The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is pleased to announce its inaugural Summer Internship Program for rising Juniors and Seniors at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in the Summer of 2024. Known as Inspiring New Transformations in Energy Research by Emerging Scientists and Technologists (INTEREST), this paid internship program seeks to connect talented STEM majors at MSIs with active ARPA-E Performers to assist ARPA-E-funded projects and provide students an opportunity to collaborate and contribute to high-profile, high-impact next generation energy technology development and R&D. INTEREST internships will be hosted at the sites of active ARPA-E Performers or their Partners during Summer 2024. Details of the program are below.

ARPA-E INTEREST Program MSI Internship TM

Student Applications for INTEREST Internships are due February 23rd, 2024. Apply Here!

Scroll down for descriptions of each of the 10 internships.


Project #1: Supercritical CO2 based mining for carbon-negative critical mineral recovery

Location: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) – Richland, WA

What is the carbonation and critical mineral recovery potential of the Josephine Ophiolite, Northern California? To answer this question, the intern will analyze the composition and texture of a dunite sample from the Josephine Ophiolite before and after a 60-day reaction with supercritical CO2 and water. The internship will provide training and mentorship on a wide variety of analysis techniques including X-ray fluorescence (XRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) to quantify and characterize any newly formed carbonate minerals and the mobility of critical minerals (e.g., nickel) during the reaction.    

Project #2: Green light emitting diodes for the ultimate solid-state lighting

Location: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) – Urbana, IL 

The intern will participate in the work related to modeling, fabrication, and measurement of green light emitting diodes for the solid-state lighting. Specifically, the intern will be investigating the optical properties of phase-transitioned cubic (In)GAN material using temperature and excitation dependent measurements. The intern will search for the various polar, nonpolar, and semipolar LEDs and try to summarize the origins of droop in these devices. The student will be trained by staff members and have access to clean rooms to conduct photonic materials testing. In addition, the intern will have the opportunity to attend the annual Advanced Materials Characterization workshop.  

Project #3: Carbon-negative mining from gangue minerals enabled by energy-efficient electrosynthesis of acid and base

Location: Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD 

The intern will engage in pivotal work related to material analysis and mineral extraction. The research activities include analyzing material composition, leaching mineral samples with systematic control of conditions, titration of leaching solutions to extract critical minerals, and data processing to study the influence of different parameters. This work will help to develop sustainable mining techniques for critical elements like manganese, cobalt, nickel, and copper, leveraging energy-efficient electrosynthesis of acid and base. 

Project #4: Highly efficient electrochemical oxide reduction for U/TRU recovery from LWR fuel

Location: Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) – Chicago, IL 

The intern will investigate the electrochemical stability of a subset of next-generation anode materials under the guidance of the mentor and staff researchers. This project will provide a valuable opportunity for the intern to develop a wide array of technical skills including material synthesis, electrochemical testing, material characterization, and data analysis. The work will contribute to the research and development of a highly efficient oxide reduction process that is vital to enabling commercially viable recycling of used nuclear fuels. 

Project #5: An entirely wood floor system designed for carbon negativity, future adaptability, and end of life de/re/construction

Location: Clemson University – Clemson, SC 

The intern will work closely with the structural engineering team members to advance the construction, documentation, and testing of an assembly of a novel mass timber floor system. The intern will be responsible for the quantification of construction metrics including time for construction, energy consumption, and documentation of construction sequencing. In addition to construction metrics, the intern will also quantify deconstruction metrics related to cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (GLT) connections to evaluate end-of-life potential of the floor system.  

Project #6: Two-step chloride volatility process for reprocessing nuclear fuel from advanced reactors

Location: Brigham Young University (BYU) – Provo, UT 

This internship will enable a more in-depth and fundamental study of volatility behavior of uranium chlorides in a wider variety of non-radioactive fission product salts. The intern will quantify the yield and purity of uranium as well as the waste stream from a two-step chloride volatility (TSCV) process developed to reprocess advanced reactor fuel. Training and mentorship will be provided to perform chloride volatility experiments with HCl and Cl2 gas, sample preparation for inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) and related analysis.       

Project #7: High capacity eletrolyzers based on ultrathin proton-conducting oxide membranes

Location: Columbia University – New York City, NY 

The intern will play a pivotal role in investigating suitable precursors and determining the optimal phosphorous content to incorporate into doped oxide membranes fabricated by wet chemical processing. Experience will be gained in the areas of thin film deposition, electrochemical, chemical, and physical characterization of such films under guidance of the mentor and team. Additionally, the intern will gain hands-on experience with ellipsometry to measure membrane thickness. This effort will be very complementary to ongoing efforts by project partner Forge Nano, which is making oxide membranes using atomic layer deposition (ALD). 

