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August 20, 2007

DOE/NNSA to dedicate half billion-dollar microsystems engineering sciences complex at Sandia

Technologies to include radiation resilient electronics for national security

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —On Thursday, Aug. 23, top officials from the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Sandia National Laboratories, and the U.S. Senate will celebrate the final addition to a complex at Sandia that will produce electronic circuits and computer chips that can withstand high levels of radiation. These “hardened” electronics are critical to national security needs because they assure the reliability of nuclear weapons and other capabilities under even the most hazardous of conditions.

The opening of the new Weapons Integration Facility completes NNSA’s eight-year, $516 million Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) project. The 400,000-square-foot MESA complex consists of three buildings: the Microelectronics Development Laboratory and MicroFab, the Microsystems Laboratory, and the Weapons Integration Facility. The project is the largest in the history of the lab and was completed three years ahead of schedule and $40 million below budget. To an unprecedented degree, it will combine electronic and optoelectronics fabrication facilities with Sandia’s supercomputing simulations.

A seven-foot tall brass statue of Willis Whitfield, the retired Sandia employee who solved a major problem in making modern microelectronic production possible, will be unveiled during the ceremony. He will be recognized as the engineer that discovered how to remove particles of dust from silicon fabrication facilities, a problem that would cause almost a 50 percent failure rate in the etching of small circuits.

Details of the open press event are as follows:

WHAT:   Dedication Ceremony of the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) complex at Sandia
WHO:   Clay Sell, Department of Energy Deputy Secretary
Thomas D’Agostino, Administrator, NNSA
U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
Tom Hunter, Sandia National Laboratories President and Laboratories Director
WHEN:   Thursday, Aug. 23
9:15 a.m. – Media meet at the Kirtland Air Force Base contractor gate, just south of the employee entrance on Eubank Blvd. roughly a mile south of Central Ave.
10 a.m. – Event begins
11:10 a.m. – Media availability
11:25 a.m. – Media tour of facility
WHERE:   Sandia Building 898
 Albuquerque, N.M.
CONTACT:   Media must RSVP by Wed. Aug. 22 to Neal Singer (505) 845-7078 (Attendees must be U.S. citizens. News media who have never been to Sandia must furnish their date of birth and Social Security numbers, as well as media affiliation.)

NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371
Department of Energy Public Affairs (202) 586-4940

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Neal Singer,, (505) 845-7078