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Mentors for Environmental Scholars (MES) Program

The MES Program is a 10-week paid summer internship that provides exposure to laboratory research in environmental Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to underrepresented college students. The MES Program actively recruits qualified undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCIs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs0, and other Minority Serving Institutions MSIs) for extensive training that will pilot them toward gainful employment in various research and management positions within the DOE. These sites include Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken; Savannah State University (SSU), Savannah, Georgia; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Office of Legacy Management, Grand Junction, Colorado; and the Hanford Site, Richland, Washington.

Orientation and Boot Camp

The Department supports an MES collaborative effort between DOE and Pre-College University (PCU) to increase awareness and participation in the environmental science discipline.

MES Orientation Boot Camp hosted internship recipients at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, as a prelude to their 10-week, paid internship. From May 29 through June 2, 17 scholars from MSIs across the country engaged in intensive workshops, presentations, and hands-on activities to prepare them for their summer experience at DOE laboratories. The goal of the Orientation Boot Camp is to provide interns with an opportunity to meet each other prior to going out to the labs, to introduce students to DOE and its labs, and to provide them with professional development training. The outcome of the event was the presentation of a personal strategic plan to facilitate a successful entry of each intern at their prospective labs.

STEM and Career Development

DOE supports technical and career guidance in STEM education. Initiatives during 2017 and 2018 include: 

  • Supporting technical and career enhancement for the District of Columbia Schools’ STEM programs.
  • Establishing a modern environmental analytical laboratory with the latest equipment available for students’ hands-on laboratory exercises and research. The modern equipment enhances the environmental sciences curriculum and has profound effects on student accomplishments. The expansion of the environmental studies program will allow a technically qualified applicant pool to assist SRS in the future as it faces challenging employee attrition impacting the aging workforce.
  • Supporting STEM efforts at the H.D. Woodson STEM High School. Serving and continuing to provide technical and career enhancement guidance and resources to help improve the student’s learning and academic growth experience.
  • Committing to extending enriching work and learning experiences to a diverse student community across the nation and Puerto Rico through its participation in internships. During 2018, DOE programs hosted more than 32 interns and fellows as a means of furthering their mission, addressing short-term workforce needs, and developing future contributors to the Department. DOE’s participation with student internship programs, including the Student Volunteer Internship Program (SVIP), the Minority Educational Institution Student Partnership Program (MEISPP), and the Pathways Summer Internship Program trace back more than a decade. The programs attract diverse and talented individuals and help develop a workforce that can assist DOE in meeting current and future mission needs. Interns and fellows bring fresh ideas into the organization, helping offices meet their program objectives, and advancing the DOE mission. In addition, DOE consistently demonstrates that the intern and fellow experience greatly improves participants’ academic and career advancement from being accepted into more competitive opportunities to employment in the federal government and the private sector.

Internship and fellowship opportunities include:

  • Minority Educational Institution Student Partnership Program (MEISPP)
  • DOE Student Volunteer Internship Program (SVIP)
  • Multiple military and veteran career opportunities
  • SkillBridge, Washington Center, and Operation War Fighters
  • Federal Energy Management Program’s DOE Scholars Program for Veterans Pathways
  • Columbia River Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society
  • Native American outreach activities at the REACH Museum, which has included both cultural and STEM activities
  • Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization
  • Purchase and maintenance of cutting-edge environmental analytical laboratory equipment for the SSU Environmental Science Program

The state-of-the art equipment provided students the opportunity to conduct projects in studies such as greenhouse, wastewater and laboratory column, river sediment collection, and analysis of inorganic and organic contaminants.  The environmental studies curriculum has been enhanced through the DOE-funded EJ grant and has given over 30 environmental studies students the opportunity to be technically qualified to assist DOE and other federal agencies in the future, as they face challenging employee attrition.

As a major proponent of STEM curricula, DOE is working closely with MSIs across the country to educate and train students on energy-related issues through workshops, initiatives, and internships. These efforts prepare students for future career paths that can help develop their communities in ways that address EJ concerns.

DOE headquarters and DOE sites have been actively recruiting students from MSIs. Interns can work closely with DOE staff and receive hands-on experience collecting environmental data to support communities in solving environmental issues they are facing.

Supporting STEM Education in Tribal Communities

This project is overseen by a DOE staff member and a STGWG tribal member to explore the need to integrate STEM education into formal and informal learning for indigenous students. Other entities represented on the team include Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Arizona Science Center, Battelle, Brockport Research Institute, STEMovations, and the University of North Carolina. Tactical goals for the project are being determined collaboratively as a team. The vision is to create goals and actions useful to all team members.

