The Texas A&M University System National Laboratories Office (NLO) has played an important role in providing opportunities to students to learn about and pursue research and future careers at the Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, plants and sites, despite the challenges of in-person experiences due to COVID. Three separate events were held in October 2020 in which the NLO facilitated student interactions with the DOE laboratories.
The first event was held as part of the larger 2020 LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Expo, with time dedicated to the national laboratories on October 2. This event included a variety of learning activities where undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff of all disciplines learned how to engage with undergraduate research at Texas A&M. It also provided an opportunity for undergraduates to present their research and expose them to research communities and opportunities that are unique to Texas A&M.
For this event, the NLO organized and hosted a panel discussion during the Expo in which several DOE labs participated. Participating panelists included representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
One student claimed that the NLO hosted panel was the most helpful session at the event stating, “I didn’t know anything about the labs before, but I do now, and they do a lot more different kinds of things than I thought.”
Another student shared, “It helped me open up to what a research lab actually does and the opportunities it can give to students.”
During the panel, students were exposed to possible career tracks and disciplines, as well as internship opportunities.
The second event was Research Labs Day/Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) Day, which took place Oct. 7. This event combined two annual in-person events that provided graduate and post-doctorate STEM students an opportunity to explore and pursue careers at a variety of national and private labs. The NSE is a subset of DOE and the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) consisting of the labs, plants and sites that are involved in the design, production and testing of nuclear weapons.
The day included several panel presentations from research lab representatives and a career fair to provide information and networking opportunities for participants. The NLO organized two panel presentations that included representatives from 12 of the 17 DOE facilities.
Nan Sauer of Los Alamos National Laboratory stated, “LANL appreciates the opportunity to interact with so many talented students in several virtual events. LANL has found that the culture of public service engendered in the students at the A&M System is an excellent fit for LANL’s national security mission. We greatly value our partnership with the A&M System and recruiting students is a crucial component of that partnership.”
To complete the October recruiting efforts, the Office of Veteran Services and the NLO teamed up with the NSE to organize and co-host a Virtual Career Fair for all veterans in the Texas A&M University System on Oct. 30. The NSE Career Fair began with a panel session featuring veteran representatives from several NSE labs, plants and sites and concluded with opportunities for representatives and students to meet one-on-one with all of these potential employers.
Panelists, all of whom are veterans themselves, represented Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pantex Plant, Y-12 National Security Complex, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Nevada National Security Site and Savannah River Site. In addition to learning about the array of educational disciplines that the laboratories are interested in, this select group of students had the opportunity to learn first-hand from other veterans how they successfully transitioned back into a civilian career path.
Rocio Bolivar from the NNSA stated, “The NSE is critical in ensuring the safety and security of the Nation. The largest investment is continuing a world-class workforce for decades to come. The NSE continues to hire employees from scientists and engineers to business professionals and union trades. We continue to grow our university partnerships, including with our Texas A&M partners. We’re looking for the best and brightest students from the Texas A&M system to join our team.”
The Energy Department’s 17 National Labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time, from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe, and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. They address large scale, complex research and development challenges with a multidisciplinary approach that places an emphasis on translating basic science to innovation.
The NLO’s primary mission is to support the national laboratories in the execution of their missions as they relate to national security and service. The NLO provides assistance for students and researchers in the Texas A&M system to collaborate with the national labs. By supporting student-focused events, the NLO is fostering a robust pipeline through which A&M System students can become future employees at the national labs. For additional information on student internship and employment opportunities- https://nationallabsoffice.tamus.edu/for-students/
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