Students will learn how policy can be the guiding force that shapes the direction of engineering endeavors and in turn how advances in engineering pose challenges to policymakers. The course will prepare you to investigate how science and technology can address societal needs in an ethical manner.

Join over 180 UVA Engineering students who have the opportunity to collaborate with prestigious organizations in Washington DC to contribute to research decisions that shape national policies on healthcare, innovation, sustainability, energy, information technology, and national security, and more. Help developing nations deal with climate change? Find the right policies to promote green technologies? How about enabling more affordable options for medical services in the nation? We welcome you to become part of a dynamic network dedicated to driving positive change through the intersection of policy and engineering.

About the Program

The Policy Internship Program (PIP) is a unique combination of coursework and real, hands-on internships with policymakers in Washington DC that focuses on science and technology.


The program begins with a 3-credit Spring course in Science and Technology Policy (STS 3020), which provides preparation for the summer through an introduction to policy analysis. The course also examines critical national and international science, engineering, and technology issues, cultivates critical thinking and networking experiences, and fosters listing, speaking, and writing skills.


The internship spans 10 weeks over the summer following the course. It typically starts from the day after memorial day to the first week of August. Students have access to free housing at George Washington University apartments. The Policy Internship Program has a longstanding tradition in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which means students from UVA and MIT get to live in the dorms together and create great memories alongside their peers. Participants who work in government agencies on unpaid internships will receive a $3000 stipend from the University of Virginia.

Students are placed in Congressional offices, committees, and organizations, federal agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

Past placement organizations include:  

  • Senators' and Representatives' Offices;
  • White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense;  
  • Embassy of France, European Union Delegation, World Bank Pan American Health Organization;  
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Electronic Privacy Information Center, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

During their placement, students work on a wide variety of science and technology policy issues in which they often tap into their engineering skills. Students have written policy papers on space tourism, mine detection technologies, innovation policy, STEM issues, emerging technologies such as synthetic biology and blockchain, fracking, bioterrorism, privacy and intellectual policy, biomedical ethics, high magnetic field, and many, many others.

Students will also participate in a speaker series with high-ranking policy makers such as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the Clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States. Students also engage in a variety of social activities including visiting museums, canoeing and camping, attending concerts, touring museums, and going to baseball games. Past activities also include (for most people) a once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting the National Science Foundation, Congressional Research Service, The Laboratory Division, Operational Technology Division, and FBI Academy.

Join the Program

The deadline to apply to become a program intern is in the fall semester and will be October 1, 2024. Students will be invited to interview and then may be notified about acceptance into the program by December 1, 2024.

Prerequisites: Students must be enrolled as a second or third year student in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Please address all the questions on the application form. The application questions can be referenced here as a PDF but please ensure you submit the application through the application form.

WHAT is needed:

  • List a reference including a faculty, staff or former employer
  • Unofficial UVA transcript (Download from SIS)
  • One-page resume, including education, work history, extracurricular activities, policy interests, volunteer experiences, and any other information that you believe is relevant for our consideration of your application
  • Essay responses to the questions in the application

How to apply for internships and prepare for the summer experience:

  1. Research agencies/organizations
    Go to USAJOBS to learn more about government agencies and whether they match with your interests. For non-US citizens, think tanks and non-profit organizations are helpful places to start looking for your internship opportunities.
  2. Contact alumni
    Reach out to PIP alumni in the “Alumni” tab from all years to learn more about what they did! Do not hesitate to reach out to them when needed.
  3. Essay questions
    Your essays assist us in learning more about you and your curiosity or passion in engineering and policy. Use this as an opportunity to reflect how this program may be of assistance to you and your future endeavors.
  4. Interviews
    Once selected after the application, interviews are conducted with the program director. This is the final step in the selection process.

Inquiries about the program can be directed to the Program Director, Rider Foley, at

Get In Touch

Rider W. Foley

Associate Professor Director, Policy Internship Program

Dr. Rider W. Foley is an associate professor in the science, technology & society program in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. He is the principal investigator at University of Virginia on the ‘4C Project’ on Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM education.