INL to Inspire Next Generation of Multicultural Leaders in STEM

IDAHO FALLS — On Thursday, April 19, Idaho National Laboratory will host dozens of minority, first-generation, and/or underserved high school students from throughout southeast Idaho at INL Multicultural Leaders in STEM Day, an event designed to inspire the future workforce. Kickoff will begin at 9 a.m., and keynote speakers and tours will conclude at 3 p.m.

In 2014, a nationwide initiative was created to address persistent opportunity gaps disadvantaged youth face, and to ensure all young people could reach their full potential. In an effort to maintain this outreach, INL K-12 STEM will be partnering with the TRiO organization to host nearly 100 young, multicultural leaders within the state of Idaho. The event’s goal is to break down stereotypes about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and connect the students with opportunities, role models and mentors to instill a passion for STEM.

“The scientific industry is challenged with building an inclusive talent pipeline for the future,” said Toni Carter, INL inclusion and diversity strategy director. “Therefore, INL is investing resources into addressing this challenge through initiatives like Multicultural Leaders in STEM Day. Our main goal is to help future STEM leaders maximize every ounce of potential inside of them. We're confident they are part of helping organizations like ours to generate next-generation energy solutions, because inclusive diversity drives and fuels innovation. We also want them to know that we believe in them. Anything they want is possible, they just have to do the work.”

INL sees the importance of reaching out to students in towns small and large, and of all backgrounds and origins, so an interest in STEM subjects can be sparked early. With diverse backgrounds comes diverse thought and innovation, which the lab needs in its future workforce.

Students will participate in a full day of hands-on activities and laboratory tours, interact with research scientists, engineers and technicians, and learn about STEM careers, internships and opportunities for postsecondary education. INL Multicultural Leaders in STEM Day will engage students in STEM activities relevant to the mission of INL and related to the curriculum they are learning in school.

“Too often, students, parents and teachers are not aware of the opportunities available in their own backyard,” said Amy Lientz, INL’s director of Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Deployment. “In the end, this type of event builds interest in STEM careers and helps to grow our talent pipeline, enabling a sustainable future workforce.”

This year’s event will be held at the Energy Innovation Laboratory (EIL) in Idaho Falls, and in several other INL facilities.