On Monday, January 13, engineering students from the University of Toledo’s Roy and Marcia Armes Engineering Leaderships Institute (ELI) visited the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to prepare themselves for the leadership challenges facing engineers. Argonne helped them develop critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) leadership skills and see how their future STEM careers could play out in a national laboratory.
At Argonne, scientific leadership is prized at all levels and areas of work, helping to create the Lab’s collaborative and creative research environment. Through immersive student programs linking schools and communities to Argonne’s world-changing research, Argonne’s Educational Programs and Outreach creates pathways and opportunities for the next generation of STEM leaders, both within the Lab and nationwide.
“It is important for students to see these core values in action early on so they can become the fabric of their personal leadership philosophy. Then, when they are in a position of influence, they can lead with integrity.” — Meridith Bruozas, manager of Argonne’s Educational Programs and Outreach department
Argonne panel sessions highlighted key “soft skills” for STEM leaders. In particular, the panels showcased the importance of positive communication. “Being able to communicate the significance of what you’re doing,” postdoctoral researcher Lauren Valentino explained, “is often as important as the discovery itself.”
Communication skills represent just one example of many soft skills integral to STEM workplaces. “It is important for students to see these core values in action early on,” said Meridith Bruozas, Argonne’s manager of Educational Programs and Outreach, “so they can become the fabric of their personal leadership philosophy. Then, when they are in a position of influence, they can lead with integrity.”
In addition to the information they received on developing soft skills, students also experienced the professional side of STEM leadership and discovered how their potential future careers paths can intersect with Argonne’s world-changing research. By networking with Argonne professionals at every stage of their careers, students learned about different possible career trajectories.
The Argonne visit also featured tours of DOE Office of User Facilities like the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) and the Advanced Photon Source (APS). Students admired Argonne’s high-level research, and they were amazed by the collaborative scientists driving these advancements. “They’re like normal people,” mechanical engineering sophomore Orion Green said, “…yet they’re still doing things that I never thought I could be a part of.”
Jon Pawlecki, faculty director for ELI, expressed great optimism for his engineering students’ STEM leadership potential, which is stronger than ever after seeing Argonne. “These are students who may end up solving some very important problems.” He also shared how he and the university appreciated experiencing a national laboratory like Argonne firsthand. “They [national labs] are truly…national treasures,” he concluded.
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.