A team of 25 Virginia Tech faculty and graduate students recently traveled to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to further collaborations between Virginia Tech and ORNL and provide faculty with a better understanding of ORNL capabilities and research interests.

The visit, organized by the Office of Learning Systems Innovation and Effectiveness (LSIE) and the Economical and Sustainable Materials Strategic Growth Area, was highlighted by nine breakout sessions that allowed faculty, students, and ORNL personnel to have focused discussions and tours on specific topical areas.

The Virginia Tech team was welcomed by Moody Altamimi, director for the ORNL’s Office of Research Excellence and several ORNL members. Michelle Buchanan, ORNL’s deputy of science and technology, presented an overview of their facilities and their major science and technology initiatives.

“The partnership with ORNL gives Virginia Tech faculty, researchers, and students an opportunity to interact with some of the world’s leading experts in materials science and some of the best facilities in the world,” said David Clark, professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering. “Through these interactions, we have access to expertise that we would not have otherwise, such as the world’s fastest computer and the Spallation Neutron Source, the world’s most powerful source of neutrons for research.”

The Virginia Tech and ORLN teams talked about how Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students could apply for internships and explore experiential learning opportunities through interdisciplinary collaboration with ORNL.

“ORNL enjoys and values student education,” said Jeremy Busby, division director of the Materials Science and Technology Division at ORNL. “Education experiences result in a good opportunity to get the next generation excited about science topics and gives the students an experience in a national lab setting.”

This most recent visit was a follow up to a joint Virginia Tech-ORNL workshop held in April during which researchers from ORNL came to Virginia Tech and talked with more than 40 faculty on such research areas as nuclear materials and corrosion, energy storage and fuel cells, geochemistry, high temperature materials, clean water, biomass refinery, nanoscience, and thin films.

Virginia Tech is one of a select group of ORNL University Core Partners, a partnership that has been in place for 15 years and offers a variety of collaborative opportunities to faculty and students.

 “ORNL’s vision is to get the students involved in their own research, collect data, and write papers while working with experts at a national lab,” Busby said. “Student internships also give ORNL the opportunity to identify and recruit future employees.

“Virginia Tech has a very strong materials presence across many departments, and future collaborations between ORNL and Virginia Tech are win-win opportunities for both organizations.”

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