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10 Best Summer Engineering Programs for High School Students

As a high schooler, if you’re wondering whether engineering is the right choice for your future, using your summer break to explore the intricacies of the field is a good idea. Summer programs in engineering subjects can give you a solid insight into the field, help you build your knowledge base while offering practical experience. 


Doing a summer program can help you make informed choices when it comes to your college major and potential career path, as you’ll be getting a glimpse into the vast, nuanced field. Additionally, such programs are a great value-add to your profile – college admissions officers look for students who show dedication and genuine interest in the field of choice, and a summer program can indicate that.


Universities and institutions across the country offer summer programs for high school students, covering a wide range of engineering subjects. Many of these are competitive, prestigious programs, allowing students to learn from and work with industry professionals and renowned faculty.


In this article, we’ve listed 10 of the best summer engineering programs for high school students.


Location: MIT campus, Cambridge, MA. This is a residential program!

Eligibility: High school juniors are eligible to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2024

Program Dates: The program typically runs late June through early August (6 weeks).

Cost: Free – housing and other fees will be covered. This is a fully-funded program.


MITES Summer is a prestigious, fairly competitive program, offering students the opportunity to dive into a range of STEM subjects. Students take one math course, one life sciences course, one physics course, one humanities course, and one project-based elective course. Scholars are placed into the math, life sciences, and physics courses based on their knowledge and skills. In the past, elective courses have included Engineering Design, Architecture, Machine Learning, and Electronics. Students keen on engineering can pick courses suited to their interests!


The program also includes social activities, events, lab tours, and admissions counseling for students to gain a deeper insight into the field and what to expect from a career in engineering. This program takes in around 80-100 students annually. Selected students will learn from experts and MITES alumni, while participating in immersive classes, workshops, recitations, and field visits. Students will receive a written evaluation at the end.


Location: Columbia University, New York City, NY

Eligibility: All current high school students are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2023 (priority deadline) | March 26, 2024 (final deadline)

Program Dates: Students can opt for one of these two 3-week sessions:July 8, 2024 - July 26, 2024 | July 29, 2024 - August 16, 2024 

Cost: $5,500 (this includes tuition, lab and materials fee, and activities fee). Students will have to arrange their own transportation. Housing is not provided.

Financial Assistance: Need-based scholarships are available. Make sure you apply before the priority deadline to be applicable for financial aid!


Columbia University’s SHAPE offers high school students project-based, college-level courses taught by the university’s diverse and established faculty. Courses include robotics, biomedical engineering, competitive programming, sustainable engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, data science, and math and operations research.


The program also includes workshops, electives, lab work, college preparation, and learning from Columbia students. Although there are no official statistics on the acceptance rate, the program is competitive and spots tend to fill up quickly.


Location: NYU campus, New York City, NY

Eligibility: Students residing in New York City, who will complete 10th or 11th grade in June 2024, are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

Program Dates: June 3, 2024 - August 9, 2024 (10 weeks). The first 4 weeks will be remote after-school workshops, and the next 6 weeks will have in-person labs on weekdays.

Cost: Free. Students will receive a stipend of at least $750.


NYU's ARISE is a comprehensive summer experience for students interested in engineering and its various subsets. The program’s interdisciplinary curriculum covers courses and disciplines such as chemical engineering, robotics, computer science, bio- and molecular engineering, machine learning, anthropology, biology, aerospace engineering, and AI.


ARISE is designed to help students develop skills in various STEM disciplines through hands-on work in research labs. Students will also attend classroom learning sessions, workshops (on ethics, lab safety, and data collection) and college admissions prep sessions. One of the distinguishing features of ARISE is the mentorship provided by NYU's research faculty. This mentorship fosters an environment of collaboration, guidance, and innovation, allowing you to work on meaningful research projects that contribute to advancements in your chosen STEM fields. At the end of the program, students will present their findings at a colloquium.

The 2024 cohort is set to accept 76-80 students.


Location: MIT campus, Cambridge, MA

Eligibility: Rising high school seniors are eligible to apply. It is recommended that PSAT Math Scores be at least 740 or higher and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score be 700 or higher. ACT math scores should be at least 33 and verbal scores at least 34. 

