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Join us from noon to 3 p.m. ET Wednesday, November 13, 2019, for the ORISE Virtual Recruitment Fair for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Programs. You will have the opportunity to learn more about the Marine and Hydrokinetics Graduate Student Research Program and talk to mentors with the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO). Registration information for the ORISE Virtual Recruitment Fair will be available here starting October 28, 2019. If you have questions, please contact DOE-RPP@orise.orau.gov.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) conducts early-stage research and development (R&D) to strengthen the body of scientific and engineering knowledge supporting industry efforts to develop new technologies that increase U.S. hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) generation.

What will I be doing?

As a participant in the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program, you will conduct research at both your academic institution and at an external hosting facility carrying out research in MHK and supporting the research plan you submit at the time of application. Hosting facility may be a government research facility, industry site (including but not limited to technology developers), universities, or other facility approved by WPTO as a host facility.  You will spend a minimum of 6 months at the host facility.

Learn more about what is required for your proposed research plan in application components.

Why should I apply?

As an intern in the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program, you will

  • Advance your doctoral thesis.
  • Enhance your education and training in water power technologies fields.
  • Increase your marketability.
  • Gain access to top scientists and state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Gain insight into research and career opportunities through your internship experiences.
  • Collaborate and learn from experts researching, developing, and testing emerging technologies.

You will enhance your education and training in WPTO-MHK related fields, increase your marketability in these disciplines, and learn about careers in marine energy research. Your mentor may also be a resource for your next career step!

  • Increase your marketability in technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves and tides.

  • Learn the inner workings of federal agencies in your field and network with top scientists.

  • Gain insight into research and career opportunities while utilizing state-of-the-art equipment to accomplish research goals.

Appointment Details

  • Eligibility

    In order to qualify for a  WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program appointment, you must meet all outlined criteria for eligibility. Read more to learn about eligibility requirements.

    To be considered you must meet all outlined criteria for eligibility.

    • Be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
    • Be enrolled as a full-time doctoral graduate student at a qualified program requiring a research thesis/dissertation at an accredited U.S. college or university during the Fall 2019 term.
    • Be conducting research in an area aligned with WPTO-MHK priority research areas.
    • Have a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.00 or higher on a 4.00 scale.
    • Be available to conduct research at the hosting facility for at least six months.
  • Application Selection

    Applications will be reviewed for eligibility and compliance before moving forward to the merit review and final selection.

    • Application reviews are based on scientific and/or technical merit, relevance to WPTO-MHK Priorities, and support of the hosting facility. Criteria includes:
      • Academic performance
      • Potential for success in research
      • Background, skills and experience to conduct proposed research
      • Understanding of scientific and technical challenges in proposed research plan
      • Method and approach for proposed research plan
      • Potential for significant contribution to thesis research
      • Research relevance to WPTO-MHK priorities
      • Potential for broadening investigation and innovation in WPTO-MHK problems and solutions
    • Eligible applications will receive an external merit review by subject matter experts.
    • WPTO-MHK makes final selections based on reviewer results and notifies ORISE.
    • ORISE will notify the applicants of the selection decisions.
  • Timeline

    This internship is open for applications during the fall of each year. 

    2020 Application Year

    • Application Open

      Oct-Nov 2019
    • Application Closes

      Dec 2019
    • Selection Made and Announced

      Mar 2020
    • Expected Start Date

      Jun 2020


  • Appointment Information

    Appointments will be administered by ORISE. This section outlines all of the benefits you will receive as part of the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program and the conditions of the appointment.

    As a participant in the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program, you will receive:

    • Stipend
    • Health Insurance supplement
    • Limited reimbursement for transportation expenses for travel to/from the external hosting facility (if eligible)
    • Education and Research Support Allowance
    • Limited Tuition Reimbursement

    • Appointment Period: You will be responsible for coordinating the appointment start and end dates with your hosting facility. Normally, appointment periods will be for 12 months. Appointment periods can be less than twelve months as long as you spend at least six months at your hosting facility.
    • Commitment: Appointments may not be deferred. An appointment involves a full-time commitment at the hosting facility, in residence for at least six months. You must also maintain full-time enrollment at your academic institution during the appointment period, including time at the hosting facility.
    • Hosting Facility: Appointments are subject to completion of the arrangements with your hosting facility.
    • Expectations:
      • As a participant in the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program, you are expected to
        • Conduct research and maintain a full-time schedule away from your academic institution at the WPTO-MHK-approved facility for at least six months of the appointment. You must avoid obligations that may interrupt your research project during the appointment.
        • Adhere to ethical guidelines set forth by DOE.
        • Perform professionally, demonstrate integrity and good judgment, and complete all research project deliverables as identified in your research plan and by the hosting facility.
    • Deliverables: Participants are required to write a final report about their experience and complete an online feedback form to help assess the effectiveness of the program.
  • Nature of Appointment

    This program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

    • ORISE is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) institute managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) through a contract between ORAU and DOE.
    • You will be considered a program participant and will not enter into an employee/employer relationship with ORISE, ORAU, DOE, or hosting facility.

