The UNH-IOL is an example of how commercial and academic interests can work together for mutual benefits. Companies get access to low-cost, high skilled labor and students get access to training opportunities beyond what a normal academic curriculum offers. Students typically work there during the undergradute study, although some continue to work there after graduation, either as staff or graduate students. The IOL also sponsors a annual summer intern ship program for upcoming high school seniors.
More than 100 graduate and undergraduate student-employees work with full-time UNH-IOL staff, gaining hands-on experience with developing technologies and products from hundreds of major companies. The laboratory operates independently of the university's academic departments at its 32,000+ square foot facility in Durham, New Hampshire.
From UNH-IOL's site: "The UNH-IOL is the only full-scale, non-profit test lab in the world dedicated to fostering cooperation and understanding within the data communications industry while at the same time providing hands-on experience to future engineers. The laboratory performs testing in two different scenarios interoperability group tests (plugfests) and private one-on-one testing and debugging."
Over time, as interest in a particular area of technology fades (such as with ATM or token ring), the consortium may be disbanded, or made into a testing service. Likewise, as interest in a new technology grows, a consortium may be founded in order to start testing devices of that type. Testing services are not consortia, and offer testing à la carte rather than through an annual membership fee.
Each group has a series of test suites that they use in order to test a specific aspect of a device's functions. For example, on a Fast Ethernet device, a customer may ask that flow control functionality be tested. Test suites can be found at each group's section of the IOL webpage, such as Wireless LAN Consortium