Interns Get Peek into Department of Energy Careers

Thursday, July 16, 2015

For nearly nine weeks, five SC State University students have been immersed in research activities that are sure to help propel them to their dream career. The students are conducting research with a focus on environmental management and cleanup, as part of a summer internship funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) - Environmental Management's (EM) Office.

Nuclear engineering majors, Bailen Jeanjacques, Sihan Chang, Victoria Parker and Terkessia Hart, and biology major, Brittany Haynes, applied for and were selected from SC State to participate in the internship.

The experience gives students the opportunity to work directly with national laboratory scientists and technical staff on important environmental management projects. To top it off, interns work at Department of Energy National laboratories or universities. SC State students are currently assigned at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) in Aiken, S.C. or the University of South Carolina in Columbia S.C.

"It feels great to have this opportunity," said Jeanjacques. "I know that working at a national laboratory will eventually help me gain employment after graduation. Plus, I get to watch researchers who are well respected in the nuclear industry and see the paths they took to get to where they are now." Jeanjacques, who is stationed at the SRNL, is learning ways the industry regulates the concentration of nuclear particles that are released from nuclear reactors and enter the environment.

The internship program exposes undergraduate and graduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors from minority serving institutions to opportunities that allow them to perform applied research in environmental management-related areas. Interns will work on projects such as environmental remediation, treatment processes for radioactive tank waste and deactivation and decommissioning of DOE facilities.

"DOE's Office of Environmental Management needs the best and brightest SC State students for its future technical workforce. We want students to learn about the really interesting, challenging environmental problems environmental management needs to address. We want them to gain hands-on scientific research experience and to meet new mentors. As they continue their education and embark on their careers, we hope they will join EM and use their skills and creativity to help us complete our mission successfully," said Karen Skubal, DOE-EM Federal program manager for the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program.

The internship was made available by way of partnership between SC State's Office of Sponsored Program (OSP) and the Department of Energy. OSP staff worked with staff from the College of Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology to identify qualified students. The office supports such programs because it knows that internships and other career experiences help enhance student learning and prepare them for a successful career."

"We know that mentoring and hands-on experiences are corroborated methods of impacting students," said Elbert Malone, associate provost for Sponsored Programs and Research. "Most assuredly, however, connecting our students to employers helps build a pipeline of potential employment opportunities and other experiences that will benefit the university.

The Emergency Management agency completes the safe cleanup of DOE sites impacted by the environmental legacy of five decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

Bailen Jeanjacques is a senior nuclear engineering major with a 3.4 GPA. The San Antonio, Texas native volunteers at Vanard Mendinghall Jr. Academy in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he tutors in physical education, mathematics and science. Jeanjacques plans to earn a doctorate in health physics, with hopes of managing a nuclear power plant.
Sihan Chang, a rising junior nuclear engineering major with a 3.4 GPA, calls Lexington, South Carolina home. He is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, American Nuclear Society and Golden Key International Honor Society. After graduate school, he would love to oversee the operations of a nuclear power plant.