The DOE Scholars Program introduces students or recent college graduates to DOE's mission and operations. As a participant in the DOE Scholars Program, you will earn a competitive edge by familiarizing yourself with DOE functions while showcasing your education, talent and skills.
Seeking to gain some professional development in a nuclear science field, Gage Richert thought the DOE Scholars Program would be a natural step toward his career goals. He joined the Office of Innovative Nuclear Research, which coordinates research investments and award processes for the Nuclear Engineering Enabling Technologies (NEET), Nuclear Engineering University Programs (NEUP) and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards. “My assignment has been to help with closing out the review process for this fiscal year’s awards and to help the process for next year’s solicitations and research calls,” Gage explained. “DOE Scholars is giving me the extremely valuable opportunity to interact with a multitude of ‘who’s who’ in nuclear industry and research, something that is quite rare to experience.” In addition to finishing work around the fiscal year’s awards, he also expanded a catalog system for fuel cycle comparisons on 40 groups identified by DOE and Sandia National Laboratory as a beta tester. Gage believes the exposure to the technical aspects of the nuclear industry that he gained will prove to be beneficial to both completing his undergraduate degree in nuclear engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and a future career in reactor technologies.
For Sharon Spradling, a U.S. Air Force veteran, participation in the DOE Scholars program led to the Department of Transportation (DOT) where she aided in implementation of clean energy and sustainability strategies. Spradling was a part of DOE’s Federal Energy Management pilot program designed to help veterans hone their workforce skills and experience. While at DOT, Spradling, a doctoral student in geoinformation science at George Mason University, participated in three diverse projects, each of which addressed a unique aspect of energy policy implementation. In her first DOT project, Spradling conducted a detailed review of the agency’s analysis on greenhouse gas emissions from DOT employee commuting and alternative work schedules. Next, she assessed and recommended improvements on how DOT collects, validates, and consolidates water data from the department’s more than 1,000 federal facilities. Finally, she participated in developing a comprehensive energy management strategy for these same buildings that would help DOT meet the new energy conservation requirements outlined in the President’s December 2013 energy memorandum. “The DOE Scholars program allows you to build on the experience you already have, learn about the federal government’s energy programs, and contribute to another agency’s energy programs. It has been a great experience,” she said. Upon completion of her degree, Spradling sees herself in a faculty position, continuing to teach energy and environmental sustainability classes at a university.
Alexis Vrotsos can say with confidence that she grew more during her 10 weeks with the DOE Scholars Program than any time she spent in a traditional classroom. Participating with the Environmental Management branch of the Office of Management Systems and Analysis, she collaborated with senior staff to conduct interviews aimed at collecting and analyzing the target metric data necessary to draft the FY2013 Environmental Management Senior Performance Agreement document. “I am grateful that I had the opportunity to join a seasoned group that was open and receptive to the ideas of a student, and will be mindful to follow suit as my career evolves,” she said. Currently representing the DOE as an Energy Ambassador on her campus at Tulane University and throughout the southern U.S., Alexis is working toward earning master’s degrees in both business administration and energy management.
When Josef Miler heard from a graduate school friend at Stanford University there was a way for him to conduct research for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) through the DOE Scholars Program, he was all in. His team at ARPA-E is trying to develop novel high-energy magnets at scales relevant for mass production of wind turbines and electric motor vehicles. Through his participation, Josef has learned a great deal, some of which has surprised him. “I had no idea just how clean the inside of a hard disk drive is,” he said. “It’s arguably the cleanest environment known to man, second only to space.” In addition to new discoveries, he has been able to research alongside some of the nation’s strongest technical experts and with his peers. “Working with the other ORISE scholars at ARPA-E was an invaluable experience for me,” he said. “Each of them had an incredible wealth of experience to share, as well as a passion for advancing energy technology. It has been truly exceptional and incredibly rewarding.”
Graduate student Ryan Tuttle was no stranger to the DOE Scholars Program – he participated once before in a different division – but that did not stop him from gaining another valuable experience with DOE. He served his most recent appointment in the Office of Environmental Compliance where he focused on determining best practices through compiling different regulatory requirements and tracking the methods used to close issues with these requirements. “There is always another element to learn,” he said. “I have a better understanding of how the government functions internally from this experience; the life of a civil servant is very different than I expected.” Once he completes his master’s degree in public policy at Oregon State University, Ryan hopes to work his way into the renewable energy and energy efficiency side of the federal government with DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Bonneville Power Administration.
Seeking a competitive advantage in the communications and database management field, Patrick Smith II applied to the DOE Scholars Program. He was accepted and placed in the Records Management division of DOE’s Office of Environmental Management where his project focused on reviewing and improving the records database and the supporting systems used to digitize records. “I did not realize what an excellent opportunity I was being given with this internship,” he said. “Not only was I able to observe the interworkings, difficulties and successes of several groups resolving complex issues, but I was actually able to be heavily involved with a large portion of both the assessment and the solution.” Patrick hopes to achieve his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University and establish himself in a full-time position with the federal workforce.