Application Components

Your application should consist of the following components:

  • Complete Zintellect Profile
  • Proposed Research Project including Research Plan
    • The research plan should be a maximum of two pages, including any citations, and should include the following:
      • Summary of your motivation for the research
      • Methods that will be employed
      • Role of your academic institution and your host facility in furthering your research plan
      • Expected outcomes
      • Relevance to the WPTO mission and marine and hydrokinetic generation
      • Relation of the proposed research to your doctoral thesis
  • Contact information for your Advisor at your Academic Institution, including Name, Email, Phone Number, College/University, Department, and Position Title
  • Contact information for your proposed Mentor at your External Hosting Facility, including Name, Email, Phone Number, Facility Name, Department/Division, and Position Title. Facility may not be your own academic institution.
  • Letter of Support from your proposed mentor
    • The letter must demonstrate knowledge of and concurrence with your proposed research plan and agreement to host you at their facility for a minimum of 6 months if you are accepted into the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program.


  • Records showing enrollment during the 2019 Fall term in a Ph.D. program requiring thesis/dissertation. Proof may include one of the following:
    • Letter from authorized academic department official or other document issued/authorized by the academic institution confirming your enrollment. Letter or document must include your name and official university markings such as the registrar’s signature, university logo or stamp, letterhead or watermark, signature of the authorized official, etc.
    • Copy of the transcript or academic record issued by the Registrar’s Office including official university markings such as the registrar’s signature, university logo or stamp, letterhead or watermark, etc.  Transcript must include courses in progress during the 2019 fall term.
  • Resume (2 page limit)
  • Two (2) relevant letters of recommendation
    • These letters should address your academic record and potential for success in the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program, as indicated by demonstrated intellectual merit, communication, and teamwork skills.
    • You must provide one letter from your current academic advisor and the other from a person of your choice. The mentor at your proposed external hosting facility may provide a letter of recommendation that is separate from their letter of support.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section includes frequently asked questions about the WPTO-MHK Graduate Student Research Program.

  • Applications will be accepted between October and November, with application period closing in December. Selections will be made by March, and participants are expected to start their appointment period in June. There are several steps that must be completed before you can receive an appointment letter.

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident to participate in the program.

  • You must be enrolled as a full-time doctoral graduate student at a qualified program requiring a research thesis/dissertation at an accredited U.S. college or university. If you are participating in an exchange program and attending a foreign institution, you must provide proof that you are enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university during the Fall 2019 term.

  • Records are required showing current enrollment in a Ph.D. program requiring thesis/dissertation. Unofficial transcripts or copies of the student academic records provided by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institutional systems may be submitted. Transcripts or academic records must include courses in progress during the 2019 Fall term. If your transcripts or academic records do not list the thesis/dissertation requirement, then you must provide separate documentation.

    Alternatively, a letter from authorized academic department official or other document issued/authorized by the academic institution confirming your enrollment may be submitted. Letter or document must include your name and official university markings such as the registrar’s signature, university logo or stamp, letterhead or watermark, signature of the authorized official, etc. and confirmation that you are enrolled in a Ph.D. program requiring thesis or dissertation.

  • ORISE staff will prescreen applications to ensure that all required materials have been received and that you meet all qualifications for participation in the program. Eligible applications are then reviewed by independent subject matter experts. Results from reviewers are then shared with WPTO-MHK, who makes final selections and notifies ORISE. ORISE will notify you if you are selected for the program.

  • The minimum appointment period for this program is 6 months at the identified hosting facility.

  • It is your responsibility to identify and secure a hosting facility and mentor currently conducting or directing research in an area of importance to WPTO-MHK. For more information about WPTO-MHK, visit https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/water-power-technologies-office.

  • WPTO-MHK is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides. For more information about WPTO-MHK priorities, visit https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/about-water-power-technologies-office-WPTO-MHK.

  • Please ensure that all of the necessary application materials have been received and that you have the necessary educational qualifications. Successful applicants will have a research plan that is well thought out and clearly aligns with WPTO-MHK areas of importance as well as a strong commitment from their mentor and hosting institution.

  • You, along with your mentor at the hosting institution, will be responsible for any changes made to the research plan. Changes to your research plan should be approved by the hosting institution mentor and should not fall outside areas of importance to WPTO-MHK. Final approval and acceptance of the change in research plan must come from WPTO-MHK.

  • Two recommendations are required. At least one recommendation must be from your Academic Advisor at your home institution. You should obtain your other recommendation from a person who is familiar with your educational and professional qualifications.

  • No. You must be enrolled as a full-time doctoral graduate student at a qualified program requiring a research thesis/dissertation at an accredited U.S. college or university.

  • If your address is outside a radius of 50 miles one way from your appointment location, you will be reimbursed for limited inbound transportation expenses.

  • Reasonable accommodations can be made if you intend to travel prior to the start of your appointment. These are handled on a case by case basis.

  • We do not advise you to do this. Doing so may result in non-reimbursable expenses. Your appointment is not official until you formally accept the appointment offer.

  • You may apply for and be eligible to participate in different ORISE programs during your graduate studies.

  • Participants will receive a stipend payment once a month in the amount of $2,950.00.

    To be on appointment, participants are required to have continuous coverage under a health insurance plan and provide proof of coverage to ORISE. A stipend supplement will be provided to offset the cost of a health insurance plan up to $1,737.94/month. This stipend supplement will be based on monthly out-of-pocket health insurance premium expenses up to the approved amount upon receipt of the appropriate documentation.

Questions? Contact Us

General Questions/Information

DOE-RPP@orise.orau.gov