An internship is often a necessary step for a student to gain work experience and better understand the work environment they hope to enter after graduation.
The Air Force Research Laboratory Scholars Program aspires to accomplish more, offering a stipend-paid internship open to undergraduate, graduate, and upper-level high school students who hope to pursue a degree in STEM.
“For many students, an internship is an opportunity to gain valuable work experience,” said technology outreach branch program manager Matthew Fetrow in a news release. “What makes our internships different is that at AFRL these young people are actually doing hands-on, amazing research. We’ve structured the program so that they are contributing to our mission.”
AFRL’s Scholars Program involves students into actual research projects and initiatives scientists and engineers are working on and giving them responsibility and input.
“Students are paired with mentors that work to guide them in their chosen field,” AFRL Scholars Program coordinator Julie McCullough said in a statement. “While in the program, they are given an opportunity to work autonomously on the research they are interested in and that’s unprecedented in most internships.”
“The volume of high-quality, meaningful research is huge,” Fetrow said. “They’re all contributing significant work, and the program is set up that way intentionally. Patents are produced, academic papers are written, and new ideas are formulated. We’re trying to build skills for these young people, but AFRL is getting quality research out of it. I think that’s a unique goal for an internship program.”
Students are also considered and treated as respected members of the research teams.
“They care about you as a scientist,” said former scholar and National Research Council PostDoctoral Fellow, Ryan Phillips, in a news release. “This is a world class mentorship because they see it as an investment in future scientists.”
Phillips has worked with a laser group of the Directed Energy Directorate for AFRL since April 2018.
There are opportunities for students that range anywhere from high school juniors and seniors, to visiting professors looking to further their knowledge of working research.
“The program was created as a means to identify, recruit, and hire top science and technology talent in the United States,” McCullough said. “The primary objective is to increase student participation in science, technology, engineering and math to help meet long-term national defense needs for personnel who are proficient in these skills.”
The application period for the AFRL Scholars Program runs through January 14, 2020. Applying students need to submit current contact information, an updated résumé and unofficial transcripts from all schools attended. The internships typically range from 10-12 weeks, but can be as short as eight. Interested students can find more information and the application at afrlscholars.usra.edu.