Internships at universities (e.g., REU's), national labs, and other research organizations

Federal Lab or Other University Programs

Jet Propulsion Laboratory  This NASA laboratory, managed by Caltech, is the home to many of the unmanned space missions.   The lab has between 5,000 and 6,000 employees, mostly scientists and engineers.  They offer a wide array of internship experiences – open to undergraduates and graduate students of all levels.  These are excellent opportunities for students in many engineering, mathematics, and science fields.  Within SEAS, the obvious choices are EE and ME, but other engineering and CS will find opportunities.  Applied Mathematics concentrators should definitely consider applying, as there are many control and systems problems that would fit your backgrounds and interests.

Most internships are run through the JPL Education Office – see   

There are two JPL programs to which you should consider applying: “Summer Intern Program” and “Maximizing Student Potential in STEM” plus some additional programs that are not exclusively JPL.

General Search Engines or Lists

General search engine for summer opportunities -- Pathways to Science


Listed below are several internship programs at federal laboratories.  Many of these have deadlines that are rapidly approaching, so the holiday break is an ideal time to research these and apply.  How can you improve your chances of a successful application?

·      Spend some time looking through the websites of target labs.  Don’t just apply blindly to a lab.  Learn something about it. 

·      If you can identify an area in which you’d like to work, see if you can find more information about the researchers.

·      Consider contacting an alum at the target lab.

·      Get your resume and, if possible, portfolio, in great shape with projects that demonstrate your skills.  See the sample resumes and portfolios links on my student website at the bottom of this newsletter. 


A.           Internships at DOE National Laboratories


The 17 laboratories operated by the US Department of Energy are great places to find a summer internship.  These facilities are spread across the country – see the map below.  Each hosts several different internship programs, but one program that is common to all the labs is the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI).  The deadline for application to this program is January 12, 2017, at 5pm EST.  You must designate a first and second choice of location, so check out the application page for descriptions of many of these labs.  The SULI program is attractive to researchers at the labs, because most of the internship costs do not come out of their budgets. 


Unfortunately, freshmen are not eligible for SULI.  There are other internship programs available at many of these labs, so check for internship programs on the individual lab sites.  For example, Argonne National Lab lists several other programs including the Undergraduate Research Aide (RA) Program, which is open to freshmen. Oak Ridge National Lab also lists several programs on their site, though the main one after SULI is probably the Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) program.  Here are general links and locations for the laboratories:


Ames Laboratory

Ames, Iowa

Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne, Illinois

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Upton, New York

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Batavia, Illinois

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Berkeley, California

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Richland, Washington

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Princeton, New Jersey

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Stanford, California

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator

Newport News, Virginia

Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho Falls, ID

National Energy Technology Laboratory

Morgantown, WV, Albany, OR, and Pittsburgh, PA

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Golden, CO

Savannah River National Laboratory

Aiken, SC

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Livermore, CA

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos, NM

Sandia National Laboratory

Albuquerque, NM

B.           Internships at NASA Laboratories

NASA has an extensive internship program at several sites across the country.  Students can find the internship application at this web site.

Figure 1 NASA Facilities and Centers (copied from NASA website:

Ames Research Center - Palo Alto, CA

Armstrong Flight Research Center Edwards AFB, CA

Glenn Research Center - Cleveland, OH

Goddard Institute for Space Studies - New York, NY

Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Pasadena, CA

Johnson Space Center - Houston, TX

Kennedy Space Center - Kennedy Space Center, FL

Langley Research Center - Hampton, VA

Marshall Space Flight Center - Huntsville, AL

NASA Headquarters - Washington D.C.

Stennis Space Center - Stennis Space Center, MS

Wallops Flight Facility - Wallops Island, VA

White Sands Test Facility - Las Cruces, NM

C.           REU’s and NNCI

There are literally hundreds of these programs.  I strongly encourage you to spend some time exploring several of these programs using the search engine found on the NSF website.  You can narrow your search by geography and research area. 

I want to highlight one specific subset of these, the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI).  You must apply for REU’s at the individual sites – see this page for links -- but students participate in an end-of-program technical conference (2-3 days) held at one of the sites.  Deadlines for the applications all fall in the very-late-January to very-early-March timeframe.

D.             National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

NCAR has several programs that would be appealing to many SEAS undergrads – particularly those interested in environmental areas.  Check out the programs on this web page.

E.             National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Department of Commerce

Several internship / scholarship programs are listed here.

I highlight one of these - the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship / Internship Program.  This should be particularly appealing to Environmental Engineering students, though it is open to all SEAS fields.  You apply to this program as a sophomore.  If you are one of the approximately 120 winners, you are awarded scholarship, travel to an orientation session at the beginning of your sophomore summer, and an internship after your junior year.  Deadline for application is Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.

F.            USAJOBS

Many internships at federal agencies are found through the USA Jobs website.  Examples include the National Institute of Standards and Technology with main locations in Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder, CO and The Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

G.           For Canadian Students - National Research Council Canada (NRC)

Students from Canada can apply for internships at NRC research facilities across Canada.  Here is the link to apply.

H.           Non-US Space Agencies

Other than under extremely rare exceptions, you must be a U.S. citizen in order to work for NASA as a civil service employee.  If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may wish to consider opportunities with one of NASA’s International Space Partners. Search these links for additional information.

I.           DOD Labs


The Maryland Office of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) administers several internship and post-graduate programs for DOD labs.