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MIT Begins New Washington Internship Program

By Konstantina Drakouli

Ten undergraduates will spend two months in Washington, D.C. this summer as interns in the first MIT Washington Summer Internship Program.

The students will have the opportunity to apply their technical backgrounds to issues of public policy that directly relate to their scientific fields, according to Professor of Political Science Charles Stewart III, administrator of the program.

Complementing these internships at government and private agencies are a trip to Washington over spring break and a 9-unit seminar on the policy-making process, which is offered during the late spring and early fall.

The program will serve as an excellent source of experience in technical policy, Stewart said.

Students work on policy issues related to their majors, such as telecommunications or copyright law for electrical engineering and computer science majors, environmental impact of transportation for civil engineering majors, or health issues for biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering majors.

The Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences are among the agencies interested in working with MIT students, according to a pamphlet on the program.

"Washington, the Mecca' for political science students, can also provide technical students with marketable skills which will differentiate them from the rest of the pool" when finding a job, said Alan E. Coronado '96, who is studying mechanical engineering.

The program is also an opportunity for participants to build contacts with people at the companies or agencies, and through them open future career paths, Stewart said. Many companies proceed to hire based on the impression created by the intern during the internship.

Participants will live at Georgetown University and receive a $2,200 stipend to cover expenses, Stewart said. The policy experience, job contacts, and stipend make the program as attractive as a summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program project, he said.

Undergraduates who will be enrolled next fall are eligible for the program and can apply until Feb. 7. So far, more than 30 students have expressed interest in filling the 10 available spots this year, Stewart said. Preference will be given to students with substantial course work in a technical area, he said.

Stewart said he hopes the program will attract more students so that it can be as successful as the MIT Japan Program.