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Newsmakers

Setting the standard 

Alumna Joannie Chin will lead the Engineering laboratory at NIST.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has its duties enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers saw the need to apply universal engineering standards to weights and measures. The task has become far more complex with the emergence of new technologies and capabilities, like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and unmanned delivery services. 

A Case-trained materials scientist will help to see that the vast job is done. The NIST has selected Joannie Chin ’86, PhD, to lead its Engineering Laboratory, the U.S. Commerce Department announced in December. She’ll oversee an $83 million budget and lead a team of about 800 staff members who foster universal engineering standards while applying them to new challenges and even catastrophes. 

For example, Chin’s lab is leading NIST’s two current National Construction Safety Team investigations into the impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium, in Surfside, Florida. 

Meanwhile, her lab covers a wide range of research on engineered systems. It includes programs focused on the development of measurement science for critical national needs, including infrastructure renewal, building performance, and energy efficiency. 

Chin has been at NIST for 26 years as a materials research engineer, most recently serving as acting director of the Engineering Lab. Earlier in her career, she was a research scientist with Gould’s Foil Division in Cleveland and consulted for Babcock & Wilcox. She also interned at Dow Chemical and the Standard Oil Co. while earning her bachelor’s degree in polymer science and engineering at Case Institute of Technology.

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