November 13, 2019 ·

Recruiting veterans into STEM

On Nov. 11, SLAC celebrated Veteran’s Day with an ice cream social event on the Quad, sponsored by the SLAC Military Community Employee Resource Group (ERG).

Did you know that about 7 percent of the U.S. population are veterans – and that we have a roughly equivalent proportion working at SLAC?

The U.S. military is heavily dependent on technical skills, requiring highly trained personnel in areas like electronics, engineering, and mechanics. Just as important are the real-world skills in discipline, integrity, teamwork, problem solving, and leadership that military veterans hone through their service.

These are capabilities that transfer well into STEM careers, and are highly valued at SLAC.

Opportunities like Veteran’s Day remind us that our veterans are key contributors to the success of the lab, and is a good occasion to get our veterans and other supporters of the military community together.

As the executive sponsor of SLAC’s Military Community ERG, I’m pleased and honored to support efforts to recognize our veterans, and to help identify opportunities for other veterans to join SLAC. Their technical skills and personal attributes make them excellent candidates for career positions to make our science happen.

Reaching veterans looking for careers in STEM
This year, SLAC has been looking at new ways to engage veterans through our recruitment activities. There are a number of initiatives around the country that seek to match veterans with career opportunities in STEM fields; one such initiative is the Vets2STEM program at Colorado School of Mines.

On Nov. 8, I attended the school’s Vets2STEM Technology Expo along with fellow SLAC employees Oscar Wiygul and Enrique Cuellar. The event had representatives from eight Department of Energy (DOE) national labs, as well as the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and gave us a chance to meet with veterans working on their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Colorado universities.

I participated on a lab panel where I talked about SLAC – who we are and what we do – as well as the kinds of careers that can be pursued here. This was followed by a chance to meet with students and coach them on resumes.

Oscar was part of a panel of veterans sharing their experiences and answering questions about career paths – you can read his recap of the event in another blog post.

A little bit about Oscar: He joined SLAC this past year as a cryogenics technical operator on the LCLS-II project. Prior that that, he served in the U.S. Navy for four years as a machinist mate (nuclear) on board the U.S.S. George Washington, forward deployed in Yokosuka, Japan. He has since worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), during which time he obtained a senior reactor operator license to control the 20MW research reactor at the NIST Center for Neutron Research.

SLAC had a booth during the laboratory exhibit portion of the event, where we met with students from local universities and community colleges. Students have a number of ways in which to gain internships at SLAC, such as the DOE’s Community College Internship (CCI), Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) and Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) programs.

Get involved with our ERG
The Military Community ERG is open to all interested parties, not just military veterans. Look out for information about upcoming meetings and events on SLAC Today, and you can always reach out to me or the ERG lead, Angela Woodward (internal link for staff), with any questions.



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