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The Community College Internship Program at NREL

The Community College Internship (CCI) program is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science undergraduate education and research programs.

CCI Intern Riley Whitehead presents her research, Development of BaNiO3 for Piezoelectrics and Oxygen Evolution Reaction Applications, at the end of the term poster session.

Participation in the CCI program at NREL is designed to complement academic programs and provide students with valuable, hands-on technical and research experience. NREL provides the opportunity for interns to train as technicians or scientific researchers in world-class laboratory facilities under the direction of staff who serve as research advisors and mentors.

CCI Benefits

Stipend — $500 per week

Housing — $125 per week if permanent address is more than 50 miles from NREL

Travel — To and from NREL (airfare or personal car mileage for more than 50 miles from NREL)

Watch this video for some housing tips from past interns.

What Interns Do at NREL

NREL conducts research in about 50 areas of scientific investigation, including photovoltaics, wind energy, biomass-derived fuels and chemicals, building efficiency, advanced vehicles, industrial processes, solar thermal systems, hydrogen, fuel cells, geothermal, distributed energy resources, energy integration, measurement and testing of renewable energy systems, hybrid systems, basic energy research, scientific computing, and energy analysis.

Interns spend their term engaged in a research project focused in these areas under the guidance of a laboratory scientist or engineer. Interns attend enriching professional development activities such as laboratory tours, speakers on scientific developments at NREL, and workshops that provide guidance and development of professional skills in writing technical research papers, oral presentations, and posters.

There are two types of CCI interns; CCI participants who are pursuing certification programs in specific technician areas such as HVAC, solar installer, etc. and CCI students who are getting an Associate's degree with the intention of pursuing a four-year degree. Both work on technologies, instrumentation projects, or in major research facilities supporting DOE's mission, under the guidance of laboratory staff scientists or engineers.

Watch this video to learn what interns do at NREL.

CCI Start Dates and Terms

Fall term (August-December): 3rd Monday in August for 10-16 weeks or 400 hours

Spring term (January-May): 3rd Monday in January, for 10-16 weeks or 400 hours

Summer term (June-August): 1st Monday in June, for 10 weeks

For the summer term, NREL has a "late start" date for participants who, for academic reasons, can't start on the first day. This later date is only for participants whose school term ends later than the beginning of the program. This date must be approved by NREL's Workforce Development and Education Coordinator.

In the Fall and Spring Terms, there is an option for a "flex-schedule" where the equivalent of 400 hours spent onsite at NREL can be spread over a 16 week duration term. Under a flex-schedule, weekly stipends are based on a 40-hours/week payment, prorated accordingly, with any housing allowance being based upon a 10-week duration appointment.

Visit the Office of Science CCI program website for information related to the application and selection process, eligibility, benefits, key dates, and more.

Tips for CCI Program Participants

In addition to the participant obligations listed through the Office of Science, all selected NREL CCI and SULI participants should consider the following before arriving at NREL.

Students will need to make your own arrangements as NREL does not have onsite housing.

Students will most likely conduct research at NREL's main campus in Golden, but you may be at the National Wind Technology Center near Boulder.

Students are encouraged to contact their designated mentor to discuss the specifics of each project and better understand the mentor's academic and professional background. Request reading material and online research that will help you prepare for the research project.

By Air
All flight arrangements will be made for you. Selected students are provided one round trip domestic travel to and from NREL, if permanent address is more than 50 miles from the laboratory.

By Car
Travel by a private automobile will be reimbursed at the current government rate up to a maximum of $500 or the cost of the lowest commercial airfare, whichever is lower.

 
NREL coordinates a one-time background investigation and drug screening for all new employees, interns and contractors. Once interns receive the scheduled appointment for the drug screening, they have 72 hours to complete the required urine test.
NREL encourages interns to spend about 40 hours per week working or participating in the professional development opportunities. In the Fall and Spring Terms, there is an option for a “flex-schedule” where the equivalent of 400 hours spent onsite at NREL can be spread over a 16 week duration term. Under a flex-schedule, weekly stipends are based on a 40-hours/week payment, prorated accordingly, with any housing allowance being based upon a 10-week duration appointment.

Casual dress code is permitted at NREL, however when working in any laboratories, interns must wear long pants, shirts that cover the shoulders, and wear closed-toed shoes. High heels cannot be worn in the labs.

Interns must wear business attire for the poster session.

Men: dress slacks and button down shirt.

Women: dress slacks or dresses. Please, no jeans or flip-flops.