The Laboratory hosted 14 students, ranging in age from middle school to college, from Green Technical Education and Employment (Green Tech) last week for a full day of presentations and tours.
Green Tech is a non-profit community-based organization in Sacramento charged with providing middle and high school students and young adults from economically disadvantaged communities quality workforce skills and educational opportunities as well as healthy strategies to maintain sustainable communities.
Ibo Matthews, physicist and deputy group leader in the in the Material Science Division of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, coordinated the visit with longtime friend and Green Tech director, Simeon Grant. About four years ago, the pair started discussing ways to engage Green Tech with the Laboratory to help educate and guide youth interested in "green" or renewable technology careers. This is the third year the group has visited the Laboratory and the largest group of students so far.
“We often take for granted the sheer breadth of cool technology we have right here at LLNL, and how little young people interested in science and engineering might know about it,” said Matthews. “A big part to empowering our youth is to give them concrete examples of what the work is really like and helping to see themselves doing what we do someday. We forget how big and scary the world can be at that age, but also exciting; bringing in kids on tours like this can help harness that excitement and bring their dreams closer to reality,” he said.
The students were excited to learn about current research at the Lab. They were given a demonstration and overview of the hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius, along with tours of the Optics Manufacturing Facility, Target Fabrication and Additive Manufacturing.
“Our day at the Lab was phenomenal,” said Breland Mosely, a student at Sacramento High School. “We saw many interesting things at the Lab that will change the future, such as alternatives for gasoline,” he said. “This was an extremely educational experience. We learned about cybersecurity, environmental protection, physics and different fields of engineering.”
Tony Baylis, director of Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Programs, addressed the students over lunch, offering inspiration on pursuing their education, student internships and potential career opportunities. “It is extremely important for us to engage with organizations such as Green Tech to help nurture students entering the pipeline into careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Baylis said. “It is great to see we are making some lasting connections between Green Tech and the Lab and I hope we are able to bring more students next year.”
Didier “DJ” Mponte, an electrical engineering student at Sacramento State University, said his experience at the Lab was eye opening. “It was a great opportunity to be exposed to the cutting-edge technology and research being conducted not far from where I live,” Mponte said. “Ultimately, the trip motivated me to continue on with my engineering degree with the mindset of creating technologies that benefit the world and those in it.”