Former NETL participant becomes mentor to influence the next generation of engineers Meet Clint Bedick

Clinton “Clint” Bedick has always had an interest in building, creation and knowing how things work. As a child, Bedick played with LEGO but did not always follow the given build instructions. He attributes his own LEGO creations as one of the many reasons he chose a STEM career as an adult.

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Bedick uses his experience from being a NETL participant to curate experiences for participants he now mentors.

In high school, Bedick became interested in computer programming, where he first learned to code in C++, a cross-platform language that can be used to create high-performance applications. The interest in computer programming led him to pursue college-level computer science courses during his senior year of high school. Bedick attended West Virginia University as an engineering major.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Bedick participated as a summer intern for the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, W.V. NETL offers opportunities to participate in energy-related research. Its mission is to strengthen our nation’s security, to improve our nation’s environment, and to advance energy options that fuel our nation’s economy.

During his internship, Bedick gained an understanding of what the functions of scientists and engineers are in a national lab.

“I was exposed to new software and got a chance to apply much of what I learned in school,” he said.

In his final year as an undergraduate student, Bedick participated in the Challenge X hybrid vehicle competition, which focuses on the crossover to sustainable mobility. During the competition, Bedick met Nigel Clark who he credits as being very influential in his development as an engineer. Clark took Bedick on as a direct Ph.D. student within the West Virginia University Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions.

“I learned a lot in grad school and from Nigel,” said Bedick, “In particular, I always admired the way he would get hands-on and could not only think up an idea but could implement it himself. He also had one heck of a car collection!”

Following his doctoral degree from West Virginia University, Bedick participated in a second ORISE opportunity at NETL in Morgantown, W.V. During his post-doctoral fellowship, he was able to use cutting-edge equipment to study oxy-fuel flames. Bedick explained that this experience was really formative and influenced him to shift his interests away from an automotive career path to a national lab researcher path.

Currently, Bedick is a Research Engineer and ORISE mentor at the NETL in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“I decided to become a mentor as a way to give back and influence the next generation of engineers. A major point for me is making sure they have an exciting experience.”

He further explained that he strives to make sure students he mentors never feel bored, but instead feel what they participate in matters.

Bedick oversees the Fundamental Combustion Laboratory at NETL Pittsburgh, where participants have the opportunity to learn about combustion fundamentals, detonations, plasmas, and work on sensors and diagnostics for each.  

Bedick shared that his favorite part of being a mentor is being able to give a participant the resources and knowledge to succeed in an area they are passionate about. When asked what the most rewarding part of being a mentor is, he responded: “Seeing the evolution of a participant from when they start their appointment, to when they leave the program and are an expert in their area of research. In particular, if they go on to get a job in this industry as a result of their research experience.”

Bedick recommends ORISE participation programs and suggests that applicants make sure that the specific research project aligns with their personal interests, because that is how they will get the most out of the program.

The NETL programs are administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ORISE is managed for DOE by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).