Education Impacts

Investing in Idaho’s future workforce

Growing the talent pipeline involves investing in education and research partnerships with institutions within our region and throughout the nation. For more than 70 years, Idaho National Laboratory has provided outstanding educational and employment opportunities in Idaho. To keep our talent pipeline primed, we support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at all levels. The field is wide open for a new generation of talented individuals to step up and tackle the major challenges that we work on.

Accomplishments and data are from fiscal year 2023.

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Interns from Idaho schools
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Rural events
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K-12 students impacted
through 216 STEM events

Empowering future talent: Internship opportunities

We work to find, recruit and nurture talented early-career individuals in a variety of specialties. INL hosted 216 interns, three graduate fellows and 13 postdoctoral researchers from Idaho colleges and universities.

The lab also brings interns outside Idaho into our state each year. This year, we welcomed a cohort of 527 university interns. These interns come from 161 institutions across 44 states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, as well as three countries outside the United States, reflecting INL’s commitment to diversity and global perspectives.

INL has achieved a notable accomplishment by securing a position in the 2024 Vault Internship Top 100 Best Internships rankings. As the sole national laboratory to make the list, our interns not only provided valuable insights but also set a participation record.

Postdocs and interns helping the community

INL’s National University Programs and Outreach Community Engagement organized community service opportunities for postdocs and interns. Postdocs assisted at the Idaho Falls Food Basket during the Postdoc Appreciation month, preparing food for distribution. Meanwhile, summer interns supported the Snake River Animal Shelter by delivering donations from INL employees and assisting with many tasks including kennel cleaning, weed control and food storage organization.

Intern develops technology to find EV charging vulnerabilities

As electric vehicle sales have climbed in the United States, so have fears that both EVs and charging stations might be vulnerable to cyberattack. An INL-developed tool, AcCCS, (pronounced “access”) uses hardware and software to mimic what happens during the fast-charging process. By plugging into either an EV or charging station, it can detect and alert researchers to vulnerabilities and help them develop best practices.

Supporting employee education

We also invest in employees by providing the opportunity to further their education and professional development. During 2023, 299 employees were enrolled in degree programs at Boise State University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, College of Eastern Idaho, Idaho State University and University of Idaho. This program supports employee growth while investing in Idaho’s colleges and universities.

Bright Future in Energy Scholarship

The Bright Future in Energy scholarship competition entered its third year, providing scholarships for high school students planning to pursue an education and career in energy and the environment. Students proposed a solution related to a real-world challenge on energy and the environment and presented to a panel of INL judges. Two scholarship winners with outstanding presentations were matched with an appropriate INL mentor/advocate and awarded a total of $25,000, to be used at a university of their choice. One winner, Abigail Stephens, is a student at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy in Coeur d’Alene

INL Future Corps

The lab expanded the INL Future Corps program, a technical education program aimed at developing the workforce of the future. It prepares students for careers in both traditional STEM positions, like researchers and engineers, and STEM-adjacent jobs, like technicians, operators, crafts and skilled labor. Participants learn valuable skills in trades and crafts like reading schematics, machining and fabrication, industrial maintenance, welding, and electrical control systems with mentors from a variety of the lab’s facilities and directorates. The INL Future Corps program hosted 22 students for internships in FY-23, with many of these students coming from Shoshone-Bannock School District 537 and Idaho Falls School District 91.

High school science & engineering internships

The science and engineering internship track places students under the guidance of mentors from a variety of INL research directorates. A total of 21 different mentors hosted students in FY-23, many acting as first-time mentors. The program culminates in a project showcase, where students gain experience discussing their research in posters and research presentations. Research topics for students ranged from the challenges of implementing bioenergy solutions to the impact of machine learning on laboratory operations.

 

Rural STEM collaborative

STEM Scholars

My Amazing Future

Hispanic Youth Leadership Summit

Family Nuclear Science Night

As part of Nuclear Science Week, INL celebrated another successful installment of its annual Family Nuclear Science Night in 2023, welcoming nearly 300 students and parents to University Place in Idaho Falls for an evening of hands-on science projects, creative activities and demonstrations. Students collected pins and passport stamps at educational stations like a Van de Graaff generator and augmented reality exhibits.

STEM trailer

INL mobilized its STEM trailer, a mobile, pop-up education space that allows the laboratory to bring an immersive educational experience on the road, providing students with hands-on learning opportunities to at a wide variety of schools and community events.

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Idaho National Laboratory