Oak Ridge Associated Universities
ORAU, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation and federal contractor headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tenn., manages STEM learning and workforce development programs through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) and ORAU’s Center for Science Education. Through these two activities, ORAU provides critical support to students, recent graduates and postdoctoral researchers who aim to become the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Last year alone, ORAU supported nearly 9,000 students and faculty who took part in internship, scholarship, and fellowship programs that either provided further direction for their careers or encouraged them to pursue degrees in areas of critical national need. ORAU supported:
- 1,225 undergraduate students
- 877 graduate students
- 2,214 recent graduates
- 1,697 postdoctoral fellows
- 194 university faculty
- 411 other scientists
- 1,405 K-12 students
- 873 K-12 teachers
That comprehensive body of research participants were earning degrees or teaching at 830 colleges and universities, and they conducted research at more than 350 laboratories and research centers across the nation.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Laboratory Technology Program, just one example of the research programs available through ORISE, provides hands-on experience and technical mentoring in the STEM-related fields to qualified undergraduate and graduate students. ORISE works closely with academic institutions from across the U.S. to identify, select, and support students pursuing degrees in fields that serve the scientific and technical mission at ORNL. Once selected, the students work alongside mentors, receive a monthly stipend, and participate in the program while they complete their degrees, either full time or part time. The program also provides tuition reimbursement, an allowance for textbooks and access to medical insurance.
Alumni depart the Laboratory Technology Program better prepared for a career in the technical workforce. For example, 52 percent of program alumni are now full-time employees at ORNL; 17 percent are employed in the private sector; 14 percent are employed by other government agencies; 10 percent are employed outside of the lab tech field, and 7 percent have continued their education at a college or university.
Abbey Merriman is a chemical engineering major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. As a participant in the ORNL Laboratory Technology program, Merriman works part-time in additive manufacturing. Her research focuses on 3-D metal printing, metallography, and analyzing the structure of finished 3-D printed pieces.
While many early-career professionals can take advantage of research experiences through ORISE, the ORAU Center for Science Education invests in the other end of the education spectrum: K-12 students and teachers. Leveraging its partnerships with DOE and other agencies, ORAU connects real science to classroom instruction and offers both educators and students a variety of academies and programs that enhance classroom teaching and learning of key STEM principles. In a typical year, ORAU provides 12 programs to more than 300 participants at no cost to them. For some programs, the Appalachian Regional Commission and ORNL provide key funding support.
ORAU education specialists also analyze many factors influencing labor trends, including employment rates and forecasts; participation by women and other minority groups; stay rates attributed to foreign program participants; competitive salary ranges; and other outcomes directly connected to the participants’ immersion in STEM programs.
These reports help customers assess impacts of specific research participation programs, track new developments or changes in higher education and analyze critical shifts in workforce needs. In the latest fiscal year, ORAU completed 18 such assessments, including a report for the State of Tennessee evaluating the effectiveness of the Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy, a professional development program to create a cadre of current K-12 teachers and administrators to serve as STEM advocates and leaders in Tennessee’s schools, districts and the state.
ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the ORISE for DOE. Learn more about ORAU at www.orau.org.
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