ConvEne: Program Components

The ConvEne program consists of 5 major components:

  1. Coursework
  2. Research Internships in Industry and National Labs
  3. International Partner Labs and Internships
  4. Outreach Activities
  5. Mentoring undergraduates


Fellows take a group of required courses that have been designed to facilitate student comprehension of solar energy conversion, energy and catalysis, environmental policy and economics.   These courses are: (1) Organic Semiconducting materials for Solar Energy Conversion (MATRL 273B), (2) Energy and Catalysis; and one of the following: (1) Environmental Policy Analysis (ESM 243), (2) Cost-Benefit Analysis and Nonmarket Valuation (ESM 245), or (3) Introduction to Environmental Policy Analysis (ESM 251). In addition, fellows are required to take one Business and Management course designed to assist students in new product development processes, tools, techniques and organizational structures. Fellows choose from one of the following: (1) New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship (ENGR 285B), (2) Business Planning for New Technology Ventures (ENGR 285C), or (3) New Product Development (ENGR 285D). Finally, fellows are required to take the Ethics in Academic and Industrial Research course.

Research Internships in Industry and National Labs

The goals of the internship are to provide a research experience complementary to each student's core area of study, develop and enhance collaborations between the participating research groups, build students' teamwork and networking skills and help them make informed career choices after obtaining their degrees. To supplement the breadth of experience of the IGERT program, fellows spend approximately two months of their first summer as an intern either in industry or in one of the National Laboratories where energy-related work is actively pursued. The ConvEne PIs and advisors have strong links to many companies and laboratories through research collaborations and work closely with the fellow to advise them on the best internship choice to ensure that the internship experiences meets the training goals.

International Partner Labs and Internships

During the second summer of the IGERT program, fellows spend at least one month as an intern in an international laboratory. Placements are facilitated by the close connections between the ConvEne PIs and advisors with the ICMR and PIRE programs at UCSB. The ICMR provides an international forum for scientists and programs ranging from thematic Summer Schools to Overseas Workshops. The goal of UCSB's PIRE is to contribute to the training of new generation of PhDs in the area of electron chemistry and catalysis at interfaces by providing them with a global experience of multidisciplinary research. The program provides opportunities to experience research in China first-hand.

Outreach Activities

ConvEne fellows participate in highly successful outreach efforts that engage elementary teachers, and students and their parents. In partnership with the Materials Research Laboratory Education Department, fellows participate in outreach activities to middle schools and hone their technical, interpersonal, leadership and communication skills. The MRL's outreach program, It's A Material World, provides hands-on activities on Materials Science related topics to elementary schools science nights in the local Santa Barbara area. Trainees develop activity modules that illustrate aspects of energy conversion appropriate for elementary students (K-6) that can be included in the It's a Material World program, and can be implemented in the classroom and made widely available on the Web.

Mentoring undergraduates

During one summer or one quarter of the academic year of the ConvEne program, fellows mentor an undergraduate who is participating in one of several undergraduate internship programs at the MRL (e.g. RISE, CISEI, CAMP, PREM). The mentorship experience serves to provide fellows with important supervisory (leadership) and teamwork skills.

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