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Department of Energy Budgets $17.3M for Higher Ed Research

Under new Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced funding for college students to get involved with national research projects in areas such as hydrogen production and 5G solutions.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaking in front of a small microphone.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images/TNS)
Less than four months into the Biden administration, U.S. schools have already seen a slew of major federal funding announcements. In early March, passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earmarked $128.5 billion for K-12 schools, $39.6 billion for higher education and over $7.5 billion for the E-rate program, which funds Internet connectivity and devices for schools and libraries. In late March, the American Jobs Plan proposed $100 billion for school construction and modernization. In early April, the Biden administration proposed a $1.5 trillion annual budget that would increase funding for the Department of Education by more than 40 percent. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set aside $10.5 million for school buses in 40 states.

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its contribution to higher education in the form of $17.3 million for internships and research projects, along with access to DOE’s National Laboratories. According to a news release, the funding includes $11.7 million from DOE’s Office of Science and $5.6 million from its Office of Fossil Energy, earmarked for the following:

  • Internships for 804 undergraduate and 90 community college students, 20 percent of whom come from minority-serving institutions, who will work on research and technology projects with scientists and engineers at DOE National Laboratories.
  • Research opportunities for 66 college and university faculty members and 30 students representing 57 institutions, including 26 minority-serving institutions, to collaborate with National Lab staff this summer on projects of mutual interest.
  • 11 university-led projects, two of which are at historically Black institutions, in areas like hydrogen production, improving water consumption, 5G wireless solutions and supply chain challenges for high-temperature materials.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a public statement that allocating resources to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and to diverse institutions, is essential for technical innovation.

“By investing in STEM students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, we can ignite the most creative and innovative ideas to solve our biggest problems and maximize our competitiveness,” she said. “DOE and the Biden administration are committed to nurturing a skilled workforce that looks like America, and these awards will help us prepare rising stars everywhere to dream up the very best solutions for our nation and our people.”