Sixteen Students Awarded Internships Through Department of Energy Projects
FABIOLA TERRAZAS DUARTE | May 10, 2019
Sixteen students from the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso will participate in research summer internships at various National Laboratories.
The internships are part of DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP). This is a DOE NNSA project geared toward increasing the pipeline of graduates ready to pursue a career in energy relevant fields.
A quartet of UTEP faculty members were instrumental in facilitating these opportunities for engineering students. They include Lourdes Echegoyen, Ph.D., director of UTEP’s Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI), and associate professors of Mechanical Engineering — Yirong Lin, Ph.D.; Norman Love, Ph.D.; and Calvin Stewart, Ph.D.
The MSIPP programs at UTEP include partnerships between University of Turabo in Puerto Rico, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, Miami-Dade College, the University of New Mexico, Sandia, NETL, Florida International University, Tennessee State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Kansas City National Security Campus and UTEP. These programs started in 2016 with six students participating in national laboratories internships and have been growing ever since. Now, the programs will support 16 students and faculty members are expecting these opportunities to expand further.
These programs started in 2016 with six students participating in national laboratories internships and have been growing ever since. Now, the programs will support sixteen students and faculty members who are expecting these opportunities to expand further.
“We have an amazing success, the majority of the students that have gone have already received job offers at a national lab, and in some cases they pay for their graduate education and they have a guaranteed job when they finish. Others have gone straight to work with the national labs,” Echegoyen said.
Students are encouraged to apply by faculty members, but applications are open to any undergraduate or graduate student in Science and Engineering who wants to participate and meets the requirements.
“It’s very unusual to have such a large number of students going to do an internship from one group,” Love said. “It will be a great opportunity for these students to participate in and interact with industry professionals, for several of them it is their first internship.”
As a result, students come back from their internships with more experience and knowledge of what it’s like to work in national laboratories.
“I know for sure it’s going to be completely different. I’m excited to see what that experience is going to be like and how their thought process is different than the thought process from the people in industry,” said Alejandra Castellano, graduate research assistant at Mechanical Engineering.
Students also believe that without the help of their mentors and professors they wouldn’t have been able to have this opportunity.
“It’s great for their career, so I’m very happy for them and I think it’s part of the education experience, internships are very important,” said Lin. “It’s kind of the bridge between school and career, so that’s very great for them.”
Once the internship is over, students are hoping to learn new things that they can apply to their college careers.
“My goal is to work for a national lab as a full time employee,” said Hilda Fontes, research assistant at Mechanical Engineering. “When you apply you feel like, it’s really hard to get in, I’m not going to get it, but I didn’t want to regret not trying.”
UTEP professors believe there is a reason why their students are being selected and succeeding in these internships.
“UTEP students come from a diverse education and culture background, which enables them to think different from their peers,” Stewart said. “This diversity breeds innovation. This is particularly needed in the NNSA workforce, which has a high average age of employee and less diversity.”
The following students were offered internships and fellowships:
DOE NNSA Fellowship
DOE NNSA Internship
DOE Mickey Leeland Fellowship
DOE NETL Internship
Jesus Manuel Melendez
Sandia National Laboratories