Officials from DOE gathered with FIU leaders at the 12th-annual induction ceremony for the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students who join 20 current fellows in FIU’s Science & Technology Workforce Development 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.
"It's very rewarding to see the research being conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and students under a cooperative agreement between EM and FIU,” said Kurt Gerdes, director of EM’s Office of Subsurface Closure. “They are collaborating to develop state-of-the-art technologies to support EM's most critical technical challenges. The next logical step is for the Department to have these students be part of the next generation of scientists to advance EM's mission.”
Gerdes, a keynote speaker at the ceremony, cited Hansell Gonzales as a success story of the EM-FIU partnership. Gonzales, who was selected as a fellow in 2014, begins work as a senior scientist at EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) next month.
The fellows program results in a 95-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; 13 hired by other government agencies; and 63 hired by the STEM industry.
Since its inception in 2007, the fellows program has inducted 152 students who are mentored in research, development, and deployment of new cleanup technologies. They also 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.
“The support that EM provides FIU is crucial for the development and training of the future workforce of scientists and engineers that will continue the EM mission into the future,” said DOE Fellows Director Dr. Leo Lagos, the DOE-FIU Cooperative Agreement’s principal investigator.
Ceremony participants and guests also heard research presentations by Lagos and fellows Michael DiBono, Ximena Lugo, and Juan Morales, and toured FIU’s Applied Research Center (ARC) laboratories focused on soil and groundwater, robotics and sensors, and other areas.
Also at the induction ceremony, fellows Anibal Morales, Tristan Simoes-Ponce, Ripley Raubenolt, and Silvina Di Pietro received awards for their research after participating in the DOE Fellows Poster Exhibition and Competition.
William Tan, an ARC research scientist, also was honored as the 2018 Mentor of the Year. Katherine Delarosa 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.