University Partnerships Programs

Find opportunities to engage with NREL as a university faculty member, staff member, or student.

In addition to the programs below, there are a wide variety of national and international university research collaborations that are a key part of our program.

Alliance Partner University Program

Established in 2008, the Alliance Partner University Program grants NREL exclusive and strategically important guidance, resources, capabilities, and insights from six top-tier universities. Participating universities are Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Howard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and University of Colorado Boulder. Allliance universities serve on NREL's Science and Technology Board to guide and inform research across the laboratory.

California Renewable Energy Laboratory

NREL is the technical partner for the Kern Community College District in the establishment of the California Renewable Energy Laboratory, an innovative coalition of public and private partners seeking to create a secure and stable energy future. Centers of excellence were created on specific energy topics to create academic programs and workforce development opportunities that the laboratory sees as crucial to the future of Kern County. The inaugural centers include clean energy and grid resilience, carbon management, and clean transportation—all with a cross-cutting energy justice focus.

Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory

The Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory was created in 2007 with the four leading research and educational institutions—the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado College, and NREL—to work with industry partners, public agencies, and other universities and colleges to transform the energy future. The Collaboratory is key to the Colorado Net Zero Campus Forum, which creates space for collaboration, sharing resources, and creating learning opportunities to nurture and cultivate a dialogue among higher education institutions with similar decarbonization goals in research, facilities, and operations.

Mines/NREL Nexus

The Mines/NREL Nexus initiative is a strategic partnership between Colorado School of Mines and NREL that strengthens, accelerates, and enhances collaborative efforts. The mission of Nexus is to invest in the development of joint responses to grand challenges, catalyze research funding to pursue joint work, and foster the exchange of ideas and funding via research and teaching. An annual seed funding program, which helps develop new research collaborations between Mines faculty and NREL researchers, has led to innovative programs.  

Minority-Serving Institution Partnerships and Research Collaborations

To meet the demands of our world's future energy needs in the clean energy transition, NREL is actively creating new partnerships with minority-serving institutions that have programs and goals contributing to innovations in clean energy research. Minority-serving institutions, their faculty, and their students are critical to NREL's clean energy mission, and it is imperative that their perspectives and voices help frame research questions that advance an equitable, clean energy future.

Student Training in Applied Research Internship Program

Designed and launched In 2022, the Student Training in Applied Research program is an enhanced educational and internship program designed for undergraduate students and faculty at minority-serving institutions. Engineering and applied science students work alongside faculty and NREL mentors to deliver on joint research objectives and develop professional and technical skills necessary for the workforce or continued education. Simultaneously, the program pairs NREL researchers and faculty advisers with shared research disciplines to help develop long-term relationships, collaboration, and learning exchanges that transcend the program.

Other University Engagement Opportunities

Joint Appointment Program

Joint appointments are offered between NREL and universities to promote research and education in scientific, analytic, and technical fields.

Postdoctoral Positions

Recent Ph.D. graduates can accelerate their science and engineering training through NREL's postdoctoral research programs, which leverage the laboratory's leading technologies and staff to prepare postdocs for careers.


NREL offers a wide variety of internship opportunities to full-time undergraduate and graduate students.

Workforce Development Affiliate Programs

Workforce development affiliate programs are additional pathways for students, faculty, and others to work within NREL to further their knowledge of and careers in renewable energy and energy efficiency. A few notable faculty engagement opportunities:

Visiting Faculty Program

The Visiting Faculty Program is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program that seeks to increase university or college faculty members' and students' research competitiveness to expand the workforce vital to DOE's mission. Selected faculty members collaborate with laboratory research staff on a project of mutual interest.

Faculty-Applied Clean Energy Sciences

NREL, in partnership with DOE's Office of Energy Justice and Equity and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, developed the Faculty-Applied Clean Energy Sciences program to empower science technology, engineering, and math faculty from minority-serving institutions.