STEM Competitions And Internships Encourage Deeper Learning For Students

If you have wondered how today’s youth, in the USA and around the world, are learning and growing despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, take a look at the many STEM events, competitions, and programs hosted by educational institutions, government agencies, and international organizations. 

In today’s post, we are celebrating the annual Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) event Ignite Off! competition winner Janet Teng, Sophomore at Pasadena City College (PCC). “The Ignite Off! event showcases the talents of interns from participating federal agencies and offices as they share their research through Ignite Talks. Each competitor has five minutes to present their project, using 20 picture-centric slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. Contestants have access to a professional development course that teaches the process for developing an Ignite talk,” according to the ORISE program page.

Janet Teng is an intern at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and has plans for graduate school to explore how engineering and physical sciences intersect and how she can better the lives of others.

From her technical abstract submitted to the ORISE competition: “As corrosion, the natural occurring chemical process of a material degrading over time, continues to result in menacing safety and economic consequences, there is an increased urgency to develop corrosion-resistant materials…” In five brief and intense minutes, she outlined her research and analysis to explain how she used “Atom Probe Microscopy (APM) suite of techniques while coupled with a novel operando mode of analysis developed at PNNL, to map out spatial and temporal chemical reactions with atomic resolution.” Ultimately, by drilling down to the atomic scale, she looked at “the impacts a material’s crystal structure has on surface reaction kinetics which can eventually allow us to bridge the knowledge gap needed to better engineer corrosion-resistant materials for real-world applications.”

Ms. Teng participated in the Community College Internship (CCI) program under the Department of Energy. Her research was at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with mentors Daniel E. Perea, Sten Lambeets, and Mark Wirth. Her mentor at PCC is Dr. Jared Ashcroft. You can view other ORISE Ignite Off! 2021 finalists and their presentations here.

If you are an educator looking for ideas on Advanced Technological Education, read our recent summary post: HI-TEC Event Opens New Opportunities For Educators In Advanced Tech Education.