Application Deadline: Applications for 2024 are closed. Please keep checking the program page for 2025 application dates.

Program Dates: July - August (6 weeks)

Cost: Free, there is no cost to attend.


Research Science Institute (RSI) is ideal for students keen on pursuing technology in the future, who have a passion for innovative research. RSI selects 100 high-achieving, motivated high school students every year, to provide them with on-campus coursework and off-campus research opportunities.


This prestigious program, hosted by the Center for Excellence in Education (in collaboration with MIT), offers an intellectually stimulating environment where you will get to work with like-minded peers from around the globe. You will dive into high-level scientific inquiry, exploring technology through hands-on projects, and engaging in discussions with leading researchers and experts in the field. RSI's commitment to academic excellence and research innovation ensures that you don't just study technology but actively contribute to pushing its boundaries. Participants will spend their first week learning from accomplished STEM professors. The next five weeks will involve a research internship where students will draft and conduct their own research projects under experienced researchers and scientists. They will then present their findings in their final week through written and oral presentations.


Location: There are several lab locations to choose from across the country.

Eligibility:  High school students who have completed at least grade 9, are at least 16 years old when the internship begins, can apply. Graduating seniors are eligible as well. There is room for some exceptions. Students are recommended to check whether their preferred lab choice has any other particular requirements. 

Application Deadline: Applications open in August and close on November 1st every year. 

Program Dates: Eight weeks in the summer. Exact dates vary depending on the lab you choose.

Stipend: $4,000 (new participant) | $4,500 (returning participant)

Cost: There are no registration costs, however, housing, meals, transportation, and medical expenses are not covered. You can expect to have to travel to and from your lab, depending on your placement.


Every year, SEAP places  300 students across its 38 laboratories nationwide, making it a highly competitive program. It’s also regarded as highly prestigious, because of its association with the US government. Many students go on to pursue careers in the DoN after this apprenticeship.


SEAP is a fairly research-focused program, which offers students a chance to work alongside leading researchers and engineers at Navy laboratories and facilities across the country, on real Naval research. As part of the program, you will receive mentoring from expert scientists and engineers at the Navy labs. While working on projects hands-on, you will gain valuable knowledge and skills in various STEM disciplines, such as engineering, computer science and aeronautics.


Note: Your lab choice is based on your subject of interest, and the location you prefer to be in.


Note: The university also offers programs in Sustainable Energy Engineering and Biomedical Engineering.

Location: Students can choose between residential, commuter, and online options. Note that the residential options are all in Maryland, whereas the commuter options are spread across Maryland, California and Washington DC.

Eligibility: All high school students who have completed courses in Algebra II, trigonometry, and physics and/or chemistry can apply. Make sure you look through at all the academic prerequisites before you apply.

Application Deadline: February 23, 2024 (early decision deadline) | May 17, 2024 (final deadline)

Dates: July 1-26, 2024 (4 weeks)

Cost: $3,575 (tuition) + $5,500/$5,800 (residential) / $250 (commuter lunch)

Financial Assistance: Need-based scholarships are available.


The EEI pre-college program organized by John Hopkins University is a three-credit college-level course for high school students. The program provides students with classes, workshops, and a chance to engage in lab work. The program covers activities across a number of engineering fields, including materials science, civil, chemical, mechanical, and electrical/computer engineering.


Some of the projects you may work on, in small groups, include: Testing the material properties of spaghetti, designing a bridge, creating an electronic device, and using a small bioreactor by connecting concepts like heat transfer and chemical reactions. As part of the program, you will also pitch your ideas and present your final work!


Location: TexasTech University campus, Lubbock, TX. This is a residential program!

Eligibility: Students who will be at least 17 years old by the program start date, are set to graduate in 2024 or 2025, and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents can apply.

Application Deadline: February 15, 2024

Dates: June 16, 2024 - August 1, 2024 (7 weeks)

Stipend: $750 (on completion of the program)

Cost: Free. The program covers on-campus housing, meals, and weekend activities. Students are responsible for their own travel, personal, and medical expenses. 


