College Student Internship Program
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1/182002 Native American student intern Deborah Tewa at Sandia's Photovoltaics Laboratory
"While I had worked with photovoltaic systems for several years including my experience at NativeSUN, the internship complemented my prior work 'in the trenches' and has been a gratifying experience."
— Deborah Tewa, 2002
2/182003 interns pictured left to right at Navajo Monument Valley: Keith Candelaria, Velissa Sandoval, and Shaun Tsabetsaye
"On our field visit to the Navajo land, [Larry Ahasteen, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority] mentioned that people refer to renewable energy as free energy. However, Native Americans believe that the sun, wind, and geothermal waters are all gifts from the Creator. As people use these resources today, they should always remember to give thanks for all that is provided. Nothing is essentially free from this land." — Keith Candelaria, 2003
3/182004 interns L-R at Hopi Tribe petroglyph: Benjamin Mar, Jennifer Coots, Colin Ben, Deborah Tewa, and Sandra Begay
"This internship has been a great experience that has allowed me to share my perspective as well as learn from other perspectives. My work with other Native People in the engineering field has been an invaluable experience for me since I have not had this opportunity before the internship. This experience has helped me to see that a problem has many facets that cannot be answered entirely with technical answers, but must be complemented by societal, financial, and other considerations as well. By visiting current Native American renewable energy installations, I was able to see the implementation of an electrical engineering design with real world applications — a piece which can be overlooked by engineers when developing the latest technology." — Benjamin Mar, 2004.
"The collaboration among the DOE Tribal Energy Program, Sandia, and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority supports renewable energy development. The interns learned a wealth of information about numerous clean and efficient renewable energy technologies that are available for Native American tribes according to their natural environmental resources. The installation field visits throughout Indian Country provided an opportunity for the team to research and interact with real installation projects, real people, and witnessing real energy produced." — Colin Ben, 2004
4/182005 interns pictured left to right at Hopi Old Oraibi Village: Tanya Martinez, Deborah Tewa, Sandra Begay, and Jennifer Coots
"I am currently a graduate student pursuing a degree in Energy Engineering with a solar option ... This particular project has given me the opportunity to become more familiar with communications infrastructures and how they can be tied to remote PV applications. It provided an interesting research topic because of its cutting edge nature. I had the opportunity to visit numerous PV sites within the Navajo, Hualapai, Hopi, and Cahuilla Nation ... Not only did I increase my technical capacity for PV, but I have witnessed some facets of Tribal and federal government relations from the government side. It is important to continue to build and maintain good relationships between the federal government and Tribal Nations while remaining aware of cultural values. Tribal Nations do have unique cultures that must be considered for any government project and it increases the success of the project when that awareness is there." — Tanya Martinez, 2005
5/182006 interns at the Navajo Nation: Thom Sacco, Terry Battiest, Jonathan Biron, Sandra Begay, Lani Tsinnajinnie, and Deborah Tewa
"The overall internship experience went far beyond my expectations because of the inclusive, hands-on, and professional nature that I was able to experience ... This internship was one that I will never forget; from the pristine landscape to the lives the renewable systems impacted; this has been an educational and memorable experience that will help guide me through my future endeavors." — Jonathan Biron, 2006.
"I am very fortunate and thankful to have participated in the Tribal Energy Program Student Internship ... The most important benefit of this internship for me is that it has given me a peek at what I want to do professionally in the future. It has always been my goal to work with Tribes in helping strengthen Native Nations and caring for the environment as well. I definitely felt that I experienced doing some of that through this internship. I feel that I have a lot to look forward to in the future in working with Native people, especially with developing renewable energy." — Lani Tsinnajinnie, 2006.
6/182007 interns: Debby Tewa (State of AZ), Thom Sacco (DOE), Cherylin Wilson, Nick Johnson and Terry Battiest.
