Historical Content Note: The following material is reprinted from publications from throughout Fermilab's history. It should be read in its original historical context.

Summer Intern Program is a Historic Success

Fermilab has been investing in the futures of bright, qualified scientists for nearly 20 years, through its Summer Internship in Science and Technology Program. Administered by the Fermilab Equal Opportunity Office (EOO), the Program brings promising minority undergraduates in physics, engineering, and computer science to the Lab each summer.

Students spend 11 weeks at the Lab, working with a supervisor on an on-going research project. The supervisor may assign an individual project or a small piece of a larger research project. Finley Markley (TS/Engin.), chairman of the Program committee, emphasized that whatever the students work on must contribute positively to their education. "We expect the students to be productive and help ful in their program," said Markley, "but we also expect the reverse. That is, the supervisor should also be helpful and productive in the students' efforts to acquire some knowledge about science. We want them to participate in a research project."

In addition to the research project, students attend weekly lectures and prepare a final paper and presentation based on their project Dianne Engram, of the EEO, sees the lecture series as particularly beneficial. Each lecture addresses a different area of research taking place at the Lab. "While they're here," said Engram, "they're not just exposed to the one area that they work in, but throughout the ten weeks they get a fuller understanding of the scope of the research at a laboratory of this size." Markley added that the final presentation and paper are also very important aspects of the program. "Both the paper and the oral presentation give students some experience doing the kinds of things they're going to have to do during their professional lives."

Aggressive recruiting ensures that the top students participate in the program each summer. A committee of approximately seven Fermilab staff visit campuses across the country every fall and winter, interviewing students recommended by their departments. Committee members target schools with high minority enrollments throughout the nation and Puerto Rico. But, as Markley points out, if the committee hears of a single interested and qualified student at a particular university, "we will still certainly try to make contact We'll do whatever is necessary to find good students."

Jim Davenport, Chairman of the Physics Department and Professor of Physics at Virginia State University, coordinates the Summer Internship Program. Davenport has been involved in the program since its beginning in 1970. In addition to advising students on educational and scientific issues, he serves as a link between students and their supervisors, and recruits Fermilab staff to give the weekly lectures. As a member of the program committee, Davenport also recruits new students in his area of the country.

Regardless of course of study, the students enrich and enliven the Fermilab environment. Said Markley, "With the students you get things done that you otherwise would not have considered tackling. You may have to work a bit harder to both advise the student and get the work done, but it does get done, and wouldn't have otherwise." The energy and enthusiasm of the students also contribute to the working atmosphere of the Lab. "Just having a lot of bright, eager young minds around, asking questions of people and stirring things up, gives us a little bit of the kind of excitement that you would find on a university campus," said Markley.

Spending a summer at the Lab may lead to permanent employment, as Geraldine Royal Hopkins discovered in 1978. Hopkins had recently graduated as a physics major at Dillard University in New Orleans. She had been interested in Fermilab ever since reading a magazine article about a female postdoc at the Lab.

"At the time," explained Hopkins, "I was interested in the environmental aspects of physics, so I was assigned to the Radiation Physics Group. I collected silt samples and did spectrometry analysis on them, checking radioactive exposure to the environment. The experience motivated me to try and stay on at Fermilab."

Shortly after her internship ended, Hopkins began work in the Accelerator Division Operations Group. Her internship gave her a heightened awareness of safety issues on her new job. The internship also increased her confidence in her abilities and gave her "an overall picture of the functioning of the Lab." Hopkins currently works in the Accelerator Division Controls Group.

Hopkins said she would definitely recommend the Summer Internship Program to others. "From what I hear among the people working currently with the program, and from the newer students in recent years, the program has gotten even better since I was in it. There seems to be an even closer networking between the students, Jim Davenport, and the supervisors."

The Summer Internship Program also serves as a direct conduit for the Universities Research Association Graduate Minority Fellowship. URA Fellowships are awarded to physics students who show potential as scientists and who have participated in the Summer Internship Program. The amount of the Fellowship varies, but "the Fellowship is intended to give the student enough money so that they will not have to work while going to school," said Markley. The Fellowship ensures that the student can dedicate himself or herself exclusively to course work and research.

Feedback on the Summer Internship Program has been consistently positive, both from the professors of participating students and from the students themselves. "Their professors specifically see an improvement in the students' understanding, and an improvement in their attitude," said Markley. "Also, it is almost unanimous that when the student goes back enthused about the exciting scientific summer he or she has had, the next year we are almost overwhelmed with students that want to come and join Fermilab."