In December 2018, DOE staff traveled to New Mexico to engage with tribal members to assess their needs regarding the federal STEM Strategic Plan. The targeted outreach included Jemez Pueblo, Pojoaque Pueblo, San Ildefonso Pueblo (informal meeting), and Santa Clara Pueblo (Kha′p′o Community School). Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) hosted Los Alamos Pueblo Project directors, staff, and diverse members of Pueblos, including Cochiti Pueblo and San Ildefonso Pueblo, to learn about the community- based education and senior honors projects at SFIS. DOE staff participated in the STEM Education Leader’s Summit hosted by Santa Ana Pueblo, working to help advise on the federal STEM Strategic Plan and coordination of STEM initiatives in New Mexico.

MUSC Pipeline Program

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Pipeline Program exposes lower-income and minority middle and high school students to STEM disciplines and encourages them to pursue careers in those areas.

Students of the DOE/MUSC Pipeline Program continue to be excited about the activities and educational experiences they are afforded through the Pipeline Program that strives to provide different activities each year. On October 12, 2017, 29 students from Cross Middle and High Schools in South Carolina attended the Charleston STEM career field trip. Students were able to visit different businesses and colleges to find out information on STEM careers. The students received information on STEM careers from colleges, universities, and businesses. Following the trip, students were energized about pursuing careers in the STEM field.

Forty-five students from Cross High School attended a field trip to the South Carolina State Museum. The museum is the perfect field trip destination for students at all grade levels. A visit to the museum provides students a fundamental introduction to South Carolina history, art, natural history, and science. The museum offers a variety of on-site educational programs, guided tours, digital dome planetarium shows, 4D theater films, and a state-of-the-art observatory. These programs, lessons, and shows are designed as an additional resource to meet South Carolina state education standards. This type of exposure during the critical middle school and high school years helps students understand the college- and career-ready standards for South Carolina. Pushing them along a path to see how higher education may benefit them in their futures. The variety of schools available allows them to have a better understanding that any level of education or certification in a career field will be beneficial. Students are encouraged to work hard, and with the exposure, they will have experience to help make decisions that will affect them for a lifetime.

On April 12, 2018, the Guidance Department of St. George Middle School took 45 students and five chaperones to the South Carolina Aquarium for an educational, self-guided tour. Students were able to explore, touch, and feel several species of invertebrates at the touch tank. They also learned about the various types of fish that live right off the coast of Charleston. One of the most amazing experiences for the students was the opportunity to visit the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery Hospital. They asked the staff questions and learned more about the sea turtles’ journey from rescue, to rehabilitation, to release. Twenty-five students toured the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). SPAWAR designs and develops communications and information systems. They employ over 12,000 professionals around the world and close to the United States fleet. SPAWAR is responsible for managing air traffic control contractors in Afghanistan, including the Kabul en-route air traffic control center, the Kabul, Kandahar, and Bagram approach control radar facilities, and respective control towers.

SPAWAR provides systems engineering and technical support for the development and maintenance of C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), business information technology, and space capabilities. These are used in ships, aircraft, and vehicles to connect individual platforms into integrated systems for the purpose of information sharing among Navy, Marine, joint forces, federal agencies, and international allies. The students were from the technology and engineering classes at Woodland High School. Their expressions, discussions, and comments were heard for many days after their return to the campus. This exposure was one of a kind and had students talking about the wonderful experience. The instructors that chaperoned the tour were impressed with the duties and responsibilities of this company and they were able to incorporate the experience into their lessons.

During a college tour at South Carolina State University in 2018, one student from Woodlands High School was given a full academic scholarship in engineering. The Pipeline Program provides the student population that we serve with the opportunity to see college campuses and interact with other students before school begins. This is one of the most important aspects of this program. Cross Middle and High Schools have participated in the program since its inception. The Cross community epitomizes the student population for which the Pipeline Program was designed. Many students’ careers have been influenced by the program. Student progress will be tracked through the next few years.

Pipeline fieldtrips included: Charleston STEM Career Tour; South Carolina State Museum; Riverbanks Zoo & Garden; a higher learning tour to 10 private, public, HBCUs, technical, and two-year institutions in South Carolina over three years of their high school career; South Carolina Aquarium; Lander University; South Carolina State University; Claflin University; and the SPAWAR.

In 2018, Laing Middle School of Science and Technology, St. George Middle School, and Woodland High School students were included. The program fosters technological literacy, academic achievement, innovation, collaboration, and creative problem-solving for students.

Educate Motivate Innovate (EMI) – IWG EJ

The EMI Climate Justice Initiative strives to engage the next generation of climate justice leaders and expand partnerships with MSIs by offering an opportunity for climate justice leaders to present their work at the EMI Workshop during the NEJC. Presentations were made at both the 2017 and 2018 NEJC.

This national initiative showcases student projects that address the relationship between climate change and its impacts on minority, American Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives, and vulnerable and underserved communities.