Director's Corner

Release Date: April 03, 2017

NETL’s STEM Educational Outreach Work Encourages Today’s Students to Become Tomorrow’s Scientists


NETL promotes STEM education by providing education resources for teachers, bringing students to the lab to see STEM professionals in action, and offering internships to qualified college students. We take those actions because we firmly believe in the importance of creating a pipeline of scientific leaders who, through their hard work in the laboratory and in the field, will continue to make scientific breakthroughs that benefit the nation and pave the way for even more contributions by the people who follow in their footsteps.

Our NETL Internship opportunities give new college graduates with emerging talents the chance to develop the skills and practical experience that will help guide their career paths. Hands-on experience in laboratory environments offers a real-world understanding of how research and technology development is conducted, as well as an opportunity to experience mentorship under established scientists and engineers.

Our primary internship programs are the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) and the Oak Ridge Institute for Education and Science (ORISE) programs.  The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship program is a summer internship that provides minority and female students pursuing degrees in STEM the opportunity to spend a summer working under the mentorship of researchers at NETL.  ORISE internships provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, graduate and postdoctoral researchers, and faculty researchers to participate in energy research at NETL.

The Department of Energy (DOE) created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. Approximately 240,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl throughout its 24-year history, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions. In 1991, 18 regional high school tournaments took place; in regional events across the United States as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

NETL has been hosting regional qualifying competitions since the beginning of the program, facilitating regional events including the West Virginia Regional Science Bowl (WVSB) and the Southwestern Pennsylvanian Regional Science Bowl (SWPA). Both regional events include a competition for high school students and middle school students from their respective regions. Winning teams in each region participate in a national competition each spring.

These STEM education, outreach, and engagement efforts are ingrained in our organization. Contributing to the education of tomorrow’s scientists is critical to our Laboratory and our nation and when we succeed, the nation benefits from clean, reliable energy. It only takes one strong impression to set a student on the rewarding path of a STEM career.

As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.