With an acceptance rate of less than 3%, this highly competitive program only takes in 12 high school students each year. Once selected, you will join a cohort of high-achieving students to conduct research across a wide range of fields, including engineering, and receive 1-1 mentorship and guidance from some of the country’s top scholars. As part of the program, you will also attend discussions, seminars and field visits.


During this program, students can expect to gain practical research experience, build their knowledge base, and engage in social activities. Students will learn from experienced faculty members of the university’s engineering department. More information about the research disciplines available for this program will be updated on the program website soon. In 2023, the program offered research options in biology, physics, electrical and computer engineering, and chemistry. 


This program recreates an intensive college application experience, taking into account the applicant’s test scores, grades and activity list. To give you an idea of just how competitive the pool is, selected students usually have SAT scores in the 99th percentile!


Location: University of California Los Angeles, CA.

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-11 in spring 2024, who are at least 15 years old by the program start date, can apply. 

Application Deadline: June 1, 2024

Program Dates: Students can choose to attend one of these two 3-week sessions:

Session A: June 24, 2024 - July 12, 2024Session B: July 15, 2024 - August 2, 2024 

Cost: $2,781 

Financial Assistance: Financial aid is available.

Note: Housing is not provided. 


This program, part of UCLA’s pre-college summer sessions, introduces students to engineering design concepts. Students will work on hands-on projects, learn how to prepare a report, and put together a result presentation. This program allows students to earn credit while still in school, and an opportunity to explore their subjects of choice.

The program provides access to engineering design software and materials for students to work with. Students will have the option to choose from 4 tracks – aerospace engineering (rockets), aerospace engineering (planes), mechanical engineering (GoKarts), and electrical engineering (rovers). Students will receive a letter grade upon completion.

UCLA also provides three computer science summer institutes – an introductory track, an intermediate track, and a generative AI track.


Location: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. This is a residential program!

Eligibility: Students must be at least 15 years old by the program start date. Different tracks in this program might have additional prerequisites. 

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024 (priority) | April 5, 2024 (general)

Program Dates: July 7-27, 2024 (3 weeks)

Cost: $8,500 (this includes housing, tuition, meals, course materials and trips)

Financial Assistance: Need-based scholarships are available.


This is a competitive program that only takes around 230 students every year. The instructor-to-student ratio is typically 1:19, giving students the advantage of small classes. The program combines theory with practical experience by equipping students with cutting-edge technology, while receiving guidance from experienced UPenn faculty. Also, you can earn college credit on completing the program!


This program offers several tracks in the fields of engineering, tech and computer science. These include: Robotics, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology. Each of these tracks will have group work activities and independent study requirements. Students will learn the basics of the subject they choose, with the perspective of preparing for a career in engineering.  


Location: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Eligibility: Students who

  • are enrolled in a U.S. high school and are at least 16 years old. High school graduates who will not turn 18 by June 15, 2024, can apply (for the 2024 cohort)

  • are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. International students enrolled in a U.S. high school can also apply. Princeton does not sponsor visas for the program.

Application Deadline: March 15, 2024

Dates: 5-6 weeks in the summer, depending on the research project and the schedule of the researchers. Each research project has its own schedule. Interns work full-time, Monday to Friday, with no weekend activities.

Cost: Free. 


This program offers students a chance to work with faculty and researchers in Princeton laboratories, assisting them with ongoing research, usually in engineering and the natural sciences. LLP is a highly selective program, with only 40 students selected across Princeton’s 25 labs. During this program, you’ll spend most of your time in the lab - conducting research and learning techniques.


Princeton faculty lead research teams, which include postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students, and other staff researchers. At the end of the program, interns must produce a two-page research summary report. Research opportunities change every year, depending on the laboratory and the researcher’s focus. Some of the research projects interns participated in last year included:

  • Machine learning methods for power magnetics modeling

  • Heat pumps to save the world

  • Investigating heteroresistance to antibiotics

  • Machine learning for green power generation

  • Decoding human genetic variation in human health and disease

  • Biofuel oxidation at supercritical pressure

You can see the entire list of 2023 research opportunities here!



One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate and curious about the STEM track, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Johns Hopkins University logo

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