"Since I started the internship I have been introduced to many new things. The first week of my internship, we were in San Diego visiting tribes with TEP [Tribal Energy Program] projects on their lands. It was nice to hit the ground running and see some projects that have been done and were in development stages. I thought it was a good, albeit different, way to get acclimated to the working environment. Since day one, I have felt like a valuable member of the team, which is important because not only am I learning a great deal, I also feel like I am contributing to the group. It has been a change of pace for me that has enriched my perspective on tribal and renewable energy technologies. I think this will serve me well as an engineer because I will have seen how these technologies can affect a person firsthand." — Nick Johnson, 2007
7/182008 interns pictured left to right at Navajo Nation, Arizona: Gepetta Billie, Amanda Montoya, Carson Pete, Suzanne Singer
"This internship has been one of the most motivating and unsurpassed experiences of my life. The summer opportunities were diverse and ranged from working, conversing, and experiencing what the top engineers and leaders in the country have planned and are developing for local and nationwide energy problems, to developing a better understanding of current renewable energy projects on tribal lands and the difficulties they have encountered, to examining the need for more tribal groups to become champions in leading their nations to the renewable energy world and setting examples other nations can follow, and finally, to helping address the need for young, educated Native Americans to become proactive in using their higher education to the best of their abilities and providing a better world for all of us to live in." — Carson Pete, 2008
8/182009 interns: Prestene Garnenez, Sandra Begay-Campbell & Gepetta Billie
9/182010 interns at Grand Canyon West on Hualapai tribal land: Joni Fuenmayor, Logan Slock, Prestene Garnenez, and Gepetta Billie
"It was really nice when an elderly community member…told me he was 'happy to see young Indians involved in these issues and getting their education.' His comment gave me a sense of pride in what we are doing and it made me realize that we are making a difference."
— Logan Slock
10/182010 interns at Grand Canyon West on Hualapai tribal land: Joni Fuenmayor, Gepetta Billie, Prestene Garnenez, and Logan Slock
11/182011 interns at the Pueblo of Acoma: Devin Dick, Tammie Allen, Sandra Begay, Gepetta Billie, and Chelsea Chee
12/182012 interns: Colleen Cooley, Sandra Begay, Chelsea Chee, Nikki Tulley, Nora Cata, Jessica Rodriguez
13/182013 interns at Indian Canyons Trading Post – Agua Caliente Tribe: Sandra Begay, Shalynn Summer Trancosa, & Chelsea Chee
14/182014 interns Aaron Cate, Tommy Jones, and Len Necefer with supervisor Sandra Begay
15/182015 interns Tommy Jones, Kimberlynn Cameron, Sandra Begay, Chris Deschene, JoDonna John, Brittany Anstead, and Len Necefer
16/182015 interns: Len Necefer, Brittany Anstead, Kimberlynn Cameron, JoDonna John, Sandra Begay, Thomas Jones
17/182016 interns: Thomas Jones, Sandra Begay, Kimberlynn Cameron, Diana Fuller, Rachael Gutierrez, & Len Necefer
18/18Pictured at NTUA Solar Farm, Kayenta, AZ – Navajo Nation: Sandra Begay, Teri Allery, Kathryn Hall
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy offers a college student internship program for current full-time undergraduate and graduate students who are familiar with Native American culture and tribal issues. Interns provide support on Office of Indian Energy-funded projects and assist a cross-disciplinary team to perform specific technical tasks in the field and at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories.
Learn more about and download research papers from past interns. Get additional details on internship requirements and the application process.
DOE Tribal Internship Program: Cultivating Indian Energy Leaders
DOE Tribal Internship Program: Cultivating Indian Energy Leaders
Watch a video to hear about the experiences of DOE's tribal college student interns.
College Student Internship Program Highlights, 2002-2017
- 38 undergraduate and graduate interns have participated in the internship program
- 21 different tribal affiliations have been represented
- 19 different student majors have been represented
- 24% of interns were converted to year-round status
- 16% of interns were hired as full-time employees or Sandia contractors
- 63% of interns were female students hired based on merit and competitive selection process.