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8 Automotive Engineering Internships for High School Students

Automotive engineering is a dynamic and multidisciplinary field that focuses on the design, development, manufacturing, and testing of vehicles and their components. This field combines principles of mechanical, electrical, electronic, software, and safety engineering to create innovative and efficient transportation solutions. Gaining practical experience in automotive engineering early on, particularly during high school, can be incredibly beneficial if you are interested in pursuing a career in this field


Hands-on experience through internships can provide you with a real-world understanding of how theoretical concepts are applied in the industry. It would allow you to work with advanced technologies, understand industry standards, and develop essential problem-solving skills. Moreover, such on-the-job experiences can help you make informed decisions about your future career paths and help you discover new areas of interest. Internships not only enhance your understanding and skills but can also significantly boost your college applications. They will often provide you with networking opportunities, mentorship from experienced professionals, and insights into the latest industry trends and technologies.


To help you get started on your internship journey, we’ve put together some of the best internships for high school students interested in automotive engineering!


Location: Virtual

Cost: $1,990 (up to 100% financial aid available) 

Dates: 8-week programs with multiple cohorts throughout the year, including spring, summer, fall, and winter. 

Application deadline:  Multiple deadlines throughout the year. Summer cohort: April 14, 2024 (Regular Admission 1) | May 12, 2024 (Regular Admission 2) 

Eligibility: Open to all high school students, who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. These internships are also open to undergraduates and gap-year students! 


Ladder Internships is a great option for you if you are interested in automotive engineering and want to gain real-world experience in the field. As a Ladder Intern, you will be exposed to various aspects of mechanical and automotive engineering, ranging from basic design principles to advanced manufacturing processes. These internships provide a structured pathway for you to engage in real-world research and innovation, ensuring a balance between academic enrichment and practical skill development. 


Partnered with startups across the United States, Asia, Europe, and the UK, this program will allow remote immersion in areas that pique your interests. It includes one-on-one communication and time management training, among other skills, and group training sessions with fellow interns. You will be paired with a manager at the startup and with a dedicated Ladder coach, who serves as a second mentor. You can explore all the available options here on their application form!


Location: NASA centers across the country; virtual options are available.

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; housing, transportation, and meals are not covered; stipend provided.

Dates: Spring session (Mid-January to Early May) | Summer session (Late May to August) | Fall session (Late August to Mid-December).

Application Deadline: July (Fall session) | November (Spring session) | April/May (Summer session).

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.

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

  • Be a full-time student.

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


NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) offers prestigious programs designed to provide hands-on experience in engineering and technology —many of which are directly applicable to automotive engineering. Interns engage with state-of-the-art technologies used in aerospace engineering, offering insights into advanced materials, propulsion systems, and aerodynamics. Working alongside mentors who are research scientists and engineers, you will gain practical experience, participate in exciting initiatives, and foster technical proficiency in your chosen field. Opportunities span various disciplines, including aeronautics, engineering, technology, biosciences, and more, equipping interns with a diverse skill set for a career in mechanical and automotive engineering.


Participation in such prestigious programs will make your college application stand out, demonstrating initiative, ambition, and a high level of competence. Additionally, the skills and knowledge you will gain during the internship will boost your resume, making you an attractive candidate for competitive university programs and scholarships. Furthermore, networking with professionals and gaining mentorship from NASA experts can open doors to future internships and career opportunities in aerospace, engineering, and related fields.


Internships may be full or part-time; they may be in-person at a NASA center or even remote. You can check out a complete list of positions here.



Location: Depending on the subject area of interest, there are several lab locations to choose from.

Cost: No registration fee; housing, transportation, and meals are not covered; stipend of $4,000 (new participant) or $4,500 (returning participant) is provided.

Dates: Typically 8 weeks during the summer; varies depending on location and student.

Application Deadline: Applications open August 1 and close November 1, 2024; it is recommended to apply as early as possible as slots are limited.

Eligibility: U.S. high school students who have completed at least grade 9 and 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 other requirements.


The Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) is a prestigious, selective program that places high-achieving high school students in Department of Navy (DoN) laboratories across the country. This 8-week program allows you to contribute to real naval research and provides the opportunity to expand your STEM horizons in a number of disciplines including computer science and aeronautics. You will receive mentorship from the country’s top scientists and engineers, gaining hands-on experience that can be highly relevant to automotive engineering. 


SEAP is highly competitive and only accepts around 300 interns and places them in more than 38 laboratories around the country. The program also aims to increase DON STEM internship opportunities for underrepresented groups, so students from these groups are encouraged to apply! If you are interested in the Navy or a career in a STEM field, many interns end up going on to careers within the Department of Navy. Applications for the 2025 cohort will open on August 1, 2024; you can check the updates on their website!


For a deeper dive into this program, you can check out our blog post about it here


Location: Varies based on program; you can check the different locations here.

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; stipend of $492.40 per week is provided (might differ from state to state).

Dates: Varies but should fall under 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)

Application deadline: January 10, 2024

Eligibility:

  • Be an Upper High School Student (Over 16 years old).

  • 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. 


