Here is what our researchers say about their experience as a mentor:
by Dr. Nachappa (Sami) Gopalsami, Sensors & Instrumentation Section
The mentor-student relationship is a highly rewarding and mutually beneficial one. It is a great opportunity for students to have easy access to the guidance and counsel of NE scientists and engineers, and it is an equally great opportunity for the mentors to get some interesting work done. The key to success is for both to realize that it is a two-way street: the mentor must engage the student and the student must show enthusiasm to learn and engage the mentor back with questions and results. Finally, the mentor must make sure that the student takes necessary training courses and follow ES&H procedures in their work.
Benefits for Student:
- Internship at Argonne is regarded highly in the outside world
- Your mentor is a good reference for many years to come
- The internship in a leading-edge research field is a motivation for higher studies and career development
- The work has a high chance of getting published—a great career booster
Benefits for Mentor:
- The students often think creatively
- The students force the mentor to spend more time on a project or start some things that are new
- The students these days are generally good in programming, data analysis, and computer interfacing of instruments
- Some are very good with “hands on” work
- You have the satisfaction of guiding and motivating young people in their careers
About the Author
Nachappa "Sami" Gopalsami, PhD, is a Senior Electrical Engineer at the Sensors and Instrumentation Section, Nuclear Engineering Division, Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Gopalsami is a lead researcher on the THz sensor project and winner of two R&D 100 Awards. In 2006 he was awarded with an Outstanding Mentor Award by the DOE Office of Science Undergraduate Research Programs.
Benefits of the Mentorship Program
by Dr. Richard B. Vilim, Plant Analysis & Diagnostics Section
Like myself, many Argonne engineers and scientists view the mentorship program as benefiting both the laboratory and the student.
For the student it is an opportunity to apply knowledge that up to the present point in their career has been largely textbook bound. Their analysis tools are sharp and ready and they are eager for the opportunity to put them to work crafting a unique solution to a design problem, shedding light on the inner workings of an engineering process, or extending capabilities for modeling by computer simulation.
I remember as an undergraduate seeking that summer appointment where I could apply what for me at the time were new and exciting ways for understanding and modeling the physical world. And then there was the added factor, something along the lines of ”... and you mean they will actually pay me to do this?" Often a student completes a mentorship position with a paper or patent to his credit.
Argonne engineers and scientists benefit from the help students provide in advancing research at the laboratory and in knowing that they are training the next generation of engineers and scientists who will solve the energy challenges of the future.
About the Author
Richard B. Vilim, PhD, is a Nuclear Engineer in the Plant Analysis & Diagnostics Section,
Nuclear Engineering Division, Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Vilim is responsible for
development of models, algorithms, and methods for solving current research problems
in advanced nuclear energy and radiation systems. The breadth of his work experience
is typical of that found at a large multi-disciplinary laboratory and spans a wide array
of applications. It includes signal processing methods for tracking of nuclear materials,
experimental methods for measurement of kinetics parameters in critical core configurations,
stochastic parameter estimation for predicting nuclear reactor safety behavior, fault
detection and diagnosis in thermo-fluid systems, development of fault-tolerant sensor
systems for improving nuclear plant reliability, and process optimization for nuclear-hydrogen
systems. He maintains a laboratory in collaboration with co-researchers for the investigation
of fundamental phenomena related to radiation detector behavior and for performance testing
of advanced integrated radiation-sensing systems. He is presently the principal investigator
on three Department of Energy projects. He has eight US patents granted or pending and
over one hundred publications. Dr. Vilim received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from