Student Intern - Concentrated Solar Technologies R&D

Position Details

Organization: Sandia National Laboratory Department: Concentrated Solar Technologies Department
Level: Graduate Internship Link


Sandia National Laboratories is the nation's premier science and engineering lab for national security and technology innovation. They are a world-class team of scientists, engineers, technologists, post docs, and visiting researchers all focused on cutting-edge technology, ranging from homeland defense, global security, biotechnology, and environmental preservation to energy and combustion research, computer security, and nuclear defense.

Sandia National Laboratories is a world leader in the development of renewable energy systems. Their Concentrated Solar Technologies Department located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, develops Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems in partnership with DOE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and industry to facilitate the successful development and market deployment of utility scale solar electric and sustainable solar fuels.


Performs entry to mid-level work within a research and development, science and engineering environment working in conjunction with Sandia staff on projects that involve applying integrated technical judgment which requires using the scientific method to recognize and formulate problems, to collect data through observation and experimentation, and to formulate and test hypotheses to anticipate, innovate, and deliver solutions to Sandia National Laboratories missions.  Supports work in the fundamentals of science and engineering while applying an understanding of engineering and scientific principles. Assist in the creation and application of scientific theories and laws and engineering methods used within scientific and engineering disciplines to develop or demonstrate new designs, concepts, materials, machines, products, processes, or systems.

Job assignments are focused in the area of Research and Development (R&D), and will vary based upon organization, discipline preference, and specific job requirements as defined in the job specification.

Duties may include working collaboratively with R&D staff with developmental research, analysis of technology and engineering options, project design, testing, formulating conclusions, data collection, and analyzing experimental data.



They are seeking a graduate student intern to assist with model design, optimization and analysis for thermal-fluid applications related to high-temperature concentrating solar power (CSP) parabolic-trough receivers as well as for gas-solid falling-particle receivers. The research performed here will facilitate the development of novel metamaterials based linear trough systems. This work may also include heat transfer/thermodynamic analysis of supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle systems, which may include materials-fatigue investigations, as well as novel thermal analysis of high-temperature falling particles. In addition the student will support computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) mechanical stress analysis for two novel heliostat designs. This work will be performed using ANSYS Fluent, ANSYS Mechanical and SolidWorks software packages. This work will support model validation work at the NSTTF solar furnace and at the solar tower, where a background in thermal-fluids instrumentation is strongly desired. The student will be expected to support analytical documentation and reporting of the work performed. Understanding and adherence to applicable Sandia National laboratories ES&H requirements and guidelines will be important for this position.

  • Demonstrated research aptitude in one or more of the following scientific and engineering disciplines: heat transfer; thermodynamics; fluid mechanics and computational fluid dynamics; advanced materials; system design and analysis, including computer programming and modeling/simulation; optics; thermal power cycles and turbomachinery; finite element (structural) analysis; and mechanical design expertise.
  • Be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering or related field.
  • Be proficient in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program such as SolidWorks.
  • Be proficient with CFD/FEA Analysis.
  • Be proficient in ANSYS Fluent Software.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in heat transfer and thermodynamics.   
  • Be proficient in basic Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel and Power Point) and SharePoint
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work in teams and independently.
  • Demonstrate capability of working with their hands, be proficient with hand tools, and be able to work outside. Mechanically inclined candidates would be ideal.
  • It is essential that the successful candidate be reliable and responsible in performing the assigned work.
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a U.S. Department of Energy security clearance.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities

  • Demonstrated knowledge of technical principles and processes.
  • Understanding of and demonstrated use a variety of research tools.
  • Demonstrated oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to contribute in a team environment.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of project management.
  • Extensive knowledge of a suite of software, including Microsoft Office.


  • Official acceptance into an accredited university's graduate program with full-time enrollment (typically 9 credit hours)
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5/4.0,
  • The ability to work up to 40 hours per week during the summer.
  • U.S. citizenship.


  • Experience with thermal-fluid experimental model validation and instrumentation.
  • Experience with mechanical-stress experimental model validation and instrumentation.
  • Has a working understanding of optics related to solar energy collection.
  • Ability to work on multiple projects with an underlying common theme, but different deadlines.