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10 Engineering Internships for High School Students

If you're an ambitious high school student considering a trajectory in engineering, you may want to consider engineering internships before applying to college. Admissions officers are looking for students who go beyond their classroom curriculum to learn and engage with the subject they are passionate about.


Doing an internship as a high school student, in a space as competitive as STEM can add greatly to your resume. In this blog, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list with 10 engineering internships, including aerospace engineering internships, mechanical engineering internships, and biomedical engineering internships.


Note that most of these opportunities are fully-funded, and provide a stipend. This list also includes prestigious national–level internship programs by organizations such as NASA, that you can consider while exploring potential engineering internships.


1. NASA Internships

NASA’s Office of STEM Engagements provide internship opportunities at all their locations around America. If you’re located near a NASA facility, you can opt for an internship in a research facility near you. However, if you live away from one, NASA now conducts virtual internships as well! You can access their database on internships here (you will have to filter through the database to find opportunities open for high school students specifically).


Through this internship, you will gain the opportunity to experience real-world applications of aerospace engineering. Students interested in engineering or astrophysics can consider this program as it’s a great value-add for college applications, owing to the reputation and prestige of this program as well as NASA.


Cost: No cost, stipend provided

Location: Varies, different for each internship offered

Application Deadline: Varies from internship to internship

Program Dates: Varies from internship to internship, but should be in one of these three cohorts -

  • Fall - from late August/early September to mid-December (16 weeks)

  • Spring - from mid-January to early May (16 weeks)

  • Summer - from late May/early June to August (10 weeks)

Selection Rate: Highly Selective

Eligibility:

  • High School Students

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen

  • Have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.


2. Ladder Internships

Ladder Internship is a selective program for high school students to work with start-ups on engineering and other topics. The program is run by Harvard alumni and works with companies from places like the YCombinator and Stanford.


Ladder Startups work in fields including engineering, tech finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism, and more. You can explore all the options here on their application form.


As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding students through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. Note that as a Ladder Intern, you will engage in a coaching+work-based model - a component that sets it apart from most internships in this list. The virtual internship is usually 8 weeks long.


Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location: Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application Deadline: Applications for cohorts in June, September, December, and February (4 cohorts throughout the year)

Program Dates: 8 weeks, June to August, cohorts run year round

Selection Rate: Selective (<30% acceptance rate Summer 2023)

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!



3. Air Force Research Laboratory Scholars Program

The AFRL program is a paid-internship opportunity for upper-level high school students who are interested in aerospace engineering.


Post-selection, you will receive guidance from full-time AFRL scientists and engineers, touring AFRL laboratories and working on cutting-edge research and technology. Each mentor in the program is highly knowledgeable and you can find a list of mentors here. The topics in the AFRL program are centered around aerospace/ mechanical design, complex electromagnetic structures and more.


The research projects for Summer 2023 include the Clean-up of PFAs contamination, research on Cold Atom sources and their use in navigation and technology, and the development of a personalized chatbox with natural communication (to name a few).


Cost: No Cost + stipend provided ($468.80/week)

Location: Varies based on program

Application Deadline: Varies from internship to internship

Program Dates: Varies from internship to internship, but should be in one of these three cohorts -

  • Fall - from late August/early September to mid-December (16 weeks)

  • Spring - from mid-January to early May (16 weeks)

  • Summer - from late May/early June to August (10 weeks)

Selection Rate: Selective

Eligibility:

  • Upper High School Student (Over 16 years old)

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen

  • Have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.

  • Must be available full-time (40 hours a week) and work in their physical offices over the summer.

4. SEES Summer High School Intern Program by NASA and UT Austin

The SEES program is collaborative between NASA, the Texas Space Grant Consortium, and UT Austin. This national-level summer internship program is an opportunity for you to work alongside NASA subject matter experts - a coveted achievement


The program is centered around Earth and space research. As an intern, you will be expected to assist with analyzing and visualizing data in your respective area of research. You can expect to work on areas such as Earth and space research (either through astronaut photography or galaxy classification), climate research, mission design (through satellite design or Mars Rover resource utilization) or more.


