Los Alamos National Laboratory

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National Security Education Center


  • Institute Director
    Charles Farrar
    (505) 663-5330
  • UCSD EI Director
    Michael Todd
    (858) 534-5951
  • Institute Office Manager
    Jutta Kayser
    (505) 663-5649

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the summer school just nine weeks long? The duration of the summer school is limited by the funding provided to pay for the mentors’ time.  The schedule of mid-June through the second week in August is based on a compromise between schools that are on a semester system, which typically get out at middle - end of May, and schools on a quarter system that tend to get out later in June.


What will the weather be like? Los Alamos is located an elevation of approx. 7200 ft.  Mornings are bright and sunny, but toward the end of June it will cloud up almost every afternoon with local thunderstorms, as is typical throughout the Rocky Mountains.  High temperatures are typically in the mid 80’s.  It does get cool with temperatures as low as the high 50’s in the evening, particularly after a rain storm. (http://weather.lanl.gov)


Where do we meet the first day? We will meet at the Los Alamos Research Park (4200 Casa Grande Dr.) Suite 300 at 8:00 on the first day. (http://www.la-rp.org/)


How much will I be paid? In lieu of salaries, students will be provided with a fellowship ranging from $7500 to $10,500 depending on academic standing (i.e. junior, senior, 1st-yr grad).


What about housing? Housing during the summer is always an issue because the Lab hires more than 1500 students during the summer.  We have reserved housing for the summer school students.  Upon acceptance into the program and your subsequent confirmation that you will attend, we will contact you regarding housing options.


Will I be reimbursed for travel expenses to and from the school? Yes, the Lab covers your travel cost to and from Los Alamos within certain limits. Reimbursement policies for students are summarized at (http://www.lanl.gov/orgs/cfo/documents/gra_ugs_regs.pdf).


How long is the work day? Typically, the work day will begin at 8:00 AM and go to 5:00 PM.  The mentors will make arrangements to keep the facilities open longer if students feel they need additional time to work on their projects.  Also, the 4th of July is a holiday.


What computer resources will be available during the summer school? Each student will have their own desktop PC with MS Office, Matlab and all the Mathworks toolboxes, a finite element code, and an experimental modal analysis code.  In addition each project group will have a laptop computer for a Labview data acquisition system.


What project will I be assigned to? Because of the duration of the summer school, the students will be assigned to their projects by the mentors before May 1st.  By May 1st we will attempt to notify students by e-mail regarding the project they will work on, who their mentor will be and provide some background reading material.  However, the intent is that you will learn the majority of the material related to your project while you are at the summer school.  Also, note that in contrast to lab projects you have been engaged in during your undergraduate curriculum, these projects generally don’t have a “known” outcome and as such are much more representative of a research project that a graduate student would be involved with.


Do I need a car? A car is not absolutely necessary, but it will make life a lot easier for you (see advice from previous students).  Also, there are a lot of interesting place to visit around New Mexico that will require a car as public transportation is very limited in Los Alamos and throughout the state.  The summer school site is located about 2-3 miles from the portion of town where most student housing is located.  There is a taxi service that will take students from town to the summer school at no charge, but it is limited.  Generally, students have been very good about car pooling and giving rides to those that do not have a car.


What is unique about this summer school? Some of the unique aspects of this program include the projects that have a hands-on component, the lectures provided by world-renowned experts in the field of structural dynamics and access that the students have to these experts after their lectures, the field trips to some unique facilities, and developing and presenting a paper at an international professional conference.


What after hours activities are available? Los Alamos is a very small town with a population of about 14,000 people.  The town is surrounded by national forest and Indian reservations (Pueblos).  There is an abundance of outdoor activities that can be done locally including backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, golf, rock climbing and the highest altitude Olympic size swimming pool in the US.  The lab has a health club.  Santa Fe is about 35 miles away and is a big tourist attraction, hence it has a lot of restaurants and some nightlife.  See http://visit.losalamos.com and http://www.santafechamber.com/.  The advice from previous students suggests lots of activities for after hours.

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