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11 Aerospace Engineering Summer Programs for High School Students

If you're a high schooler interested in aerospace engineering, a summer program in the field is worth considering!

Aerospace engineering is a specialized branch of engineering that focuses on the design, development, testing, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, and related systems and equipment. It covers various disciplines, such as aerodynamics, propulsion, structures, materials science, avionics, and control systems.

From designing cutting-edge aircraft to studying space exploration technologies, these programs will help you apply classroom knowledge to real-world projects, collaborate with industry professionals, and gain hands-on experience in innovative research and development. Such experiences can also significantly boost your college applications by demonstrating your proactive approach to learning and dedication to your chosen field. 

To help you find the program that aligns with your goals, we have compiled a list of the 10 best summer aerospace engineering programs that should be on your radar! 

Location: AFRL Scholar internship opportunities are offered at several locations across the United States depending on the program.

Eligibility: Applicants:

  • Must be US Citizens.

  • Must be at least 16 (by the session application deadline) and have a valid Government ID.

  • Must be enrolled or accepted at an educational institution taking at least a half-time academic course load leading to a degree or certificate for the semester immediately preceding the internship session. 

  • Must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

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

Application Deadline: The applications typically close in January.

Dates: The dates vary for different programs.

Cost/Stipend: No cost; weekly stipends are provided based on the education level of the students and the GS pay scale.

The AFRL Scholars 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. You can find a list of the available mentors here.

The AFRL Scholars Program offers summer internships, with a very limited number of positions also available during the fall and spring semesters. The internship dates and the number of weeks are based on scholar availability and funding available from year to year. You can apply to up to 3 topics per AFRL site. These topics may be within any technical area provided on the topic list. Some research areas available for high school students include Acoustic and Radar Passive Direction Finding, Complex Electromagnetic Structures, High Fidelity Explosive Blast Simulations in Structures, Modeling and Simulation Testing and Development, Weapon Seekers Laboratory Special Test Equipment Control Software Design, and more.

Location: Part online and part on-site at the University of Texas, Austin, TX.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be current high school Sophomores or Juniors ONLY (will be rising Juniors and Seniors) who have not worked as a SEES intern previously.

  • Must be 16 years old by July 1, 2024.

  • Must be US citizens.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Dates: July 27–August 4, 2024 (10th graders) | July 7–July 20, 2024 (11th graders)

Cost/Stipend: No cost; Unpaid (Upon completion of the internship, both virtual and on-site interns will receive a NASA certificate of completion).

During the STEM Enhancement in Earth Sciences (SEES) High School Summer Intern Program, each intern selected will receive links to virtual SEES distance learning activities on or about May 1. The required activities must be completed by July 1 or students will not be eligible to participate in the internship and an alternate will be accepted in their place. Both on-site and virtual interns will work with NASA subject matter experts in July 2024.

The 11th-grade residential internship is for two weeks at the University of Texas Center for Space Research and the 10th-grade residential internship is for one week. The 11th-grade interns can choose to work from different project themes like Astronaut Photography, aerospace engineering, Mars Rover resource utilization, and more. 

Over a week, the 10th-grade interns will get to collaborate with ZERO-G flight mentors to engineer and develop a compact, one-of-a-kind research payload to be tested in microgravity on board the ZERO-G parabolic aircraft. Each virtual project has a different timeline and theme. All 11th-grade interns will participate in a virtual SEES Science Symposium July 22-24, 2024 where teams will present their research to NASA, scientists, family members, and guests.

Location: Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX and Online Experience

Eligibility: Applicants must be high school juniors who are U.S. citizens residing in Texas.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in October. (Applications for the 2024 session are closed and will reopen in August 2024 for the 2025 session).

Dates: This is a year-long program. November-March (Online course) | July 28–August 1, 2024: 4-Day Onsite Residential Experience. For other important dates, check here. 

Cost/Stipend: No cost; Unpaid. (Upon successful completion of the online portion of the course, students will be awarded a 0.5 Science elective credit).

Texas High School Aerospace Scholars is an authentic STEM learning experience for Texas high school juniors to engage with NASA’s missions and become the next generation of explorers. HAS is a year-long commitment for Texas high school juniors which starts in the fall with a four-month online learning experience related to space exploration, Earth science, technology, and aeronautics. Highest achieving students receive an invitation to a five-day gamified virtual summer experience (Moonshot) mentored by NASA scientists and engineers. Although this is a year-long program, only online activities take place during the school year, and the residential session is conducted during the summer.

