Internships and Research Experiences in Physics

Internships and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) are an excellent way to apply the material you are learning in your physics and engineering courses outside of the classroom!

Internships generally refer to a position in a company or business. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and there may be opportunities to apply your experience towards PLU credit. Consult with the Physics Department chair for more information.

Check out the Internship Resources available from PLU’s Alumni and Student Connections, including:

  • PLU’s Opportunities Board: Schedule an appointment for personalized, one-on-one assistance or view current internship openings.
  • The PLU Internship Fund: Apply for up to $1,000 in funding to support internship expenses.
  • Internship FAQs: Including “when should I apply for an internship?” and “how do I find an internship?”

Some more general internship resources include:

Below are some other resources for finding Internships.

  • Contact area companies directly, check their websites for postings:
    • Boeing (typically postings appear Nov, Dec – check regularly)
    • Microsoft
    • DuPont
    • City of Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Lakewood, etc…(local area cities) (mostly civil engineering positions?)
    • City of Portland, Oregon state government (if from Oregon – sometimes residents have good chances)
  • Washington Space Grant Consortium Private Industry Internships (Juniors and seniors) Technically only Consortium University Member students eligible…but I imagine internships in general are available.
    • Aerojet Rocketdyne: Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader, specializing in rocket and missile propulsion.
    • Eagle Harbor Technologies: Dedicated to producing innovative solutions to technological problems relating to plasma science including in-space electric propulsion, fusion energy development, and plasma sources for materials processing.
    • M42 Technologies: A small research and development firm specializing in space systems engineering, algorithm development, and application of advanced technologies.
    • MSNW: Based in Redmond, a small research and development firm space propulsion technologies that will dramatically increase the operational capabilities of spacecraft in traditional roles and enable more ambitious missions. 
    • Tethers Unlimited Inc: Based in Bothell, develops advanced space technologies for NASA and the DOD. Their areas of research include advanced space propulsion, avionics and space instrumentation, underwater tether systems, and the fabrication and testing of spacecraft components.
    • Woodruff Scientific Inc: A small research and development company, based in Fremont, conducting experimental and computational research in fusion energy science.
  • NASA Internship Clearinghouse: One-stop place for NASA internships.
  • Department of Energy Summer Intern Program: Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI)
  • NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP): hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign using NASA’s DC-8 or P-3B airborne science laboratories.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates are typically 10-week summer research positions at a college or university. The actual work you will do in one of these positions varies quite a bit, from performing basic tasks in a laboratory to writing scientific analysis code to even proposing and investigating your own research questions! There are REU programs supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as summer research programs supported by other research funding. Be sure to search widely! It is not crucial that you get an REU program in your area of interest – the main goal here is to get experience working in a scientific environment and with a scientific collaboration.

REU programs are very competitive, so you should not take it personally if you do not get accepted. PLU also has a summer research program – be sure to check to see if any PLU Physics Faculty are doing research!