News Archives

  • UNM
  • >Home
  • >News
  • >2023
  • >April
  • >Engineering undergrad eager to gain research experience through NREL internship

Engineering undergrad eager to gain research experience through NREL internship

April 25, 2023 - by Kim Delker

During his time at The University of New Mexico, Sean Allen has already connected with several of the departments in the School of Engineering, which has broadened his knowledge base. And now he’s on the verge of gaining even more skills and experience, having been selected for a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) internship.

photo: Sean Allen
Sean Allen

Allen, a junior in electrical engineering, will begin the NREL Student Training in Applied Research (STAR) Undergraduate Internship Program on May 22, where he will spend 10 weeks in Golden, Colo., getting hands-on experience in materials-focused research with semiconductors.

After completing the summer internship, he will work with Nathan Jackson, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, in his research during the next year.

The NREL STAR program offers undergraduate students and faculty at minority-serving institutions hands-on experience with clean energy research over the course of a year.

He said he learned of the internship opportunity after receiving an email from the Engineering Student Success Center. Although he had never worked with Jackson, the internship sounded interesting to him, so “on a whim” he decided to apply.

Allen said he will research novel ternary nitride semiconductors for microelectronics. He said his experimental-focused research will be an interesting complement to Jackson’s theory-based research. And it’s also a great way to put his education into practice.

“I will get to learn and understand engineering outside the classroom,” he said.

Allen was born and raised in Albuquerque, graduating from La Cueva High School. Although UNM was “the natural choice” for him because he could live at home and save money, his exact trajectory was less certain. He considered majoring in civil engineering but instead opted for a nuclear engineering major, then later changed into electrical engineering. Now with this internship, he will be working with a professor in yet another area — mechanical — and he is looking forward to expanding his horizons.

Allen said he is interested in eventually attending graduate school and pursuing a research and development career either at a national lab or at a university.

“It’s an awesome opportunity,” he said. “I’m pretty excited for the challenge. There is so much to learn.”