On August 13, 2021, the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity used its Micro Accelerator webinar series to feature the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The series’ purpose is to promote equity in education for graduate and undergraduate minority students and show them there are opportunities at their schools, especially in STEM. During this event, MIT speakers focused on what they have for graduate education as most of the interns within the program are already undergraduate students. They addressed the virtual audience detailing various divisions within MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Department.
The first speaker was Noelle Wakefield of the MIT Office of Graduate Education who described graduate school and how it mainly revolves around lots of research and explained what you should do to prepare for graduate education. Her examples included “Identify the skills and education you need to launch your career. Know the grad school requirements and start planning early. Seek relevant research experience.” Furthermore, she said, MIT has a summer research program that focuses on three pillars: Process, Results, and Relationships. And that networking is vital. She explained that networking can help build strong relationships. Depending on how you network, someone’s circle of influence may come to include faculty, friends, communities on campus, and graduate student mentors.
The second speaker was Professor Paola Cappellaro of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department who explained more deeply the background of that department. She described its mission, faculty, programs and more. For example, she explained how “Nuclear science and engineering is concerned with nuclear reactions and radiation, their applications, and their consequences.” This was interesting to understand because someone interested in this department can better understand what they do or what it is about.
Heather Barry spoke next. Barry, also a part of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, described activities and programs conducted within this department. An example is the Nuclear Winter School which promotes the number of underrepresented minority and women students engaging in research in nuclear science and engineering.
As a student, one of my biggest takeaways was the overall graduate program. Hearing about graduate education as an undergraduate student helps me understand more about what to expect if I were to advance to earn a graduate school degree. I didn’t know that graduate school was mainly about a lot of research – learning that is helpful. Another takeaway was discovering all about the programs and activities that you can do as an undergraduate to explore MIT, more specifically the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. It was interesting learning about these activities and opportunities as something I might want to delve into.
Overall, I conclude that educational opportunities for a minority student are open and inclusive at MIT. Attending this webinar really opened my eyes to understand that MIT is working hard to make sure that we, as minority students, are being included in everything. Whether it is an overall education or specifically in STEM, it is nice to understand that schools like MIT are willing to make sure that their students, especially minorities, are included in everything a campus has to offer.