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NETL Co-Hosts Student Mentoring Program to Encourage STEM Careers

NETL co-hosted a special event April 18 to help mitigate participation disparities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by connecting enthusiastic professionals with interested students and their educators.

NETL, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and Oregon State University (OSU) College of Science hosted the Mid-Willamette STEM Mentoring Café at OSU’s Memorial Union in Corvallis, Ore. Middle and high school students broke into small groups for speed mentoring sessions, during which they had the opportunity to chat with STEM role models, see samples of their work, and ask questions. Educators received take-home materials to continue STEM engagement with their students. Participating professionals were encouraged to offer ongoing mentoring to students and educators in their community.

“This is a special opportunity for students to develop meaningful, lasting relationships that inspire them to pursue careers in STEM. For educators, it’s a great way to enhance their work to engage students in the classroom, at no additional cost to them or their schools,” said Circe Verba, Ph.D., Research Geologist at NETL and organizer for the event. “And for scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals, it’s a unique way to give back to the community by sharing their valuable expertise.”

The STEM Mentoring Café program is part of DOE’s ongoing commitment to fostering the next generation of scientists, engineers and other professionals in high-technology careers. Since 2014, hundreds of students across the country have participated. The Mid-Willamette event was the first STEM Mentoring Café of 2018.

Educational outreach is an important part of NETL’s mission to enhance the nation’s energy foundation for future generations. Members of the Lab’s Education Outreach team organize the West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Science Bowls, visit classrooms, host workshops and participate in special events year-round to complement learning in NETL’s local communities.

NETL also supports DOE’s STEM Rising program, launched in 2017. The initiative comprises a wide variety of activities and events held throughout DOE’s National Laboratory system for students and educators of all ages, designed to grow the pipeline of future energy workers.