MIAMI – A program that helps shape future candidates for EM’s workforce inducted 12 Florida International University (FIU) science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students as the DOE Fellows Class of 2019 last week.
Under a new initiative this year, two other FIU STEM students were installed as DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM) Fellows. They will learn about both EM and LM technical areas.
Officials from DOE gathered with FIU leaders at the 13th annual induction ceremony for the students who join 25 current fellows in FIU’s Science & Technology Workforce Development Program, also known as the DOE Fellows program.
EM works to attract, train, and retain the next-generation cleanup workforce in fields such as nuclear, engineering, science, and construction. The ability to address EM's many long-term scientific and basic research needs, and ultimately tackle complex cleanup challenges, is rooted in partnerships EM has forged with FIU and other colleges and universities.
"I was extremely impressed by the caliber of the DOE Fellow students,” said Leonard Spearman, EM senior advisor. “FIU is developing outstanding professionals with firsthand knowledge of DOE EM’s environmental mission.”
Spearman, a keynote speaker at the ceremony, discussed success stories from the EM-FIU partnership, notably DOE Fellows who now work at DOE and its national laboratories, including Rosa Elmetti-Ramirez, and Edgard Espinosa with EM, and Hansell Gonzalez-Raymat with Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL).
The Fellows program results in a 98-percent hiring rate for students who complete the program, including three Fellows hired by DOE, eight hired by DOE contractors or national laboratories such as SRNL and Pacific Northwest and Argonne national laboratories; 19 hired by other government agencies; and 70 hired by the STEM industry.
Since its inception in 2007, the Fellows program has inducted 164 students. Fellows are mentored in research, development, and deployment of new cleanup technologies. They participate in 10-week summer internships at facilities across the DOE complex and present their research at the Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix and other conferences around the world.
“FIU continues to train and mentor future leaders,” said DOE Fellows Director Dr. Leo Lagos, the DOE-FIU Cooperative Agreement’s principal investigator. “This program provides the opportunity for many first-generation students to complete their degrees at FIU, obtain hands-on research and work experience, and participate in internships across the DOE complex.”
Ceremony participants and guests also heard research presentations by Lagos and Fellows Silvina Di Pietro, Tristan Simoes-Ponce, and Roger Boza, and toured FIU’s Applied Research Center (ARC) laboratories focused on deactivation and decommissioning and robotics, and other areas.
Also at the ceremony, undergraduate Fellows Katherine Delarosa, Anilegna Nunez Abreu, Christopher Excellent, and graduate Fellows Michael Thompson, Boza, and Simoes-Ponce received awards for their research after participating in the DOE Fellows Poster Exhibition and Competition.
Yelena Katsenvich, an ARC research scientist, was honored as the 2019 Mentor of the Year. Simoes-Ponce of the 2017 class won the DOE Fellow of the Year Award.
ARC supports EM’s mission of accelerated risk reduction and cleanup. The center’s work includes developing robotic platforms and tools to better detect potential leaks in waste tanks underground at the Hanford Site in Washington state, developing hydrological models to predict the fate and transport of contaminants at Savannah River Site, and developing digital elevation maps for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.