Export Controls

With more than 50 project centers across six continents, numerous research projects with international collaborators, and most recently the establishment of the Global School, WPI clearly encourages international collaborations and relationships.  Global engagement is one of WPI’s core values. This engagement brings with it the responsibility to conduct our affairs in accordance with applicable laws and regulations governing international trade, including all U.S. export control laws and regulations.

The Departments of Commerce, State and Treasury are the primary agencies in charged with the implementation and enforcement of export regulations. Each of the Departments is responsible for different areas of exports, though there are times when jurisdiction may overlap. The Department of Commerce regulates the export of items and information that have civil applications, the Department of State regulates the export of items that have military applications or that relate to space, and the Department of the Treasury enforces country-specific embargoes and financial sanctions on individuals, organizations and countries.

More information from these agencies can be found through the links at the bottom of this page.

WPI personnel are required to adhere to these U.S export control laws and regulations as well as  WPI procedures established to maintain institutional compliance with them. Affected activities and compliance responsibilities are outlined below.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research coordinates WPI’s compliance with export control laws and will facilitate the procurement of all required export licenses.
For questions, contact Gabe Johnson, WPI's Export Control Officer.

Activities Affected by Export Controls

In the context of higher education, export control regulations apply most frequently to international collaborations, foreign travel, and shipping or carrying items to other countries. When export controls apply—for example, when we use disclosure-restricted technical information to generate our fundamental research or hand carry items outside the US in our baggage—the export of regulated items, information, or software may require approval from the US Government in the form of an export license. An export license permits "controlled" tangible items or software to be sent outside of the US, or controlled information or software code to be shared with foreign persons, either in the US or abroad.

Conducting research involving export-controlled technology

While most research conducted at WPI falls under the fundamental research exclusion (FRE), the FRE does not automatically apply to academic research. For instance, research projects with restrictions on publication/dissemination, or projects with restrictions on foreign personnel, are not fundamental research. Certain Foreign Persons may not be able to participate in research involving export-controlled technology, or technical data, without a license.

Compliance Responsibilities: The Principal Investigator (PI) must contact Gabe Johnson if conducting research involving export-controlled technology or technical data. Gabe will assist in determining whether or not the Fundamental Research Exclusion applies, and will facilitate the acquisition of licenses if required.

The Office of Sponsored Programs will, to the extent possible, work to preserve the fundamental research exclusion in grants and contracts, and will inform PIs in cases when it does not apply. Non-fundamental research involving ECT may not be conducted in an open setting. It requires a technology control plan, which will include, among other things, restrictions on the sharing and dissemination of research results.

The PI is required to comply with the technology control plan, or with any stipulations in the export license if applicable.

Disclosing or transferring controlled technology or technical data to a Foreign Person in the U.S

A license may be required to release certain information or technical data to a Foreign Person in the U.S. Examples of releases to Foreign Person (known as “deemed exports”) include providing access to controlled technology, by visual inspection or use, or providing access via tours of facilities, verbal exchanges of controlled technical data or information that grants access to controlled technology or technical data.

Compliance Responsibilities: Individuals working with export-controlled technology are responsible for preventing unlicensed deemed exports. For projects funded by grants or contracts, the Principal Investigator has primary responsibility for his/her lab’s compliance. Before releasing export-controlled technology or data to a Foreign Person, the owner should contact Gabe Johnson. He will help determine license requirements, if any, and will assist in the acquisition of any required license. PIs working on export-controlled projects should consult Gabe before sharing information with visiting scholars or collaborators at foreign institutions.

Shipping or carrying controlled technology abroad

Shipping or carrying technology outside of the USA may require an export license. Additionally, shipping items to a restricted party in a foreign country may be prohibited by law. Shipping or carrying any technology to an embargoed or sanctioned country is prohibited.

Compliance Responsibilities: WPI Personnel who ship or carry technology abroad must ensure that the technology does not require an export license. This can often be verified by contacting the manufacturer or vendor for items/software. Contact Gabe Johnson if you need help making this determination.

Management Research Review, Editor-in-Chief, 2006-2016

WPI Personnel may not purchase items that are listed on the USML or subject to ITAR without the prior written approval of the Vice Provost for Research. If a vendor requires any export-related certifications, agreements, or other documents requiring signature, those documents must be reviewed by the Export Control Officer and signed by the VPR or his/her designee.

Compliance Responsibilities: When purchasing new technology for research or teaching, the purchaser is responsible for determining whether it is subject to export controls. Purchasers should consult with OSP regarding any purchases of export-controlled technology, as a technology control plan may be required.

Travel or research outside the USA

Traveling outside the U.S. with certain items or equipment, such as laptop computers, encryption software, or certain research instruments, may require a license, depending on the travel destination. The sharing of personal knowledge or technical expertise in other countries (e.g., as a keynote speaker, visiting lecturer, etc.) may also invoke export licensing requirements. Gabe Johnson can assist with determining whether a license for provision of such services is required.

Compliance Responsibilities: If traveling outside the U.S. with physical items, materials and/or encrypted devices, it is the traveler's responsibility to ensure that the items, materials, and/or devices do not require an export license.

The traveling individual may verify a technology’s ECCN with the vendor, but must contact OSP if the ECCN is anything other than “EAR99.” WPI faculty traveling to overseas project centers should take particular care not to bring with them any research data, software, or equipment which may be subject to export controls. Faculty are encouraged to consult with OSP for help in determining whether they are.

