Launching a premier partnership, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) signed a memorandum of agreement on UTEP’s campus on October 6. The goal of this collaboration is to increase the collective impact of both institutions by expanding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunities for students and developing collaborations between PNNL researchers and UTEP faculty.
As one of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) 17 national labs, PNNL is a leading institution for scientific innovation in the United States. With top-notch facilities and instrumentation unavailable anywhere else in the world, PNNL provides a unique opportunity for STEM workforce development.
“Our students and faculty will be able to collaborate with lab scientists and engineers in the search for solutions to some of our most pressing national problems,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “We’re confident that this partnership will benefit PNNL and UTEP.”
UTEP is America’s leading Hispanic serving institution, with a student body that is 84 percent Hispanic. They are an R1 research university, a designation given to the top 5 percent of colleges and universities nationally. Additionally, they are the only R1 with an open enrollment policy. As an institution, they also have 49 percent of students who are first-generation university attendees. The trajectory of UTEP’s research and educational impact and the contributions to the future diverse STEM workforce made it an ideal collaborator with PNNL.
“At PNNL, we are committed to fostering a culture where creativity and innovation thrive, and diversity, equity, and inclusion are embraced and valued,” said PNNL Director Steve Ashby. “We clearly have many synergies to celebrate today. By uniting our research aspirations and passion to inspire and equip tomorrow’s scientists and engineers, UTEP and PNNL can do much more together than separately to deliver transformative outcomes for society.”
This collaboration is built on the institutions’ complementary strengths to accelerate technical outcomes and grow a diverse, well-trained workforce. Part of the partnership includes the opportunity for joint appointments through PNNL and UTEP, which will elevate the scientific impact and productivity of researchers at both institutions by fostering collaborative research, deepening and broadening capabilities, facilitating transdisciplinary research, and providing access to specialized instrumentation and tools.
UTEP students will also have an opportunity to participate in a variety of internships at PNNL, which hosts over 1,200 interns annually. As interns work with a dedicated mentor over the course of their internship, they will also be invited to participate in the noteworthy intern development experience at PNNL called the Gold Experience. Other avenues for collaboration may include postdoctoral assignments, joint publications, conferences, and workshops.
In addition to this partnership having direct influence on national and global scientific research, it will also produce continued investment in the local communities for each institution. This collaboration allows both PNNL and UTEP to continue their strong history of economic contributions, community service, and workforce opportunities. The commitment to regional and local neighbors is a high priority for both institutions—and this collaboration represents an innovative model that centers on community impact in an effort to accelerate scientific impact.