Groups of university students had a rare, and possibly daunting, opportunity Thursday, as they presented their findings to the professional scientists and engineers at the Savannah River National Laboratory. The opportunity was not just academic, but also a chance to put their skills and education in the shop window.

On Thursday, the Savannah River National Laboratory played host to students and faculty from nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities in South Carolina and Georgia for a day of activities that included a poster session showing research work from the students and from SRNL researchers.

The student work was performed as part of a grant program from the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. The goal of the DOE program is to promote minority involvement in science and technical research fields.

“We have a tremendous resources here in the region – in our historically black colleges – and I’m making sure that we are tapping into it,” said Dr. Terry Michalske, Laboratory Director of SRNL. “It’s important for me that 10 years from now, 20 years from now that the Savannah River National Laboratory has the best scientists and engineers. And that means I need to find them today.”

On display were many, varied projects, which allowed students to display and discuss their work with the professional scientists and engineers working at SRNL.

“What we are trying to do here is make the right matches,” Michalske said. “To get the interests of the students aligned with the needs of our programs.” The director explained that there are difficulties finding the right person to function in laboratories “when you just mail in an application.”

“You don’t really know how to match them together,” he said.

However, Michalske said that at a DOE meeting last spring he got to see some of the work and interact with some of the young scientists from HBCUs.

“I recognized that there is a lot here that we can use,” he said. “So, this is an effort to make the matches, so we can get beyond that.”

To the day’s event, Michalske said “It’s just what I hoped for; I’ve gotten to know some of the student’s work, and I’m very impressed. I’m confident we are going to find ways to work with the historically black colleges.”

Presentations were displayed and defended by their authors from Clafflin University, South Carolina State University, Paine College, Voorhees College and Benedict College.