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10 Mechanical Engineering Internships for High School Students

If you have an interest in mechanical engineering, you won't want to miss out on participating in one of these internships! These opportunities are ideal for enhancing your mechanical engineering skills and gaining hands-on experience. Participating in a mechanical engineering internship can significantly boost your college applications by showcasing your dedication to refining your engineering skills early on. Admission committees highly value candidates who demonstrate genuine commitment to their chosen field. 


As you go about trying to find a summer program that is a good fit for you, keep in mind that they can vary in terms of difficulty and accessibility - you will have to do your research and look for what aligns with your goals! To make things easier, we have compiled a list of the top 8 mechanical engineering programs that you should definitely keep on your radar. 


Location: NASA centers across the country

Stipend: Awarded based on academic level and session duration

Program dates: Spring session (Mid January - Early May), Summer session (Late May - August), Fall session (Late August - Mid December)

Application Deadline: May 26 (Fall), August 30 (Spring), October 20 (Summer)

Eligibility: 

  • Be a U.S. citizen

  • Have a cumulative 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale)

  • Be a full-time student

  • Be a minimum of 16 years of age at the time of application 

If you're a high school student with a passion for mechanical engineering and a deep fascination with space exploration, the NASA OSTEM (Office of STEM Engagement) High School Internship Programs are perfect for you. You'll have the chance to engage with cutting-edge technologies that are at the forefront of space exploration, satellite communication, and aerospace engineering. Whether your interest lies in the realm of robotics, software development, or the complex mechanics behind spacecraft, these internships provide a rich, immersive environment. Here, you can apply your theoretical knowledge to tangible, real-world challenges.


This internship is a gateway into the world of advanced technology and space exploration. The exposure to projects related to satellite communication, aerospace engineering, and other advanced technological fields will not only enhance your understanding of mechanical engineering but also ignite your creativity and problem-solving skills. These internships are an opportunity to contribute to groundbreaking work, offering a glimpse into what a career in space exploration and technology might entail


2. Ladder Internships - Engineering Track

Location: Virtual

Stipend: Unapid. Fee of $1,990. Up to 100% financial aid available. 

Application deadline: Multiple deadlines throughout the year (Winter cohort deadline on November 26, 2023)

Program dates: 8-week programs with multiple cohorts throughout the year

Application Deadline: 

Eligibility: All high school students


Ladder Internships are great for you if you have an interest in mechanical engineering by providing real-world experience in engineering environments. As a Ladder Intern, you will be exposed to various aspects of mechanical engineering, ranging from basic design principles to advanced manufacturing processes. This program places you in settings where you can observe and participate in the development, testing, and refinement of mechanical systems. Whether it's working on automotive parts, robotics, or HVAC systems, you'll gain practical knowledge and hands-on experience that is invaluable for a budding mechanical engineer. 


Furthermore, Ladder Internships are designed to not only provide you with technical skills but also to develop your problem-solving and analytical abilities. Through tasks such as drafting designs, assisting in simulations, and collaborating on project teams, you will learn how to approach engineering challenges creatively and efficiently. These internships often involve mentorship from experienced professionals in the field, allowing you to gain insights into the industry and receive guidance on your educational and career pathways.


Location: Seattle, Washington

Stipend: Some internships provide stipends. 

Program dates: 8-10 weeks (June - August)

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: High school students 


The SPARK Summer Internship Program is a great opportunity for you if you are passionate about mechanical engineering. As a participant in the SPARK Summer Internship, you will be placed in a professional setting that aligns with your interest in mechanical engineering. This could range from automotive companies to robotics startups, offering a real-world context to the theories and principles you may have studied in school. Over the course of the internship, you will work on actual projects, assisting in designing, building, and testing mechanical devices.


The SPARK Program also emphasizes mentorship and skill development. Throughout the internship, you will be guided by experienced engineers who will offer insights into the industry, career advice, and feedback on your work. In addition to hands-on project work, the program often includes workshops and seminars covering various topics in mechanical engineering, such as CAD design, materials science, and thermodynamics. These sessions are tailored to expand your knowledge base and provide a comprehensive understanding of the field. 


Location: Virtual

Stipend: None

Program dates: End of June to Mid August

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: Must be currently a high school junior or senior in the 2022-2023 school year (i.e. 11th or 12th grade at the time of application) or a full-time CC student (within first three years of CC)


As a participant in the SHTEM program, you are immersed in a dynamic learning environment where you get to work on real-world engineering projects under the guidance of Stanford's renowned faculty and graduate students. This program focuses on various aspects of mechanical engineering, including design principles, material science, and robotics. You'll engage in hands-on activities like designing mechanical components, participating in simulations, and conducting material strength tests. These experiences not only enhance your understanding of mechanical engineering concepts but also provide a glimpse into the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges faced by professionals in the field.


In addition to the practical project work, the SHTEM program includes a series of workshops and seminars that cover advanced topics in mechanical engineering. These sessions are designed to deepen your theoretical knowledge and expose you to the latest research and technological advancements in the field. Topics might include sustainable design practices, advancements in 3D printing technology, or the latest developments in biomechanics. Moreover, the program offers invaluable networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with like-minded peers, industry professionals, and academic mentors. By the end of the internship, you will have gained a comprehensive understanding of the field, practical experience, and a network of contacts that will serve as a strong foundation for your future endeavors in mechanical engineering.