There is a virtual, learning component to the program and then an onsite experience on campus at the University of Texas, Austin. You are also expected to present your research at the program's concluding symposium.


Cost: No cost

Location: National Institute of Health Campus (Bethesda, MD)

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): 20th February 2023

Program Dates (Summer 2023):

  • June 25th-July 7th (remote)

  • July 8th - July 22nd (onsite).

Selection Rates: Highly Selective

Eligibility:

  • Open to rising Juniors and Seniors (at the time of the program)

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen


5. Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) - Department of Navy

The SEAP Program by the Department of Navy (DoN) allows high school students to conduct Naval research and technology while simultaneously being mentored by scientists and engineers who currently conduct research at DoN.

Prospective students can choose between the 30 labs spread out over the country. Lab choices are based on interest (e.g., very few labs offer Marine Biology as a topic of interest, while Statistics and Engineering are more common among the labs).

Some topics of research that have been covered at the SEAP program are:

  • Submarine Life Support

  • Development of Ansys Fluent Workflow for Axial Fan Simulation and Flow Around Objects

  • Catalytic Oxidation of Li-Ion Electrolyte

  • Analysis of CSS Georgia bones and Various Consolidants

  • Design and development of AM Prints for Educational Purposes


Get a more detailed understanding of their contributions here!


Cost: No Cost + stipend of $4,000 (new participants) or $4,500 (for returning participants)

Location: Varies depending on lab choice.

Application Deadline (Summer 2024): 1st August 2023

Program Dates: Varies from lab to lab (expect it to be conducted in the summer months).

Selection Rates: Highly Selective

Eligibility:

  • Open to rising Juniors and Seniors (at the time of the program).

  • Must have turned 16 years old by the start date of the program.

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen


Note: Eligibility changes based on lab to lab (with some labs changing the grade and age minimum and others opening the program for permanent residents and dual citizens).


6. QuarkNet Summer Research Program

Quarknet offers a 7-week summer internship program where students interested in science and technology can contribute to Fermilab research. Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) operates under the U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science and is America’s premier lab for particle physics research. The program’s area of interest lies in particle physics and accelerator research and you’ll work alongside scientists who conduct Fermilab research.

In particular, expect to work on projects involving particle physics, particle accelerators, and detectors, computing and quantum science in order to analyze data to advance understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe. Further, your main role will involve collecting data through entrance and exit surveys, working on the team’s research abstract and giving oral presentations throughout the course of the program.


Cost: A salary ($16.20/hour) will be provided.

Location: Varies depending on lab choice.

Application Deadline (Summer 2024): December 15th 2022 - January 31st 2023

Program Dates (Summer 2023): June 20th - August 4th, 2023

Selection Rates: Selective

Eligibility:

  • Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or have permanent resident status with Illinois high school enrollment.

  • Proof of medical insurance is required.


7. SPARK Summer Internship Program

Any person interested in pursuing Computer Science in college would find SPARK interesting. SparkSIP allows applicants to select 5-6 projects that they’d like to work on, and then assign sponsors to selected students. Moreover, SPARK provides opportunities and resources that can be used during and after college applications!


For the cohort of 2023, the research project list included the following topics (among others) -

  • Detection tool for tick-borne infections or breast cancer

  • DNA Sequence Classification based on Electrical Signatures

  • 2D Materials - A new class of conductors and semiconductors for future

  • Preparing Python script for crossbar architecture and exploring its various non-idealities.)

  • Understanding spike-timing and spike-rate impact on Spiking Neural Network (SNN)

  • Quantum - Technical Writing and Problem Solving


The program not only allows you to work on real-world applications of concepts in machine learning, computer programming, computer vision, and neural networks, but also lets you interact and learn from industry leaders, university professors and mentors.


Cost: No Cost, Stipend provided ($500)

Location: Greater Seattle Area

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): May 1, 2023 (based on past year's dates)

Program Dates (Summer 2023): 6-8 weeks, June to August

Selection Rates: Very Selective

Eligibility:

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or have permanent resident status.

