The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) held its annual kickoff event for the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) program today in Washington, D.C., welcoming 60 participants to the 2018 program.
Since its start in 1995, the MLEF program has hosted more than 650 students who are interested in gaining experience in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The program provides undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students with fellowship opportunities to gain hands-on research experience with FE scientists, engineers, and program officials. Throughout the 10-week fellowship, selected students work closely with their mentors on focused research projects that contribute to the mission of FE. By providing students with these experiences, the program strives to strengthen and diversify the next generation of STEM professionals.
At this year’s kickoff event, Department of Energy (DOE) Chief of Staff, Brian McCormack, welcomed participants and provided an overview of DOE. Mr. McCormack spoke about the importance of oil, coal, and natural gas in the nation’s power generation, as well as DOE’s efforts to ensure the nation’s energy security, while also protecting the environment.
Kimberly Rasar, FE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations, highlighted the work of FE, while research geologist Dr. Circe Verba provided an overview of FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Alison Leland, wife of the program’s namesake, the late Congressman Mickey Leland, gave the keynote address. Ms. Leland is director of Honors Pre-Law and Public Service in the Honors College of the University of Houston.
A leadership panel followed in the afternoon, giving students the opportunity to engage with representatives from DOE, academia, and industry. This year’s panelists included Dr. Linda Kimberling, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of NETL; Ms. Leland; Mr. Reggie Spiller, MLEF co-founder; Mr. Jeffrey Vargas, President of Generationology, LLC; and Dr. Verba of NETL.
This year, the MLEF program has 60 students participating—representing 47 colleges and 23 states and the District of Columbia. Students will complete their internships at DOE headquarters, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s Program Management Office and Bryan Mound site, as well as several of DOE’s national laboratories—including FE’s NETL sites in Albany, OR, Pittsburgh, PA, and Morgantown, WV. Students will conclude their fellowships by presenting their research findings at a “Technical Forum” held August 6–9 in Pittsburgh.