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Volkswagen Undergraduate Internships
at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars Program introduces top students to science behind auto industry

Members of the 2010 class of the Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars program

Kneeling alongside the newly released 2011 Volkswagen Jetta at the only VW plant in the United States (located in Chattanooga, Tenn.) are VW Distinguished Scholars Program interns Joshua Solomon (left) and Levon Brassfield (right). Pictured L to R standing, are interns John Higgins, Carolyn Hoagland, Jennifer Lewis, Chad Marshall, Susan Reid, Brian Doll, Robert Singleton, Megan Schutt and Sarah Newman.

The Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars Program is a research internship administered for Volkswagen Group of America by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) on behalf of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The program is a summer internship that awards students with a paid stipend, housing allowance (where applicable), and mileage for one roundtrip to/from the internship site if more than 60 miles from the student’s home. It offers students the opportunity to participate in research for ten full weeks during the summer at ORNL. At the lab, scientific mentors select projects for individual students based on their interests and degree fields. Volkswagen may select some students for an optional internship in the second summer to participate in research projects at the new Volkswagen production facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. Current program participants will be notified at the end of their first summer regarding the following summer’s opportunities.

Eligible applicants must be undergraduate juniors/seniors or graduate students (who have not yet finished coursework) with a GPA of 3.5 or above who are U.S. citizens majoring in any science, technology, engineering or math field with an interest in the automotive sector and who are attending one of the following universities: Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, the University of Memphis, or the University of Tennessee in either Knoxville or Chattanooga.

Participants are selected based on application materials, major discipline, academic excellence, motivation, and enthusiasm for automotive-related science and technology. The program is open to any eligible student studying a science, technology, engineering or math discipline with an interest in the automotive industry. Examples of research projects interns would be assigned to include low-cost carbon fiber, battery research and development, biofuels, engines and emissions, intelligent transportation systems, and sustainable manufacturing.

Through the internship, students have the opportunity to tour the plant, including walking the vehicle production lines. Participants are also treated to a unique behind-the-scenes experience that includes a tour of the plant’s state-of-the-art training facility.

Scott Wilson, media and community relations for VW Group of America, shared how pleased the company was with the program. “Of all the investments we’ve made,” he said, “this is by far the most successful for the students involved, and that makes it successful for us because it’s about education and the students.”

The Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars Program is part of the Volkswagen Group of America’s “Partners in Education” program, which is a 5-year, $5.28 million dollar initiative for educational enrichment and workforce training in the state of Tennessee.