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ORNL, UT collaborate to make East Tennessee a technology corridor

Both organizations teamed up to create the SMaRT internship hosted by the Oak Ridge Innovation Institute.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Tennessee teamed up to create the SMaRT internship, designed to bring STEM students to East Tennessee. 

"We're one of the best hidden secrets in the nation, as far as technology, output education and capabilities," said Shawn Campagna, the program's director. 

This is the first year of the internship program. Eighteen students from around the country have applied and been invited to work at one of the University of Tennessee's labs.

The mentors are scientists from UT and ORNL-- one of the benefits to the laboratory's involvement, according to Campagna. 

"It gives us access to equipment, it gives us access to students, it gives us a broader community with more faces that help us welcome more people," said Campagna. "[ORNL's] visibility has brought in a lot of great students."

One of those students is Ariel Scott, who just graduated from Howard University, a Historically Black College and University.

Scott's parents both work in chemistry, a field she's passionate about, as well. 

"The scientific process was installed in me at a very young age," said Scott.

Scott is GEM fellow with the Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, designed to increase the participation of "underrepresented groups" in engineering and science. 

Scott said she plans to get her Ph.D., while serving as an example to other minorities. 

"I can attest, for people from my neighborhood, we're willing to learn," Scott said. "We would do great and be prosperous in these type of fields."

Campagna said he would like to involve more local companies and private citizens in SMaRT internships in the coming years.