EERE Robotics alumnus gained life-long skills, hopes to give back one day
When Steven Jarrett was young, he loved to play with interactive toys such as K’NEX, Bionicles, LEGO and anything else he could use to build. He liked putting things together and figuring out solutions to mechanical problems. In the 11th grade, Jarrett was excited to learn that a robotics team would be created at his school. After joining the team, Jarrett quickly developed a fondness for tackling the challenges of the competition and coming up with solutions. This excitement for robotics and problem solving led Jarrett to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science from Utah State University.
Jarrett is an alumnus of the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) Robotics Internship Program. The Robotics Internship Program is an opportunity for college students and recent graduates to intern with public agencies and private companies for the continued development of the robotics technical and engineering workforce.
Jarrett heard about the EERE Robotics program from his academic advisor at Utah State University. “Applying for the internship was my chance to begin the career I hoped for,” Jarrett said. He noted that as he reviewed the application, he believed that the program would be enjoyable, but it was the valuable potential experience that captured his attention. Jarrett knew that he wanted to have a career in the field of robotics, but needed relevant experience to get started. The EERE Robotics Internship was able to help him achieve this goal.
During his internship, Jarrett was a part of the Structural Macromolecular Biology (SMB) group at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Within this group, he was able to collaborate remotely with his peers and field experts to gain additional knowledge about the robotics field.
Under the guidance of his mentor, Aina Cohen, Jarrett’s main research goal was to complete the design of an ultraviolet fluorescence microscope which would be used to locate protein crystals within samples on the beamlines at SSRL. Previous interns within the program had already begun the process of designing the working microscope, but Jarrett was challenged with reviewing and improving upon their design. Jarrett did this through increasing the field of view, getting a brighter image of the sample and adjusting the internal design of the device to be more mechanically robust.
Jarrett gained skills in communication, writing, optics and mechanical design during his internship. Learning about collaboration may be the most important skill he learned, though.
“I’m finding that there is still more to learn about working with others that I need to understand to be successful, so every little bit of experience I got working with others was well worth it to help me prepare for my career,” said Jarrett.
Although Jarrett primarily applied to the program with the intent to gain experience in robotics, he appreciates the opportunity to learn about other fields of research. “It was amazing to me to learn from world-class scientists about the work they do at SLAC. I remember sitting and watching one of the scientists practice a presentation on his research intended for others in his field and realizing that he was solving a mechanical problem – something I could relate with!” he shared.
Jarrett recommends the EERE Robotics Internship Program and is grateful for his research opportunity in an environment where learning was encouraged. After completing his internship, Jarrett had goals of completing his thesis and gaining a full-time role in the field of robotics and automation. “I am grateful to say that both of those goals have happened!” he reported. Moving forward, Jarrett hopes to help those around him in family, career, church and community. Because of what he has been given, he hopes to also give to others.
The EERE Energy Storage Internship Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and administered through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). ORISE is managed for DOE by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).