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DOE and Florida International University (FIU) officials recently introduced FIU science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students as the new DOE Fellows Class of 2020 in a virtual ceremony.
DOE and Florida International University (FIU) officials recently introduced FIU science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students as the new DOE Fellows Class of 2020 in a virtual ceremony.

MIAMIDOE and Florida International University (FIU) officials recently introduced the EM Fellows Class of 2020 — 15 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students inducted into a program intended to shape future candidates for the cleanup workforce.

The FIU students join current fellows in the university’s Science & Technology Workforce Development Program, also known as the DOE Fellows program. An additional FIU STEM student was inducted as a DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM) Fellow.

Undergraduate and graduate minority STEM students at FIU are usually welcomed into the program annually in a ceremony hosted at FIU’s Modesto Maidique campus. This year, due to health and safety concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually.

The Fellows program strives to attract, train, and retain the next-generation workforce in nuclear, engineering, science, and construction fields to assist in addressing EM's many long-term scientific and basic research needs, and complex cleanup challenges.

Students in the Fellows program work with DOE scientists and researchers at FIU’s Applied Research Center (ARC) — which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year — to learn about EM and LM technical areas of need.

In an address during the ceremony, EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean reflected on her experience in a similar mentorship program, which helped steer her on the path to a successful federal government career.

Nelson-Jean stressed the importance of such programs to the environmental missions of EM and LM. She commended the DOE Fellows program’s success stories, highlighting former DOE Fellows hired by DOE and its national laboratories, including EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory.

Gisselle Gutierrez-Zuniga, who was inducted into the program last year as an undergraduate student, delivered a message to the new Fellows highlighting her personal experience, which she found fulfilling academically and professionally. Also participating was LM Director Carmelo Melendez, who delivered a keynote address to the new DOE Fellows.

Since its inception in 2007, the Fellows program has inducted 179 STEM students mentored in research, development, and deployment of new cleanup technologies. The Fellows program has resulted in a 95% hiring rate for students who complete the program, including three Fellows hired by DOE, nine by DOE contractors or national laboratories, 19 hired by other government agencies, and 74 hired by the STEM industry.

“FIU continues to train and mentor future leaders,” said DOE Fellows Director Dr. Leonel 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.”

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