Online activities include interactive lessons on NASA activities related to space exploration, Earth science, technology, mathematics, and aeronautics. You’ll get to participate in design challenges including 3D drawings, science and math quizzes, discussion posts, and technology writings. You’ll get to chat virtually with NASA engineers and scientists.

If selected for the five-day gamified summer experience, you’ll get to participate in team projects and briefings directed by NASA engineers and scientists, hands-on design challenges, and engineering activities to plan a mission to the Moon and Mars. Top teams from the virtual summer experience are invited to attend a four-day residential experience at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Location: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be a current high school sophomore or junior at the time of application.

  • Have a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, with strong performance in math and science courses.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Dates: July 14–July 20, 2024Cost: $1,850 (Includes room, board/meals, and research supplies). Scholarships are available.

The Cornell Engineering High School Outreach Program’s CURIE Academy is a solid opportunity for students interested in aerospace engineering and offers a blend of rigorous coursework, hands-on projects, and mentorship from esteemed faculty and researchers at Cornell University. 

For students aspiring to pursue a career in aerospace engineering, CURIE Academy provides exposure to cutting-edge research and innovation in the field. Throughout the program, you will engage in aerospace-related activities, such as designing and building rockets, conducting experiments, and learning about the latest advancements in aerospace technology. This immersive experience not only enhances your technical knowledge and problem-solving skills but also fosters a sense of community and collaboration among like-minded peers.

Location: Boston University, MA

Eligibility: Rising high school seniors who are US citizens are eligible.Application Deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Dates: June 30–August 9, 2024 (Residential) | July 1–August 9, 2024 (Commuter)Cost: $8,940 - $9246 plus a $50 application fee (financial aid is available).

If you are interested in hands-on research, Boston University’s Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) Internship track provides an opportunity to explore, in-depth, the many facets of university laboratory research occurring across a variety of fields. In this six-week program, you will get to conduct research for 40 hours per week under the guidance of a faculty member, postdoctoral fellow, or graduate student mentor. As a RISE Internship student, you will tackle a research project and acquire valuable technical and analytical skills, culminating in the Poster Symposium. You might get to submit your work to national science fair contests such as the Regeneron Science Talent Search. You can view the profiles of various departments and mentors and identify professors whose research interests match your own.

Throughout the program, you will participate in weekly workshops that provide insight into the scientific process, research ethics, reading a research paper, making a poster, and networking in the scientific community. You will also benefit from valuable sessions on college admission strategies and preprofessional health programs built into the experience. For 2024, approximately 130 students are expected to participate in the RISE program.

Location: Lexington, MA

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Have U.S. citizenship.

  • Be local high school rising seniors.

  • Be sixteen (16) years of age before the start date.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: July 10–August 15, 2024

Cost/Stipend: No cost; Stipend is provided.

The Summer High School Internship Program at MIT Lincoln Laboratory provides a unique opportunity for rising seniors who live and attend high school in the New England area to experience and explore STEM careers before committing to an area of study in college.  

During the summer, you will be paired with Laboratory staff mentors to complete projects, solve problems, and learn and apply technical and interpersonal skills in a hands-on, professional environment. If you’re interested in aerospace engineering, you can choose to work on projects related to developing radar, electronic warfare, and technologies for future integrated air and missile defense systems. You can also work on projects that improve air transportation by developing sensors, weather tracking, and forecasting systems, and decision support automation, or you could opt to work on developing technology for advanced satellite systems that are used to monitor the activity of objects in space and to perform remote sensing of Earth.

Location: These internships are offered across NASA facilities. Depending on the project, interns will work either remotely or on-site at any of NASA’s 10 field centers across the country.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.

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

  • Be a full-time student (high school through graduate level) or a part-time college-level student enrolled in a minimum of 6 semester hours.

  • Be a minimum of 16 years of age at the time of application (no exceptions).

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in April-May (Summer session).

Dates: Vary depending on the opportunity (10-week program during the summer, from late May or early June to August).

Cost/Stipend: No cost; Interns may receive a stipend based on academic level and session duration.

NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) offers paid internships to high school and college-level students based in its various sites across the country. These internships provide training, mentorship, and career development to over 2000+ students annually alongside exposure to leading experts in science, engineering, finance, IT, and business. The internships are offered in a range of subjects and disciplines, including space science, engineering, aeronautics, technology, space microbiology, ecology, and even outreach and communications. 

During the internship, you will get to design experiments, analyze mission data, and develop innovative technologies. For instance, you can apply for ESEA - Equity Strategies for Emerging Aviation where you’ll research the recent advances in electric propulsion and automation that have enabled emerging aviation concepts with the potential to radically change the way people and cargo move from place to place.

You can explore different internship opportunities here by using the ‘Filter’ option to view the options open to high school students.