Sea-Sky Scholar, Dalian University of Technology, 2014

Certain financial transactions with restricted parties or Specially Designated Nationals, which include, but are not limited to, individuals or entities from sanctioned or embargoed countries, may be prohibited.

Compliance Responsibilities: Before initiating financial transactions to a Foreign Person, WPI personnel must ensure that the financial transaction is not restricted / prohibited.  Gabe Johnson should be consulted to help make this determination.

Restrictive Trade Practices and Boycotts

The EAR prohibits U.S. persons and businesses from participating in boycotts that are inconsistent with U.S. Government Policy. These regulations were created specifically in response to the Arab League boycott of Israel.

WPI will not enter into any agreement that supports a restrictive trade practice or boycott imposed by another country.

Compliance Responsibilities:  If WPI Personnel receive a request or agreement/contract that supports a restrictive trade practice or boycott imposed by another country, this must promptly be reported the Export Control Officer who, in turn, is obligated to report it to the Department of Commerce.

WPI Personnel are reminded that contracts can only be signed by authorized signatories. Any contracts pertaining to research activities should be referred to OSP for review.

Key Terms and Definitions

Guo Moruo Scholarship

A release of export-controlled technology or software source code to a Foreign Person in the US.  A regulated export is thereby "deemed" to take place to the Foreign Person's home country or last country of citizenship.  Export-controlled technology is "released" for export either a) when it is made available to Foreign Persons for visual inspection (such as reading technical specifications, plans, blueprints, etc.); b) when technology is exchanged orally; and/or c) when technology is made available by practice or application under the guidance of persons with knowledge of the technology.

Although the State Department does not use this term, but rather includes this concept as an element of its definition of export (a "defense service"), WPI will use the term "deemed export" when discussing access by Foreign Persons to export-controlled technology or source code on US soil, without regard to which agency may have cognizance over the transaction.

Defense Articles

Any items (or related technical data) specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted, or modified for a military, missile, satellite, or other controlled use. Defense articles also include things such as models, mock-ups, etc.

Defense Services

The furnishing of assistance, including training, to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad in the design, manufacture, installation, repair, or operation of a defense article. Also, the furnishing of controlled technical data to foreign persons.

Dual Use

Items, information, and software that are primarily commercial or civil in nature but also have potential military applications. Dual use items that are identified on the Export Administration Regulation's Commerce Control List (CCL) have an Export Control Commodity Number (ECCN) and are of elevated strategic concern. Dual use items that are subject to regulation but are not identified on the CCL are termed "EAR99." Dual use items may require an export license depending on the item, the recipient, the recipient's citizenship or country of destination, and the item's application.


A designation under the EAR, applied mostly low-technology goods. Items and technical data designated as EAR99 generally do not require a license for export. A license may be required when exporting EAR99 technology to a restricted person, for a restricted use (e.g. military or nuclear) use, or to an embargoed country.


To send or take controlled tangible items, software, or information out of the United States in any manner (including hand-carried), to transfer ownership or control of controlled tangible items, software, or information to a foreign person, or to disclose information about controlled items, software, or information to a foreign government or foreign person. The controlled tangible item, software or information being sent or taken out of the United States is also referred to as an "export."

Fundamental Research

The concept of "fundamental research" was established by National Security Decision Directive 189 (see Related Items Below). NSDD 189 defines fundamental research as:

"Basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is to be shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons."

NSDD 189 intends that the conduct and informational products of fundamental research are to be unfettered by deemed export restrictions. It also states that research whose results carry dissemination or foreign national access restrictions does not qualify as fundamental research outside the scope of US export control regulation.

Because export regulations expressly recognize that the conduct and informational products of fundamental research are excluded from deemed export controls, export licenses or other government approval is generally not needed before involving foreign persons in fundamental research activity at WPI. However, such research may give rise to export issues if 1) the primary research is to be conducted outside of the US; 2) requires foreign person access to ITAR-listed items and technical data; or 3) requires foreign person access to disclosure-restricted technical information or software code generated by third parties such as defense contractors, commercial vendors or collaborators.


Items, information, software ("defense articles") and technical assistance ("defense services") specially designed or adapted for military use or which "provide a critical military of intelligence advantage." Defense articles include certain satellites and spacecraft.  

Defense articles and defense services are identified on the ITAR's US Munitions List. ITAR-listed items that are not the tangible products of university fundamental research generally require a license for campus access and use by all foreign persons.

Technical Data

Information which is required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of an item. This includes information in the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions or documentation.

US Person

A citizen of United States, a lawful permanent resident alien of the US, (a Green Card holder), a refugee or someone here as a protected political asylee or under amnesty. US persons also include organizations and entities, such as universities, incorporated in the US. The general rule is that only US persons are eligible to receive controlled items, software or information without first obtaining an export license from the appropriate agency unless a license exception or exclusion is available.

U.S. Department
Office/section responsible for export controls
Items controlled


Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC)

Foreign Assets Control Regulations (FACR)

Sanctions programs can govern travel abroad, transactions with foreign individuals and entities or in specific foreign countries, and export and import of items.


Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)

Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

Dual-use goods, software, and technology predominantly civilian in nature but may include military applications.

Antiboycott provisions.


Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

Defense articles and technical data. Goods, software, or information specifically designed, developed, or modified for military or intelligence application.

Defense services.