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Mentors Matter: Championing the Future STEM Workforce

PNNL physicist Cheslan Simpson and intern Isidro Garcia

Physicist Cheslan Simpson (left) observes intern Isidro Garcia preparing a commercial occupancy sensor for testing.

Credit: (Andrea Starr / PNNL)

Isidro Pantoja Garcia applied for an internship with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in spring 2020, and was accepted for the following summer. While many STEM internships elsewhere had been closed due to COVID-19, PNNL accommodated creative ways to continue to provide internship opportunities for students.

Through the internship, Garcia gained both an internship STEM mentor — Cheslan Simpson, a PNNL physicist, and a machine learning mentor — Thomas Grimes, a data scientist.

"My internship ended up focusing on machine learning, which I wasn't really familiar with," says Garcia, then a mechanical engineering major at Washington State University Pullman. "It was very interesting and opened my eyes to more of the computer science field."

PNNL welcomes approximately 1,300 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students annually through a suite of programs, with each connected with a dedicated mentor.

From Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
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