Another internship if you’re interested in automotive and aerospace engineering is the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars Program. Through this program, you can gain hands-on experience working on research-based projects with full-time AFRL scientists and engineers. This is a paid internship opportunity for upper-level high school students, where you will receive guidance from AFRL scientists and work on cutting-edge research! 


You will be actively involved in each part of the research process and will have the opportunity to even present your research. 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, artificial intelligence, and more


For example, some research projects for Summer 2023 were research on cold atom sources and their use in navigation and technology, as well as the development of a personalized chatbox with natural communication, which has applications in enhancing user interfaces and in-car communication systems. You can find more information on their website and apply through this portal!


For a deeper look into this program, check out our blog post about it here!


Location: Various Siemens locations across the United States.

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; stipend varies.

Dates: Typically during the summer, lasting 8-12 weeks.

Application deadline: Usually in the spring for summer internships.

Eligibility: High school students with an interest in engineering and technology; specific requirements may be needed for certain internships.


If you are a student who is fascinated by the convergence of engineering, technology, and automation, the Siemens High School Internship Program offers the perfect opportunity to gain industry exposure and hands-on work experience. With a focus on energy, healthcare, and automation, you will collaborate with other interns on cutting-edge projects that push the boundaries of mechanical engineering


You can choose short-term or long-term internships where you will gain hands-on experience working on simulation models or performing measurements. The work assigned to you will vary depending on the internship!


While the application process may be rigorous, the opportunity to gain exposure to industry-leading technologies and refine practical skills makes Siemens an attractive destination for any aspiring engineer. Working on real-world projects will give you excellent industry exposure and practical experience, honing your skills for a career in many different STEM fields. You can find more information on their website!


Location: Textron Aviation facilities, primarily in Wichita, KS

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; stipend provided. 

Dates: Multiple cohorts throughout the year: 

  • Summer Program - 6 weeks during the summer. 

  • Fall Program - During the spring semester.

  • Spring Program - During the spring semester.

Application deadline: Varies depending on internship; see their website for openings

Eligibility: High school students between the ages of 16 and 19 who are U.S. citizens. 


Textron Aviation is an aviation company catering to the aviation needs of government, military, and commercial clientele. While they primarily focus on engineering and manufacturing, they also offer internships in a variety of fields to high school students.

In an engineering internship, your role will vary based on the specific job. You will gain real-world experience working in aviation engineering — developing skills in mechanical design, materials science, and systems integration, all of which are essential in many fields of engineering.. You will work on advanced engineering projects, gaining insights into aerodynamics, propulsion systems, and structural analysis, which can be directly applied to the design and development of vehicles.


If you’re interested in software engineering, you can also explore the Information Technology role, where you will support software and database development and analytics. This experience is valuable for developing automotive software systems, such as those used in vehicle control, diagnostics, and infotainment. You can check their website for openings and apply.


Location: North Carolina; positions are open state-wide. 

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; stipend will depend on the job role. 

Dates: Specific durations can vary based on internship; most internships are typically a month long.

Application deadline: Opportunities are open year-round; exact deadline varies based on the internship. 

Eligibility:

  • Be currently enrolled as a high school student in North Carolina

  • Be at least 16 years old at the time of employment

  • Have a minimum overall GPA of 2.3 (based on a 4.0 scale)


The High School Internship Program at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is a year-round program offering high school students the chance to work as paid, part-time interns for one or multiple semesters. This program will give you valuable hands-on work experience in transportation infrastructure projects and insights into various employment positions at NCDOT, helping you make informed future career choices. You work directly with NCDOT hiring managers, participate in meetings, educational tours, and other activities, and gain a broader perspective of public service and state government employment. High school students across North Carolina are encouraged to apply, as numerous positions are available in various NCDOT divisions and units.


Internships in various engineering areas, including design, rail, and aviation, offer practical skills and knowledge directly applicable to automotive engineering. You will gain experience in transportation infrastructure projects, which involve principles of mechanical design, materials science, and systems engineering. To check the current openings, check their portal and apply! You must provide a GPA transcript by attaching it to the online application to be considered. 


Location: Honolulu, HI

Cost: Free for all accepted participants; information regarding stipend is not provided.

Dates: Typically 8 weeks during the summer.

Application deadline: TBA

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors interested in automotive engineering can apply.


Through Servco’s Automotive Summer Internship Program, you can gain practical experience working in the automotive industry and explore various career pathways. This 8-week program will provide a unique hands-on experience, allowing you to understand what a career in automotive engineering and related fields could entail. As an intern, you will focus on the technician pathway and rotate through different departments within Servco’s Automotive Retail and Distribution teams, gaining comprehensive exposure to the industry.


Throughout the program, you will learn about various careers within an automotive dealership, including roles such as automotive technician, service consultant, parts counter and warehouse specialist, and warranty administrator. Interns will develop a solid understanding of vehicle maintenance, repair, parts management, and customer service, which are instrumental for a successful career in automotive engineering and technology. You can check all the details on their website and apply when the 2024 cohort opens.


One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing independent research in automotive engineering, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs 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. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


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.


Image Source: NASA logo

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