SLS Public Interest Technology Student Fellowship

Apply to be a Public Interest Technology Student Fellow with SLS!


SLS has recently been awarded a grant by the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) to fund a year-long community of practice that will include students, community partners, and faculty advisers, beginning in January 2021.  Program contacts: Kris Chatfield and Ruthie Yow

What is “public interest technology” and why should I apply for this fellowship?

Public interest technology is “the study and application of technology expertise to advance the public interest, generate public benefits, and promote the public good” (New America). As a Public Interest Technology Student Fellow you will get to:

  • scope innovative projects that engage your skills and amplify their impact with community partners who are leaders of color or who work in communities of color
  • learn together with a small, diverse group of students from across CoE
  • work with a community partner in a paid internship during Summer 2021
  • benefit from tailored professional development sessions with the Career Center

Who should apply to be a Fellow?

If you are a first-, second-, or third-year student in ISYE, ECE, ME, or CEE and you are passionate about sustainability, social innovation or social impact projects, this is a great program for you!  Additionally, we are seeking a racially diverse cohort and we strongly urge URM students to apply!

What does being a Fellow entail?

If you are selected as a fellow you’ll participate in a year-long “Community of Practice” (CoP) funded by a grant from the Public Interest Technology University Network. This CoP will be comprised of community partners, faculty advisers, and 2-3 students from four schools of engineering: ISYE, ME, ECE, and CEE. In the Community of Practice, you will work with faculty advisers and community partners on scoping public interest technology projects—projects that use the technical skills of your major to support the work of community partners on sustainability and equity issues.   A key goal of the program is to support students, particularly underrepresented minority students, in gaining experience working with community partners as well as benefiting from career support and professionalization provided by the Career Center throughout the year.

The program consists of:

  • Four meetings in Spring 2021: Between January and April, 2021, all members of the Community of Practice attend four two-hour meetings to learn from each other about student skills, partner vision, and project-scoping.
  • An Internship in the Summer of 2021: Between May and August, 2021, each student fellow will have a summer internship with one of the following fantastic community partners: Grove Park Foundation, Center for Sustainable Communities, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, PlantLanta, or Transformation Alliance.  Students will receive a summer stipend of $5,000 for the internship and will be part of the SLS Summer Internship cohort, which includes a summer seminar for all interns in the broader program
  • A final reflective meeting/ possible project mentoring in Fall 2021: Between September and December, 2021, all members of the Community of Practice will attend a final reflective meeting with partner projects moving, if applicable, into capstone courses to be adopted by teams.

What is the time commitment?

The time commitment during the spring is the equivalent of approximately a one-credit course. You will spend time in the actual CoP meetings, as well as in tailored professional development sessions. You will also spend some time on project work outside of the four CoP meetings.

During the summer, the time commitment is a full-time, paid internship (35-40 hours per week for 12 weeks), spent doing work related to the projects that you scoped with partners during the spring.   

Finally, during the fall, the time commitment is minimal if you are not continuing direct work on a partner project, as there is only one Community of Practice meeting during the fall.  If a partner project you worked on has moved into a capstone/senior design team, then you may be asked to serve as a mentor to that team.

Will it help me in my career/professionalization?

Yes! There are professional development sessions during both the spring and summer that will offer you focused, tailored support on your resume- crafting, cover-letter-writing, and interviewing skills.

I already have a busy schedule, why should I add this?

Becoming a Public Interest Technology Fellow is a completely unique opportunity at Tech. Learning to scope a project with a partner, work in an interdisciplinary setting with other students, and understand how your own skills can contribute to public interest technology and social impact when you graduate position you to excel in interview settings, and to find a career that reflects your passion for social impact, sustainability, and equity work using your technical skills.

Okay, I’m sold! How do I apply?

The short application is available here; the deadline to apply is December 21st.