Location: MIT, Cambridge, MA (Virtual options are available).

Eligibility: High school juniors (11th grade) attending school in the U.S. can apply.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Dates: July 8–August 4, 2024

Cost/Stipend: None

The 4-week Beaver Works Summer Institute is a project-based STEM program featuring workshop-style courses on various subjects. Some of the courses offered in the field of aerospace engineering include Remote Sensing for Disaster Response, Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing, and Unmanned Air System–Synthetic Aperture Radar

  • Remote Sensing for Disaster Response covers GIS, remote sensing, image processing, network science, and deep learning for emergency management applications using Python to process geospatial data, satellite and aerial imagery, and analyzing networks to prepare, monitor, and respond to disaster situations. 

  • In Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing, you’ll get a holistic introduction to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, more commonly known as drones. Throughout the course, you will learn about the complexities of software systems needed to operate an autonomous platform. You’ll examine the electrical, software, and aerodynamic characteristics of UAVs and discuss the tradeoffs involved in building systems suited for a variety of use cases. 

  • In the Unmanned Air System–Synthetic Aperture Radar course you will get to work with complex systems engineering with programming. You will get to build a fully functioning radar imaging system including everything from drones and RF hardware to data processing.

The BWSI has generally received solid reviews from alumni, owing to the diversity of its cohorts, opportunities for networking and collaboration, as well as the uniqueness of the courses it offers. You can check the current course listing here.

Location: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD | Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Eligibility: Students must be between the ages of 14-18 and have completed at least one year of high school (students may attend NSLC through the summer following high school graduation).

Application Deadline: NSLC will continue to accept applications if space is available in a program or on a program’s waitlist. The online enrollment application will display all current availability.

Dates: Multiple sessions are offered in Baltimore, MD, and Blacksburg, VA. You can check the exact dates here.

Cost: $3,895 (Residential Program)

At NSLC’s Aerospace High School Summer Program, you’ll get to design and build an unmanned aerial vehicle with your team and go behind the scenes to discover how state-of-the-art aircraft and spacecraft are being constructed.

During the program, you’ll get to construct a rocket with your team; construct a glider and build a launch system; build a light and secure payload delivery system; build a wind turbine; and gain knowledge essential for a career in aerospace, including soldering, CAD, types of propulsion, and the various forces present during flight. In addition to these activities, you’ll also gain real-world perspectives and insider knowledge from the experts and experience the inner workings of the field through immersive trips and tours.

Location: USC campus, Los Angeles, CA

Eligibility: High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale are eligible.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in February.

Dates: June 10–July 26, 2024

Cost: $6,330 + $50 application fee (Full and partial scholarships are available).

At USC Viterbi's Summer High School Intensive in Next-Generation Engineering (SHINE), you can join a USC Viterbi professor's research team for seven weeks to discover how engineering addresses real-world problems in various fields, including biomedicine, robotics, aerospace, and more. You’ll get to work with an assigned professor and a mentor (Ph.D. student or post-doctoral researcher) dedicated to training you in experimental lab work or computational research. 

During the program, you’ll work on authentic, immersive lab projects within your choice of cutting-edge research on cancer, environmental sustainability, machine learning, robotics, haptics, aerospace, and more! Through weekly activities with the entire cohort, SHINE also builds a close-knit community where students are introduced to the practices and ethics of creating new knowledge, social and intellectual networking, college prep tips, and extensive experience in science communication. You can check out the 2024 research projects here.

Location: Urbana, IL (virtual option is available).

Eligibility: Students entering grades 9-12 can apply.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all slots are filled.


  • On-campus sessions: June 9–June 15, 2024 | July 14–July 20, 2024 

  • Virtual session: July 21–July 27, 2024 

Cost: $1,000 (on-campus fee) | $150 (virtual camp fee). Scholarships are available for each camp.

The Engineering Summer Camps at the University of Illinois have multiple sessions for their Aerospace Engineering program for high schoolers of all grade levels, although juniors and seniors are preferred for on-campus activities. Though many campers have some sort of experience with the aerospace field, you don’t need experience to apply. 

During the IAI camp, you will learn about a variety of topics regarding, engineering through discussion sessions, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. You will get to learn about aerospace engineering topics including flight mechanics, aerodynamics, rocket propulsion, navigation, aeronautics design, astronautics design, aerospace materials, and structures, and more. You will also attend workshops where you will learn to apply your knowledge from the instructors’ presentations and design model gliders and egg-drop landers. You’ll be provided with materials and with online assistance from the staff you will build the models.

One other option — Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to participate in a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, 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.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD 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.


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