Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder | National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Computational Science Technician

Alternate Title(s)Computer Engineer Trainee; Computer Science Technician; Mathematician Trainee
Education & Training Level DescriptionBachelor’s degree In Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Computational Biology, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or Engineering.
Experience0–3 years
Job Skills
  • Broad knowledge of the theoretical foundations of computer science, including computer system architecture, system software organization, and simulation and programming
  • Experience with data analysis, experimental design, data integration, and algorithm development
  • Ability to analyze, interpret, and apply computer science procedures in a variety of situations and recommend effective solutions
  • Ability to effectively communicate technical issues verbally and in writing
  • Broad knowledge of relevant mathematical and statistical sciences.
Job ProfileThe logistics and planning of a large-scale, domestic-based bioenergy production system will require skilled individuals who are able to apply techniques from computer science, informatics, data management, modeling, visualization, applied mathematics, and statistics to explore solutions to complex industry-relevant problems, that would otherwise prove challenging through traditional experimentation alone. From sustainable feedstock development and logistics to improving biomass to biofuel conversion efficiency, computational scientists play an important role in the bioenergy sector.
 
Modeling, simulation, and visualization are useful tools that compliment experimentation and help save time and money. For example, computational-based tools can help design high-performance biomass deconstruction enzymes, investigate the properties of plant cell walls to improve enzyme binding affinity, enhance microbial metabolic pathways for the conversion of sugars to fuels and high-value products, predict catalyst performance under realistic reaction conditions, and optimize the performance of reactors used in biomass conversion. They can also provide the data needed to make important management decisions. Sustainability analysis tools like WATER (Water Assessment for Transportation Energy Resources) and LEAF (Landscape Environmental Assessment Framework) help scientists, landowners, and technology developers enhance the environmental benefits of bioenergy.
 
At the entry level, computational science technicians work under the direction of senior technical staff to design, implement, test, and evaluate mathematical, statistical, and computer-simulated models and applications. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a bachelor's degree with 30 semester hours in a combination of mathematics, statistics, and computer science is preferred. Equivalent experience or training may substitute for the degree. Employers also value relevant experience gained through undergraduate capstone research projects, part-time employment, internships, or volunteer work. A good foundational understanding of the physical and biological sciences is also recommended.