Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 23; Contributor: Shannon Potter | June 15, 2021

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From left, Jordan Washington, McKenzie Taylor, and Sierra Generette joined EM contractor UCOR’s summer internship program at Oak Ridge this year as part of the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars Program.

Developing a diverse workforce is vital to achieving Oak Ridge’s ambitious cleanup goals in the years ahead.

EM cleanup contractor UCOR conducts college internships each year to attract and retain the next generation of talent. This year, the company is expanding its internship program by hosting interns from the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars (MES) Program for the first time.

Looking to inspire interest among a diverse group of students, UCOR joins other DOE locations — including the Savannah River and Hanford sites and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory — to host MES interns.

UCOR’s MES interns arrived last week to begin learning and supporting projects in engineering, reindustrialization, and communications and community outreach. The students include:

  • Jordan Washington, a civil engineering major at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
  • Sierra Generette, a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources and conservation. She also received a certification in waste management from the university.
  • McKenzie Taylor, a computer informational systems major at Savannah State University in Georgia.

The MES Program is a paid summer internship that provides underrepresented college students exposure research in the areas of environmental science, environmental justice, and environmental policy.

The program recruits qualified undergraduates from historically Black colleges, tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions for extensive training that will direct them toward employment in various research and management positions within DOE. To qualify for the MES Program, applicants must be pursuing a degree in a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-related field such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, or environmental science.

“Even though UCOR completed major cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park as part of Vision 2020, we realize that much more cleanup will be required here in Oak Ridge and across the nation,” UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter said. “Because of that continuing need for workers, we are committed to cultivating the next generation of cleanup workers.”

UCOR’s summer internship program pairs college students from across the nation with mentors. UCOR has hired several participants of the program after graduation, and they are advancing cleanup efforts at the site.