Location: In-Person at MIT and Virtual

Cost: Free

Program dates: July - August

Application Deadline: March 31

Eligibility: Rising High school seniors who attends school in the US


The Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) is a good choice for students looking for a hands-on, immersive experience in the world of robotics, autonomous systems, and mechanical engineering. Through BWSI, you will acquire practical, real-world skills such as designing, building, and programming robotic systems and fostering a profound understanding of mechanical engineering principles. The curriculum covers cutting-edge technologies, engineering methodologies, and computer science techniques. 


The highlight of the program is the collaborative project where you work with other students to build autonomous drones, rovers, or other innovative robotic systems. This culminates in a final presentation, allowing participants to showcase their creations. BWSI is an excellent fit for motivated, creative high school students seeking to expand their knowledge, work on challenging projects, and explore their passion for mechanical engineering within a supportive, intellectually stimulating environment. Note that the Beaver Works Summer Institute is highly selective, making admission to the program competitive and limited.


Location: MIT

Cost: Free

Program dates: 6 weeks - Late June to Early August

Application Deadline: February 1

Eligibility: High school juniors; underrepresented, underserved, and first generation students are especially encouraged to apply.


The MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science) Summer Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a great opportunity for students passionate about mechanical engineering and STEM fields. This program is particularly beneficial for underrepresented minority students who aspire to pursue careers in engineering. 


Over the course of the program, you will engage in a rigorous curriculum that covers a wide range of STEM disciplines, with a specific focus on mechanical engineering. You will acquire essential knowledge, develop problem-solving skills, and participate in hands-on engineering projects. The final output of the program often includes a capstone project that pushes you to apply what you’ve learned to real-world challenges. 


MITES is a great fit for students who are highly motivated, academically strong, and curious about exploring the possibilities of mechanical engineering at a renowned institution like MIT. However, MITES is highly competitive, and its rigorous nature may be challenging for some students. Additionally, the program is geared towards underrepresented minority students, so it may not be the best fit for everyone. It's crucial for applicants to be aware of the program's goals and eligibility requirements before applying.


Location: University of Pennsylvania

Cost: $8000

Program dates: 3 weeks in July

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: Rising sophomores to rising seniors who are at least 15


The Engineering Summer Program at Penn (ESAP) is a highly valuable opportunity for students with a strong interest in mechanical engineering. This program offers an immersive experience for high school students to explore the world of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. ESAP's curriculum is particularly appealing for those interested in mechanical engineering as it covers a broad spectrum of engineering principles, including aspects of materials science, mechanics, and design. 


Throughout the program, you will participate in hands-on projects, experiments, and design challenges, gaining practical knowledge and experience. The final output of ESAP often includes a group project that requires you to apply what you’ve learned to design and build a functioning prototype or complete an engineering challenge. 


Note that the program has a high cost associated with it and can be academically rigorous, which could be challenging for students who are not fully prepared for the intensity of the coursework. 


Location: Boston University

Cost: $8246

Program dates: July - August

Application Deadline: March 1

Eligibility: Riding high school seniors who are US citizens


The Research in Science and Engineering Internship (RISE) is a highly advantageous program for students interested in mechanical engineering. RISE provides a unique opportunity for high school students to engage in cutting-edge scientific research, particularly in the mechanical engineering field.


Participants in RISE will have the chance to work closely with experienced mentors and researchers in a laboratory or research setting, allowing them to gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment and methodologies. You not only learn the theoretical foundations but also practical skills that are essential for mechanical engineering, such as CAD design, data analysis, and materials testing. The final output of the program typically includes a research project, often a working prototype or in-depth analysis, which allows students to apply their knowledge in a real-world context.


RISE is a good fit for you if you are interested in exploring mechanical engineering from a research perspective. Before you apply, you should know that RISE requires you to have a high level of independence, making it challenging if you are not prepared for such a demanding research experience. 


Location: Carnegie Mellon University

Cost: Free

Program dates: Six weeks from June to August

Application Deadline: March 1

Eligibility: High school juniors who are at least 16; Underrepresented and underserved students are especially encouraged to apply.


The Carnegie Mellon University Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) offers a comprehensive, immersive experience that combines mathematics, science, and engineering, making it a good choice for students considering a future in mechanical engineering. 


During the program, you will engage with a rigorous curriculum, covering a broad range of STEM subjects, with a focus on mechanics, materials, and design principles. Students are exposed to hands-on projects, problem-solving exercises, and team challenges, gaining both theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are crucial for mechanical engineering. The final output often includes a group project where you apply your learnings to design and build a working prototype, offering a tangible representation of your engineering skills. 


SAMS is highly competitive, and the admissions process can be challenging. The program's intensity and fast-paced curriculum might also be demanding for some students. If you are up for the challenge, you should definitely consider applying! 


Location: Boston

Cost: Free

Program dates: July 15 - August 2

Application Deadline: January

Eligibility: High school students


The Boston Leadership Institute Engineering Research Program offers a remarkable opportunity for students with a passion for mechanical engineering. It is especially well-suited for those looking to explore and deepen their understanding of this field. 


Through the program, students will delve into an array of advanced engineering topics, from mechanical design and materials science to thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. You will engage in hands-on research projects, design challenges, and experiments, enabling you to gain practical experience and develop a deep understanding of mechanical engineering principles. The program culminates in a final research project, where you can work individually or in teams to address a specific engineering problem, design a solution, and present your findings. 



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to dive into research in mechanical engineering, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students 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.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 


Image Source: NASA logo

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