Empowering Students in STEM with The Department of Energy

Written by: Ryan J. Alexander (WVU) & Michaela Alexander (UA)

Supporting a Sustainable Future 

Since 1988, sponsorship by the DOE has been a critical component of AVTCs. For the past 33 years, DOE has helped ensure a sustainable and environmentally responsible transportation future while also providing students support, advice, and the tools necessary for success.

Heather Croteau, Technology Manager from the Energy Efficient Mobility Systems Vehicle Technologies Office at DOE, explained, “DOE began the AVTC series over 30 years ago and it has continued to be a successful program. The program is an excellent opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience with developing and implementing vehicles technologies and prepares them for entering a career in the automotive industry. Many students have gone on to work at DOE, the National Labs, and other sponsor organizations as engineers, communications professionals, and in other relevant fields – this speaks to how well rounded the competition is and the value of the real-world experience the students gain.”

Collaborating to inspire students in STEM

For Year 3 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, WVU, UA, and the DOE collaborated on an event titled ‘Women in STEM,’ where three female professionals in STEM participated in a panel discussion hosted by WVU and UA. The panelists were Danielle Chou, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the DOE, Keerti Kappagantula, Senior Scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and Lei Cheng, Chemist at ANL.

This exclusive panel discussion took place on April 8, and had nearly 50 attendees from various universities. Topics like “imposter syndrome,” navigating the transition from university to career, and different career paths were all discussed during this event.

“Keerti, Lei, and Danielle were extremely personable and engaging,” said Croteau. “It was wonderful how candid they each were about changes and choices during their careers and the advice they had for students relevant and thoughtful. The students seemed to enjoy their discussion and responses.”

DOE has always advocated for pushing the boundaries of sustainability and careers in the STEM field.

“EcoCAR is DOE’s flagship student vehicle competition and as such, we think it’s very important to engage with the teams and students,” said Croteau. “DOE and the National Labs present a lot of opportunities to the students and it’s wonderful when we get to showcase our internal talent and get students excited about potential career paths.”

Did you miss the Women in STEM panel discussion?

You can view the panel here. Also, you can follow our teams on social media @wvu_ecocar and @uaecocar to see updates on our teams’ progress throughout the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge.

Let’s Go Mountaineers and Roll Tide!