The U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE, is awarding more than $5 million in scholarships and fellowships for nuclear engineering programs to many U.S. colleges, including UC Berkeley.
These awards will come through the Integrated University Program, which is a joint effort between the DOE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Spread across 32 schools, the awards will include 42 undergraduate scholarships and 34 graduate fellowships.
“Each undergraduate scholarship provides $7,500 to help cover education costs for the upcoming year, while the three-year graduate fellowship provides $52,000 each year to help pay for graduate studies and research,” a DOE press release reads. “Fellowships also include $5,000 to fund an internship at a U.S. national laboratory or other approved research facility to strengthen the ties between students and DOE’s energy research programs.”
According to UC Berkeley nuclear engineering department chair Peter Hosemann, undergraduate students will be required to apply directly to the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, or DOE-NE, for the scholarships. Similarly, graduate students’ proposals for fellowships will also be sent to the DOE-NE.
The students’ applications will then be judged by a panel of DOE-NE officials and professors. Once the decisions are made, however, it is the campuses’ nuclear engineering departments that will be in charge of administering the funds to each individual student.
Many UC Berkeley faculty and representatives said the scholarships and fellowships could be instrumental to the future generation of nuclear scientists and engineers.
“They’re fantastic resources. It gives the students really more freedom to explore uncharted territory in their research and in their work, and in that way, they can be more independent,” Hosemann said. “It comes oftentimes with opportunities for students to go into the national lab. It’s certainly easier for students to get more research opportunities and internships down the road.”
According to Jeff Latkowski, a member of the UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Advisory Board, the world’s most puzzling challenges could be solved by brilliant and skilled nuclear engineers who are currently in nuclear engineering programs such as UC Berkeley’s.
He hopes these scholarships and fellowships motivate and incentivize future students to pursue nuclear science and engineering.
Emily Frame, a UC Berkeley graduate student studying nuclear engineering, said scholarships help alleviate financial pressure on students and allow them to focus on their studies.
She added that scholarships and fellowships have become “essential” to graduate students and attributed her own separate scholarship as a constant reminder and motivator for her success.
“We would encourage future scientists and engineers to approach their studies with an open mind and an appetite,” Latkowski said in an email. “Curiosity fuels innovation, and nuclear science and engineering must continue to innovate to find new solutions to challenges such as energy poverty, climate change, cancer therapeutics, and more.”