If you’ve noticed more new faces onsite or in Zoom calls, it could be because the summer interns are here! June 6 marked the beginning of Workforce Development and Education (WD&E)’s summer term. WD&E hosts and facilitates all of the Lab’s Department of Energy’s Office of Science internship programs, as well as additional internships across the Lab’s divisions. This year, WD&E staff are hosting 77 interns who are working with mentors and associate mentors in each area on projects such as the evaluation of mechanical properties of composite materials for particle accelerators and earth and environmental science communications and journalism. For these curious minds, this summer offers an opportunity to dive into new challenges.
Through internships, workshops, and seminars, WD&E staff work to inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers, technologists, and STEM professionals. From 2016-2020, the program hosted 687 interns, 28% percent of whom self-identified as being from an underrepresented minority group.
WD&E Director Colette Flood said: “Workforce Development & Education supports those who want to explore a career in science and technology. Our internships and seminars provide hands-on learning opportunities for researchers from all backgrounds. We support the DOE’s mission to create a pipeline of highly skilled and diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers.”
Safety training is a priority for all interns at the Lab. Prior to the interns’ first day, they completed a number of Work Planning & Control (WPC) courses, including safety training relevant to their work activities.
According to Laurel Davis, Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S) Manager, “Each intern is assigned safety training relevant to their work activities. If it is computer work, it may be just ergonomics training. If the intern is doing lab work, lab safety training will be required.”
Following orientation, mentors conducted a safety walkaround with interns working on-site. All interns also completed a WD&E safety and security checklist, specially developed by WD&E staff in collaboration with subject matter experts from EH&S, and answered questions about safety and security-related policies and their work environment.
Fifty-eight of the interns will be working onsite, while seventeen will be working remotely.
“For interns who are onsite, mentors or associate mentors will be onsite to work with them each day to ensure they are working safely,” added Nakeiah Harrell, Internship Program Manager for WD&E. All interns are also required to follow Lab COVID policies.
A Win-Win for the Lab and Interns
The interns are excited about the opportunities that they will experience this summer.
Stephen Eberly, a U.S. Army veteran, is now an undergraduate at St. Mary’s College majoring in math and physics. The Veterans Affairs Chapter 31 program is funding his education through graduate school. This summer, he will be working in the Nuclear Science Division on low-radioactive background screening of detector materials for next-generation neutrino experiments. He said, “I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves on cutting edge science during this internship. And on the practical side, it will be great preparation for graduate school.”
“Offering internships is a great opportunity to increase diversity in nuclear physics,” said Bjoern Lehnert, a researcher in the Nuclear Science Division and one of Stephen’s mentors. “You find people like Stephen who have unique life experiences that they can bring to their work,” he said.
Alan Poon, Deputy Division Director & Senior Physicist in the Nuclear Science Division (NSD) and another of Stephen’s mentors, noted that WD&E programs enriched interns’ experiences. This year, NSD received DOE funding for a local traineeship program called GREAT-NS, funded by a precursor to the DOE RENEW initiative.
“We partnered with WD&E on the proposal for GREAT-NS to add a broader framework that makes the interns’ experience fuller and richer. In addition to engaging in hands-on science, the interns get to learn about science writing and presentations, and will participate in a poster session at the end of the term,” said Alan. “I encourage other PIs to also work with WD&E on their proposals for workforce development programs.”
Look for more information in Elements about the 2022 Summer Poster Session, which is open to the Lab community. Visit WD&E’s website for more information about mentoring and keep up-to-date with WD&E’s news and events on its new LinkedIn page,