Students preparing to complete a capstone project or a senior thesis, or those looking for additional research experience, may want to pursue a summer research assistantship or internship outside of BYU. Be alert! If you are looking for research-intensive summer internships, December, January, and early February are traditionally the time to apply (March may be too late).
There are three main types of summer research programs/internships available outside BYU: government, university, and industry-sponsored programs.
Unfortunately no one seems to have a complete database of physics-related internships, but here are a few useful websites that provide some internships lists. Google may also be of assistance for you in searching for other opportunities.
- http://www.aps.org/careers/employment/internships.cfm - the internships & fellowships page of the American Physical Society
- http://jobs.spsnational.org/jobs?keywords=internship&sort= - the Society of Physics Students jobs page, with "intership" entered into the search field
- https://physics.stanford.edu/undergraduate-program/summer-research/research-outside-stanford - an internship page maintained by Stanford University
- http://astro.physics.uiowa.edu/~clang/reu_info.html - a similar page mainted by University of Iowa
Approval for credit
If you are accepted into a summer intership program and want to turn the experience into a Capstone or Thesis-qualified project, you should coordinate in advance with either Dr. Durfee (Capstone, 492R) or with Dr. Hintz (Thesis, 498R).
Government Labs Internships
US government-sponsored opportunities are handled through the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA). DOD opportunities are managed through the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. DOE, NIST, and NASA, on the other hand, each have separate systems.
Many of our national laboratories and national user facilities are funded through the Department of Energy (DOE). They each sponsor summer intership programs as part of their core missions (i.e. their justification for expensive existence). The national labs are very large facilities (like small cities) and provide opportunities to contribute to teams working at the cutting edge of virtually any area of science and engineering. A few different DOE programs are available through their website, see http://energy.gov/student-programs-and-internships. Typically you specify which DOE facility you are most interested in. If that lab doesn't select you due to a limited number of openings, you may then be selected by one of the other labs in a second-round. These programs usually provide transportation, housing, and a weekly stipend. These applications are due Dec 15!
NIST has two main locations, Boulder CO and Gaithersburg MD, and is much like other national labs except that it is operated by the Department of Commerce. Information on their summer internship program (SURF) can be found at http://www.surf.nist.gov/surf2.htm.
NASA internship programs are listed here http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/education/internships/#.ViUwKiuMFmM and here https://intern.nasa.gov/, with some additional good information (locations and deadlines) being listed here: https://intern.nasa.gov/ossi/web/public/main/index.cfm%3FsolarAction%3Dview%26subAction%3Dcontent%26contentCode%3DHOME_PAGE_INTERNSHIPS.
Fermilab's internships are available here: http://ed.fnal.gov/interns/programs/ipm/.
University research internships
While some major research universities have their own programs, most university-sponsored summer research opportunities are funded and managed through the REU program. See http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/index.jsp for more information. As you browse the list, you will see that BYU Physics & Astronomy is an REU site. Our REU program is managed by Prof. Steve Turley. Some of our own students are funded through this program each summer in addition to those who apply from other places. You can apply to more than one location, but should only apply to sites that you are serious about. While the details are site specific, sites that don't provide transportation or housing usually have higher stipends to compensate. One of our students did an international REU at a university in China.
If you are interested in doing research at BYU, there are many options for funding. As mentioned some students are funded through the REU program; that's typically 40 hours/week for 10 weeks. Many other students get funded through the BYU Physics Department (20 hours/week for both Spring and Summer), see here to apply: http://wmo.byu.edu/ras/. Students can apply for BYU ORCA grants, deadline is towards the end of October. Often professors will have their own research funding which they can use to support undergraduate student researchers. The most important thing for any of these opportunities is to have a professor and a research project lined up, so if you're not in a research group already you should definitely start talking to professors whose research you are most interested in about the possibility of joining their research groups.
Industrial research internships
Industry-sponsored internships are too numerous and diverse to catalog here. If interested, you might simply approach the company or program of interest for more information. Industry internships allow companies to attract new talent and to screen candidates for post-graduation openings. Many companies preferentially hire former interns. It takes some research to locate these opportunities because there is no central place to advertise them. But the pay is generally quite good (on a student scale). Get on the internet and see what you can find.
Links to other internship opportunities
- U. Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (http://www.msi.umn.edu/general/Programs/uip/)
- U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science (http://www.house.gov/science/intern.htm)
- Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory (http://hea-www.harvard.edu/REU/REU.html)
- National Institute of Health (http://www.training.nih.gov/student/sip/index.asp)