Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Engineering

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Engineering

As part of your college application, extracurricular activities—including those over the summer— help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college).

But “programs” are not the only way to explore academic interests. You can join clubs at your school or locally, take free online classes via edX and Coursera, shadow, or intern (aka volunteer for most students)—there are tons of options ranging from super formal (and pricey) to those as simple as reading in your free time.

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in exploring engineering.

Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE)

The LLRISE program is a two-week summer institute for rising seniors that teaches students how to build small radar systems. The project-based enrichment program challenges students to build a Doppler and range radar.

COSMOS UCSDUS IrvineUC Santa CruzUC Davis

The COSMOS program is a four-week residential program designed by the UC schools. Each campus focuses on different subject areas, all admitting their own “cluster” of students. The courses are taught by UC faculty and researchers. Students choose from nine different clusters, which include engineering design, biodiesel from renewable sources, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and more.

Penn Engineering Summer Academy 

The Engineering Summer Academy at Penn (ESAP) welcomes highly motivated and talented students to explore Engineering at the college level.  The Academy’s intensive, three-week programs combine sophisticated theory with hands-on practical experience in cutting-edge technologies. Work with leading faculty while earning college credit, live on Penn’s historic campus, and connect with new friends from around the world.

MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute

The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) is a rigorous, world-class STEM program for talented students who will be entering their senior year in high school. The four-week program teaches STEM skills through project-based, workshop-style courses. BWSI began in 2016 with a single course offered to 46 students, a mix of local daytime students and out of-state residential students. In this course, RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steering), students programmed small robotic cars to autonomously navigate a racetrack. It is a 4-week residential program for rising high school seniors and the program is free.

Google Computer Science Institute 

Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) is a three-week introduction to computer science (CS) for graduating high school seniors with a passion for technology — especially students from historically underrepresented groups in the field. CSSI is not your average summer camp. It’s an intensive, interactive, hands-on, and fun program that seeks to inspire the tech leaders and innovators of tomorrow by supporting the study of computer science, software engineering, and other closely-related subjects. It is a 3-week program and it is free.

AI Scholars

A 10-day program that exposes students to fundamental AI concepts, and guides them to build a socially impactful AI project. The program runs as a 10-session (40 hour) project-based Bootcamp.

CATALYST Academy

CATALYST Academy is a one-week residential program for rising high school juniors and seniors from underrepresented backgrounds who desire to learn about engineering and careers within an interactive milieu.

MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP)

The MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP) is a rigorous four-week summer academic experience to introduce high school students to engineering through hands-on classes, labs, and team-based projects in the summer after 11th grade.

WTP is designed for students who are excited about learning, have demonstrated their ability to excel at math and science in their high school classes, and who have no prior background (or very little) in engineering or computer science, with few opportunities to explore these fields.

WTP is a women-focused, collaborative community aimed at empowering students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved in engineering. We especially encourage students to apply who will be the first family member to attend college, who come from high schools with limited access to STEM classes and activities, or who are African American, Hispanic, or Native American.

Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES)

The MITES program is a six-week long residential program geared towards rising seniors from underrepresented or underserved communities. The program aims to provide the skills and knowledge necessary for pursuing a career in the STEM fields. Students take one math course, one life sciences course, one physics course, one humanities course and an elective course. Placement is determined by diagnostic tests that are administered to all students during the orientation period of the program.

 

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The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: STEM

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: STEM

There are tons of interesting and fun summer programs out there! However, the ones we most often suggest are those that help you explore your academic interests. As part of your college application, they help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college).

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in STEM.

Garcia Program, Stony Brook University

This is an intensive seven-week program for gifted high school students which combines formal instruction with independent research and allows students to design original research projects with guidance from Garcia Center faculty, students, and staff. Students can continue during the academic year in the Mentor Program, which allows them to plan a research schedule with a faculty mentor throughout the year. Pre-arranged transportation and class schedules are coordinated with local school boards to enable students from a large geographical area to enroll in the program. Almost three hundred high school students have participated in this program since its inception. Learn more here.

Research Science Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Each summer, 80 of the world’s most accomplished high school students gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Research Science Institute (RSI). RSI is the first cost-free to students, summer science & engineering program to combine on-campus course work in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. Participants experience the entire research cycle from start to finish. They read the most current literature in their field, draft and execute a detailed research plan, and deliver conference-style oral and written reports on their findings. RSI scholars first participate in a week of intensive STEM classes with accomplished professors. The heart of RSI is the five-week research internship where students conduct individual projects under the tutelage of mentors who are experienced scientists and researchers. During the final week of RSI, students prepare written and oral presentations on their research projects. Learn more here.

COSMOS, University of California (Multiple Campuses)

COSMOS is an intensive four-week summer residential program for students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12 have the opportunity to work with renowned faculty, researchers and scientists in state-of-the-art facilities, while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools. Through challenging curricula that are both hands-on and lab intensive, COSMOS fosters its students’ interests, skills, and awareness of educational and career options in STEM fields. Learn more here.