  • Can commit to working for 40 hours/week for 8-12 weeks.


8. California Academy of Sciences - Careers in Science (CiS) Intern Program

The CiS Intern Program invites applications from San Francisco students from underrepresented communities in the field of STEM to learn about science and sustainability. Moreover, each student receives mentorships, gains the opportunity to build their professional skills and gains guidance with the college admission process.


Previously, topics covered in the program include Python for scientific programming, astronomy, science communication, biomimicry, environmental justice, and California conservation.


We reached out to the CiS team regarding the subject tracks they offer, and here’s the answer we received- students are allocated to roles and departments in a museum setting based on their interests and opportunities they have available in the museum at the time.


Cost: No Cost, Stipend provided

Location: California Academy of Sciences

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): April 3rd, 2023

Program Dates (Summer 2023): Multi-year, year-round participation

Selection Rates: Selective

Eligibility:

  • Open to freshman or sophomores enrolled in SFUSD schools

  • Maintain a GPA of 2.5 (Grade of C or higher in science and math)


9. Idaho National Laboratory Internship

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) offers six-week internships for high school students to apply traditional STEM concepts to real-world problems. The internship is split in an 80/20 format where 80% of your time will be spent in the lab with your mentor while the other 20% will be centered around enrichment and skill-building activities.


You can be expected to work on areas such as advanced transportation technology, clear energy, critical infrastructure protection and Cyber security (to name a few). Internship opportunities are segregated in these categories based on related sets of research subjects and required skills. You are free to apply to as many potential areas of interest you may have! A unique feature of INL is their offer of internships in business administration, finance and accounting internships alongside their STEM internships.


In each area of interest, the number of research topics are also various. Past topics have included:

  • Investigation of Rare Earth Elements Mobility through Molecular Dynamics

  • Thermogenic Cementous Thermal Storage Material

  • Advanced Topologies for 3D Printed Heat Exchangers

Note. The INL displays the work of all their interns virtually through their ‘Intern Poster sessions!


Cost: No Cost, Stipend provided

Location: Idaho National Laboratory

Application Deadline: Varies based on internship

Program Dates: During summer, for 10-16 weeks.

Selection Rates: Selective

Eligibility:

  • Open to high school students above the age of 16.

  • Students who hold a U.S Citizenship or permanent resident status (only exceptions are foreign nationals who attend an accredited U.S. college or university).


10. HiSTEP - High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program

Conducted by the National Institute of Health, the HiSTEP program offers internships in the areas of biomedical engineering and healthcare. The goal of the program is to expand the pipeline of students interested in biomedical and healthcare careers by expanding opportunities for high school students.


Spanning over 5 weeks in Bethesda, MD, you'll delve into the scope of scientific enterprise and the importance of biomedical research and other STEM-M careers. Sessions in the HiSTEP program have previously included -


  • Basic science skills used in laboratory settings through hands-on science experiments.

  • Current topics in Health Science through case studies and group projects.

  • Exploring STEM-M careers through learning the roles played by scientists, healthcare workers, and public health experts.

  • Career readiness and leadership development through improving skills such as self-awareness, assertiveness and interpersonal/ resiliency skills.

  • College and career advising through resources that improve understanding of the college application process, aid in scholarship and mentor finding, and help with the transition to college.


Cost: No Cost + stipend ($2150) and Public transport benefits provided

Location: National Institute of Health Campus (Bethesda, MD)

Application Deadline (Summer 2024): 1st February 2024

Program Dates (2023): July 5th - August 3rd.

Selection Rates: Selective

Eligibility:

  • Must be a high school sophomores or juniors/ rising sophomore (turn 17 by June 15th 2023 for Summer 2023 program)

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or hold permanent resident status.

  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • Attend a school where 30% or more of the student body participated in the Federal Free/ Reduced Lunch Program.

  • Have their primary residence in Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC (within 40 miles of the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD).


Bonus - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in engineering then 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 2100 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: NASA logo


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