Many of us have seen robots manufacturing cars, but what if they could build molecules, test new types of battery electrolytes, or speed the rate of discovery toward cancer treatments? Researchers are just scratching the surface of harnessing robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to truly transform science.
To explore the best applications for these cutting-edge technologies in biology, chemistry and materials sciences, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is advancing the field of autonomous discovery. The lab is seeking undergraduate and graduate students who can bring fresh ideas, diverse perspectives and creative energy to the team during a robotics and instrumentation internship.
These paid, 12-week internships will take place on site at Argonne’s world-class facility in Lemont, Illinois, during the summer of 2023. The program includes round-trip travel reimbursement and housing support.
“Students and young researchers will play a key role in all aspects of the Autonomous Discovery initiative to ensure that we are incorporating fresh, diverse perspectives.” — Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences
At the lab, students will gain hands-on experience designing robotic systems and AI, as well as programming with Python and ROS2. Interns will work with leading experts in everything from biology to robotics to physics to supercomputing while networking with students from around the country.
“Our goal is to bring breakthroughs to the public faster than ever before,” said Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences at Argonne.
He sees autonomous discovery as an exciting turning point for the future of science and stresses that the next generation of scientists must have a voice in shaping that future. “Students and young researchers will play a key role in all aspects of autonomous discovery to ensure that we are incorporating fresh, diverse perspectives,” Stevens said.
Ideal candidates should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have programming experience in C/C++ or Python, and should be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science, robotics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or a related discipline. But students aren’t expected to be experts coming in. The team is looking for enthusiastic problem solvers who want to work hard and have fun.
Casey Stone is a computational scientist who mentors several interns in Argonne’s Rapid Prototyping Laboratory, the primary lab for robotics and instrumentation interns. “It’s one of the most fun research environments I’ve been in,” she said. Stone has supervised interns working on everything from designing and 3D printing new grabbers for robotic arms to building virtual reality testing environments. She loves seeing the energy, creativity and teamwork that interns bring to new challenges.
“You find a problem, you talk about it and you figure something out,” Stone explained. “Say it’s not the right solution the first time. You just give it another shot. Maybe it’s the right solution the fifth time.”
Stone said this same process of trial and error is important when starting a career in science. “It’s incredibly valuable for young researchers to have these internship experiences,” she said. “They find out what they like and don’t like. They meet mentors who might impact their career path in exciting and unexpected ways.”
Students who are interested in a robotics and instrumentation internship should apply by February 20, 2023, for priority review. Students can learn more and apply online or send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.