Student internships offer an introduction to the Laboratory, valuable experience

More than 1500 students take part each summer

August 11, 2022

Student Interns Opt
Summer of 2022 high school and undergraduate student interns at the Laboratory’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. David Moore

Each summer, more than 1,500 high school, undergraduate and graduate students come to call Los Alamos National Laboratory their home away from home. The LANL student internship program allows students to work closely with mentors on technical and professional assignments that are directly impactful to Laboratory and national security missions.

The Laboratory hosts an array of internship programs, each intended to provide applicable experience and funding to interested students. Due to COVID-19, the programs offered have expanded to offer remote, hybrid and on-site options, based on the necessity of in-person work for their assignments.

“We have a robust, vibrant set of student internships,” says Emily Robinson, internship coordinator for the Laboratory’s Student Programs Office. “We want our students to have meaningful, career-oriented experiences while they’re here. It’s important for us to match them with world-class mentors who can help guide them through their projects and continue to support them even after the internship is finished. Los Alamos National Laboratory has a legacy of excellence, and our student programs are no different.”

Technical and professional internships for students

The Laboratory’s paid internship programs offer qualified high school, undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to develop their skills and gain work experience in a variety of career fields throughout Laboratory organizations. 

While the high school program is available only to New Mexico students, the undergraduate and graduate internships are open to domestic and international students and have both summer and year-round options. The graduate program is specifically designed to complement students’ academic endeavors. In some cases, students can conduct their thesis or dissertation research at the Laboratory.

More than 46% of the undergraduate students in the program are women, while 41% are from underrepresented minorities.

Department of Energy and other externally funded programs

In addition to the paid internships offered through LANL, there are several externally funded options for undergraduate and graduate students. These special internship programs provide internship experiences sponsored by various offices in the Department of Energy. Students engage in research and educational experiences alongside LANL personnel as they work on specific projects to fulfill their program requirements.

One example of a DOE internship is the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) Program.

"Through the SULI Program, I started working with plant-water models which can be used to get live fuel moisture content to be used in fire behavior models," said research intern Caleb Adams. "It's actually the same kind of project I plan to continue working on in the future."

A summer program for military students

In another type of internship at the Laboratory, each summer, the Service Academies & ROTC Research Associates (SARRA) program brings approximately 30 students from the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, and ROTC programs to Los Alamos. Students spend four to eight weeks working on-site with a mentor on projects that have real-world national security implications.

"My visit at the Lab was a highly educational experience,” said West Point Cadet Corban Barstow. “I was able to greatly broaden my understanding of the processes involved in scientific research and even dip my toe into the application to contribute to our nation’s defense and the essential missions here at LANL. I hope to one day continue my contribution to this field, perhaps returning to the Lab one day, myself."

Corban is not alone in wanting to return to the Laboratory: 35% of all current LANL employees are former students or postdocs.

For more information about LANL student programs, visit the Student Programs Office webpage.