Project #8: Assessment of co-locating benefits of modular datacenters with indoor farms

Location: UC Davis – Davis, CA 

The intern will work on analyzing data from market assessment surveys of key stakeholders to identify potential opportunities and challenges in datacenter co-location, required heat load profiles, and most favorable geographic locations for controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Once the market data is analyzed, the intern will help to develop alternate designs for the utilization of the waste heat for CEA processes. The development will include the simplification of component models (e.g., heat exchangers, dehumidifiers, etc.) and perform system level thermal analysis to evaluate the potential energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reduction by co-location of datacenters with CEA.  

Project #9: Incorporating record-breaking catalysts in electrospun bipolar membranes for low-cost carbon capture via salt splitting

Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) – Golden, CO 

In this engineering-based project, the intern will test a series of custom-made bipolar membranes (BPMs) for performance and durability in BPM electrodialysis reactor stacks designed for electrochemical bicarbonate conversion for carbon capture applications. The intern will get hands-on experience with the assembling and testing of industrial scale electrodialysis stacks and gain an understanding of the electrochemical engineering related to direct air capture of CO2. The intern will also assist the rest of the team with fabricating novel BPMs using an electrospinner to achieve a blended anion- and cation-conducting polymer nanofiber 3D interface, an air sprayer for catalyst addition, and hot press for enhanced adhesion.         

Project #10: Reducing compressor station methane emissions through advanced lean combustion employing radical ignition and feed-forward cycle control

Location: Texas A&M University (TAMU) – College Station, TX 

The intern will be performing computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations of novel prechamber designs that can reduce methane emissions from natural gas pipeline compressor station engines. The intern will first perform literature survey evaluation of various prechamber designs and plasma ignition systems, then develop computational model of a proposed chamber design to be simulated in CFD. The intern will also create a 3D print of the prechamber for fitment testing and other potential design iterations before executing full cycle engine CFD simulation to assess improvement in methane reduction compared to conventional baseline engines.  

 


Program Details 

  • ARPA-E seeks to place talented rising Junior and Senior students in STEM majors at MSIs in internships at ARPA-E performer sites to gain valuable professional and technical experience while contributing to the advancement of active ARPA-E-funded projects.  
  • ARPA-E anticipates funding internships that span a range of geographic locations and technical topics currently supported by ARPA-E. However, the number of internships funded under the INTEREST program will be limited in this inaugural year. 
  • Through the program, interns will have the opportunity to engage in the ARPA-E supported entrepreneurial process of technology development toward commercial deployment. ARPA-E will provide customized learning and engagement opportunities to the interns, while the interns will provide valuable technical assistance to ARPA-E teams under the leadership of their host site mentor.
  • Each summer internship will be unique in scope and technical focus. 
  • Summer 2024 internships will run 12 weeks but may be longer or shorter depending on the internship needs.

INTEREST MSI Student Interns

INTEREST interns will receive financial support including a monthly stipend, housing support and round-trip airfare to and from the host site. In addition, interns will gain:  

  • Insight into active entrepreneurial thinking while developing next-generation technologies.
  • Technical and professional experience while working alongside an engaged mentor involved in the ARPA-E project.
  • Unique networking opportunities with experts at host and other institutions, and through other ARPA-E engagements.  

The INTEREST program is open to rising Junior or Senior undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields, and meeting the following criteria:  

  • Active full time enrollment in an undergraduate STEM major at an accredited Minority Serving Institution (MSI) that meets the statutory criteria for identification as a MSI defined by the U.S. Department of Education (https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/edlite-minorityinst.html
  • At least 18 years of age 
  • An individual protected against specified unfair employment practices, e.g., “protected individual” as defined in 8 U.S.C. Section 1324b (US citizen, permanent resident (“green card” holder), lawful refugee or asylee timely seeking U.S. citizenship, etc.) 
  • Completed at least two years of college credits (as per official transcripts) 
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale  

Download the INTEREST Program FAQs


Applying to Internship Opportunities

INTEREST internships are now open for student applications. Minorities are encouraged to apply. Applications are due February 23rd, 2024.

Student applicants will need to submit:

  • A statement of interest related to the internship (2 pages max)
  • Official transcripts 
  • A recommendation letter. 

A student may apply to as many internship opportunities as you wish. Each internship requires a separate full application submission. Click here to apply.

ARPA-E Internship Hosts

  • The number of ARPA-E teams eligible to host interns is limited for this inaugural year. ARPA-E teams and projects eligible to participate in the INTEREST program are as follows: 
    • University or national lab led ARPA-E project 
    • Active Period of Performance at least through January 1, 2025 or later 
    • Technical progress status not RED as of September 30, 2023. 
  • Eligible teams have been contacted directly by ARPA-E and invited to submit an internship project proposal for consideration.
  • Internship projects must have outcomes aligned with active ARPA-E projects in good standing as detailed above. Not all proposals submitted may be selected for sponsorship by ARPA-E.
  • Host teams must have an actively involved mentor for the intern who is stationed at the host site for the internship.
  • Host teams must also provide a plan of engagement for the intern that focuses on the student experience in a way that captures the spirit of technical development with commercial deployment befitting an ARPA-E funded project. 

For more information, contact us at msi-internship.arpae@hq.doe.gov