NNSA Partners With ROTC in New Internship Program

The National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. military have joined forces. Together, the Office of Defense Programs and the ROTC Internship Program are providing a new opportunity for student enrichment in the nuclear security enterprise. Under the leadership of Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, principal assistant deputy administrator for military application for NNSA, the internship program will provide college students with internships at certain NNSA labs.

ROTC has a rich history of excellence in military service and academic scholarship dating back to the early 20th century. Today the program is available at over 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide, and provides students with exemplary leadership training that paves the way for success in any career field.

Prior to the new program, internships were exclusively geared toward military academy cadets and midshipmen through the Military Academy Collaboration program. This new six-week internship program, however, expands beyond military academies and places ROTC students at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, where they will work directly with program managers on a regular basis.

The internship program’s first class is composed of three exceptional students from the University of New Mexico: Army Cadet Ashleigh Begay, Army Cadet Trenton Dean and Air Force 2nd Lt. Sean Fattor. The interns took advantage of an opportunity to meet with Lutton at a brown bag lunch on June 27.

“Pursuing a career in the military is one of the most admirable decisions a young person can make,” Lutton said. “You receive unparalleled training and opportunities to challenge yourself as a person and a leader. Not only have you each made the decision to serve the nation as officers, but you have further distinguished yourselves through academic and professional rigor by participating in this program.”

“My greatest aspiration is to become an officer in the Army after my graduation,” Begay noted in her application essay. “If I could combine the joy I find in chemistry with … military service, that would be the most ideal career path.” Begay got her wish by being placed at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies where she works on the synthesis and characterization of novel nanomaterials.

Nuclear weapon power source development was a perfect placement for Dean. “I would love to specialize in weapon test and development,” Dean wrote. “My interests lie specifically in mechanical vibrations, thermodynamics and rocketry.” A series of upper-level engineering classes and an internship in the private sector fueled his fascination. Dean hopes to continue developing his engineering knowledge and strengthening his leadership skills through the program.

“I have always been fascinated by all things technical and scientific since I was a child. Experimenting and discovering how different objects or systems operate has always been an interest of mine,” Fattor wrote. With assignments such as studying waveforms and creating software to determine uncertainty, nuclear weapon surveillance is just the sort of work that will appeal to Fattor’s long-standing interest.