Eryal Reinhart, a summer intern at Sandia National Laboratories, is considering switching her major from engineering to materials science. (Photo courtesy of Eryal Reinhart)

Program in fusion energy attracted interns’ eyes

December 21, 2021 8:00 am Published by

A bold plan paid off this past summer when Sandia National Laboratories staff members LaRico Treadwell and Khalid Hattar combined their passions for increasing inclusion of people of color with developing materials to eventually derive energy from nuclear fusion.

Standing to benefit from the pilot project were three undergraduate interns from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, one of America’s historically black colleges and universities. They interned at Sandia to tackle difficult problems in fusion energy science and raised their career goals to the next level.

Raised vistas for interns

“This internship has opened my eyes to so many things in science that I did not know,” said Bria Cook, a senior chemistry major at NCAT. “It made me realize that I want to go to graduate school to get my Ph.D., which was never in my plans after my undergraduate degree.”

Lester Coney, a sophomore in computer science at NCAT, is already using information he learned during his summer Sandia internship at school this fall, working with Linux clusters and Python scripting, and running high-performance environment computing.

Eryal Reinhart has decided to change her major from aerospace engineering to materials science, retaining her ambition to work in the aerospace industry using her materials science degree.

Sandia senior manager Dawn Flicker, who facilitated the pilot project, said that “the Sandia experience exposed these students to the excitement of helping deliver fusion energy, which could substantially power modern society while mitigating climate change. We felt this early-college experience could help influence their career choices and even whether to attend graduate school.”

Read the complete news release.

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