Simons Summer Research Program, Stony Brook University

Established in 1984 as an outreach program for local high school students, the Simons Summer Research program now attracts applicants from all across the country to the Stony Brook campus: Simons Fellows are matched with Stony Brook faculty mentors, join a research group or team, and assume responsibility for a project. The Simons Fellows conclude their apprenticeship by producing a written research abstract and a research poster. In addition to learning valuable techniques and experiencing life at a major research university, Simons Fellows attend weekly faculty research talks and participate in special workshops, tours and events. At the closing poster symposium, students are presented with a $1,000 stipend award. Learn more here.

MIT Beaverworks Summer Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) is a rigorous, world-class STEM program for talented students who will be entering their senior year in high school. The four-week program teaches STEM skills through project-based, workshop-style courses. BWSI began in 2016 with a single course offered to 46 students, a mix of local daytime students and out-of-state residential students. In this course, RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steering) students programmed small robotic cars to autonomously navigate a racetrack. The positive student reaction to our hands-on learning style led to the expansion of the program to include two additional courses in 2017, Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing and Autonomous Cognitive Assistant. To make sure students had the STEM background to participate fully in the three courses, the BWSI instructors developed online tutorials that students had to complete as a prerequisite for applying for the summer program.  In 2017, 98 students from 49 high schools nationwide enjoyed BWSI. Learn more here.

Non-“Program” Ideas We Love

Khan Academy Modules

Free Online Classes from Top Colleges & Universities

Highlights for High School

  • Via MIT. Learn more here.

Lab Internship/Shadow

  • Ask us about this one!

 

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Weekend Workshops for High School Students

Weekend Workshops for High School Students

The NYU School of Professional Studies High School Academy offers Weekend Workshops that provide high school students with programs of study that allow them to explore their professional options and enhance their college portfolio. Although I do not usually recommend formal pre-college type programs, I do think this is a great way for underclassmen to explore areas of academic interest. The deadline to apply is January 22, and classes start on February 8. The cost is $450 for 4 sessions. Read more here.

We’ve also got new programs launching in 2020!  To stay up-to-date on program announcements, please subscribe.

The first is a purpose project collaboration with Strategy Girl. A purpose project is a project that draws on your interests and talents—the things you love, that bring you joy, that excite you academically—that you feel would fill a need in your school, community, or the world. Participants will:

  • Conceptualize a Purpose project—a project that students design and implement on their own, which taps into the students’ talents—the things they love, that bring them joy, that they want to study in college, or how they feel they could best help their school, community, or the world. They’re connected to your deeper meaning and purpose and they have tangible outcomes. Anyone can do them. What is most important is inspiration, commitment, and support!
  • Learn about the importance of collaboration over competition, seeking out support from others, and understanding that leadership is not a path walked alone. 
  • Gain insights on goal-setting, strategy, learning from hurdles and setbacks, and how to stay sane in today’s highly competitive high school scene (including the craziness around college admissions!).
  • Draft a resume/activity sheet and learn about how their work in this program might be utilized when applying to college.

Past projects include writing a book, completing a literature review or book challenge, creating a trailer for a documentary, prototyping an app, spearheading an innovative volunteer event, creating a club at school, fundraising for an organization of your choice in a creative way (selling artwork, an Etsy shop, etc), and hosting a yearly beach clean-up. 

This program meets online once weekly for 1.5 hours, for 5 weeks, with the option to meet other local participants in-person in the NYC-area. The deadline to apply is January 31, and classes start on February 15. The cost is $750, and scholarships are available.

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Launch a startup this summer

The Early Application Round is open! The LaunchX early application deadline is December 15, and this is your opportunity to be compared with a smaller pool of applicants.

If you didn’t know already, LaunchX is a 4-week experience hosted at top universities around the United States. Students collaborate with other motivated and skilled peers to plan, design, and launch a real startup! In previous years, LaunchX has been held at the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania.  The locations and dates for summer 2020 will be announced in January, though please note, you are applying to LaunchX, and not to a specific university location.

Unlike many other business programs, LaunchX focuses on entrepreneurship and getting real, meaningful results. Throughout the program, students are provided advisory boards and mentors with real-world experience, plus students learn from and engage with many industry experts in fields from product design to marketing strategy. “Launchies”, as we like to call them, work together in an intensive and collaborative community to discover unique opportunities, conduct market research, prototype, user test, and more, finally culminating in Demo Day, where they showcase and demonstrate their hard work.

Wondering what the admissions committee looks for in a great applicant?  We’ve got you covered!  Check out this blog post where we’ve shared more about what matters to us.

Concerned about being able to afford the cost of the program if admitted?  We offer generous financial need to domestic admitted students!  Check out this post for more on last year’s financial need, plus note that we offer application fee waivers with proof of financial need, and waive application fees to students who have applied previously!

Don’t forget to check out our new Summer Program guide, filled with tons of super helpful information.

Additionally, make sure to follow and check the LaunchX Instagram page @launchxed. New this year, our interns will be hosting live Q and A sessions where you will be welcome to ask any questions you have about the LaunchX experience and application process.

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