoximately 150 SURFers. Opportunities are available in the following NIST labs:

  • Material Measurement
  • Physical Measurement
  • Communications Technology
  • Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • NIST Center for Neutron Research

Applications for participation in NIST SURF must be made via USAJOBS.

Also see details on the Gaithersburg and Boulder application pages


  • Applicants must be US citizens who are undergraduates at a US college in a “technical major.” Students with physics, materials science, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, or engineering majors are encouraged to apply.
  • A 3.0 GPA or better is recommended. Based on past experience: students with GPAs lower than 3.5 will need exceptional research skills and experience to be competitive applicants.
  • Apply only if  you are available to participate in the full program: Boulder – May 18 to July 31, 2020 and Gaithersburg – May 26 to August 7, 2020.

Time line

  • Applications are due via USAJOBS by February 3, 2020. Note that Boulder has a 350 applicant limit and Gaithersburg has a 1000 applicant limit. Therefore, the program may stop taking applications ahead of the deadline. Apply early!

A complete application includes: Copies of relevant college transcripts, current resume, two letters of recommendation (non-confidential – the applicant must submit them electronically with the application), a comprehensive questionnaire, and proof of citizenship/permanent residency and health care coverage. The questionnaire (Boulder, Gaithersburg), resume, and letters of recommendation should contain information that helps the review committee make an informed decision about the student, such as why the student wants to participate in the SURF NIST program and what areas of NIST research interest the student.