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9 Best Engineering Internships for High School Students in 2024

Pursuing internships within STEM fields, particularly in disciplines like mechanical engineering, can significantly bolster one’s college applications and set a solid foundation for future academic and professional endeavors. These internships offer a hands-on, practical extension of classroom learning, providing invaluable real-world experience that showcases a student’s dedication, initiative, and passion for their chosen field.

STEM internships, especially in mechanical engineering, go beyond theoretical knowledge, allowing students to apply classroom concepts to real-world projects. This practical exposure cultivates problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and familiarity with cutting-edge technologies — attributes highly valued in the field. In this article, we’ve curated a list of 9 of the best engineering internship opportunities for high school students in the US that are open for applications in 2024 - not only are these internship programs highly competitive and rigorous, but also make for a prestigious addition to your college application. 

The Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) offers high school students an immersive 8-week summer experience within Department of Navy (DoN) laboratories. This program serves as an ideal platform for students aspiring to delve into the realms of science and engineering in their academic future. Participants get the unparalleled opportunity to collaborate with top-tier researchers and engineers at Navy laboratories and facilities across the country, engaging directly in authentic Naval research. 

Under the mentorship of seasoned scientists and engineers, students actively contribute to hands-on STEM projects, enriching their knowledge across disciplines like computer science and aeronautics. With a focus on individual subject interests, students have the freedom to choose their lab placement. SEAP, renowned for its prestige and selectivity, offers approximately 300 placements spread across 38 labs nationwide. Look through this deep dive for more info on the program.

Cost/Stipend: $4,000 (New participants) | $4,500 (Returning participants)

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

Application deadline: Applications close November 1 every year.

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

Eligibility: 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 any other particular requirements.

MIT’s LLRISE program is tailored for those with a keen interest in radar systems. Throughout the program, participants delve into the intricacies of constructing small radar systems, including Doppler and range radars. Attendees have the opportunity to collaborate with highly skilled scientists and engineers, receiving guidance and support throughout the program.

The workshop takes place at two key locations: the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA, and the Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA. This hands-on experience provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn and work alongside experts in radar systems.

Cost/Stipend: Fully funded. Students only pay for their transportation to and from MIT. Transportation to Lincoln Laboratory will be provided. No stipend.

Locations: Held at both the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA, and Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA.

Application Deadline: To be announced 

Program Dates: July 14 — July 27, 2024. 

Eligibility: Open to rising seniors passionate about STEM who hold US citizenship.

The AFRL Scholars Program extends paid internships to university students pursuing STEM degrees at the high school and college levels. Internships take place at various times throughout the year in specific locations across the U.S. Upon selection, you’ll be mentored by experienced full-time AFRL scientists and engineers, immersing yourself in AFRL laboratories and actively participating in cutting-edge research and technology projects. 

The program boasts a roster of highly knowledgeable mentors, whose expertise can be explored through a comprehensive list available here. The AFRL program focuses on diverse topics such as aerospace/mechanical design, intricate electromagnetic structures, and other cutting-edge subjects.

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

Location: Varies based on the program

Application Deadline: January 10, 2024, for the AFRL Program to receive internship opportunities. Application deadlines may vary based on the AFRL sites and/or projects to which you are applying. For site-specific deadlines, please visit the site page (accessed from Locations menu).

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)

Eligibility: High School students (Over 16 years old) who are U.S. Citizens can apply. Must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and be available full-time (40 hours a week) to work in their physical offices over the summer.

Ladder Internship is an exclusive program tailored for high school students seeking hands-on experience with startups, covering various fields such as mechanical engineering, technology, finance, environmental science, business, healthcare, media, and more. Organized by Harvard alumni, this program collaborates with renowned entities like YCombinator and Stanford. Throughout the internship, participants engage in real-world projects, culminating in a final presentation showcasing their work. 

Each student collaborates closely with a startup manager and also receives guidance from a dedicated Ladder Coach, providing mentorship and support within the startup landscape. This virtual internship typically spans 8 weeks, offering a comprehensive experience that blends mentorship, practical projects, and exposure to diverse industry sectors. Applicants can explore the range of opportunities available through the program’s application form.

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

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

NASA’s Office of STEM Engagements extends paid internships across all its nationwide locations, offering high school students an extraordinary chance to contribute to ongoing agency projects under the guidance of a dedicated NASA mentor. This program not only provides hands-on experience but also includes training, mentorship, and avenues for career development, allowing participants to collaborate with some of the brightest minds in science, engineering, finance, information technology, and business globally.

The internships cover a wide spectrum of subjects and disciplines, encompassing space science, engineering, aeronautics, technology, space microbiology, ecology, outreach, and communications. Throughout these internships, students may find themselves designing experiments, analyzing data from space missions, or pioneering new technologies, thereby gaining invaluable experience and insight into NASA’s pioneering work. Securing an internship with NASA stands as one of the most prestigious experiences that can significantly enhance a college application.

Cost/Stipend: No application cost. A stipend is provided, based on academic level and session length.

Location: These internships are offered across NASA facilities. Students may select roles based on the cities they are in.

Application deadline: February 2, 2024 (Summer Internships). The office also offers internships in the fall and spring, deadlines for which are different. Check for updates!

Program dates: These internships are offered in 3 sessions — Summer (10-week program, from late May or early June to August) Fall (16-week program, from late August or early September to mid-December) | Spring (16-week program, from mid-January to early May) |

Eligibility: Internships are available for full-time high school students who meet a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement and are US citizens.

This 7-week summer internship is a unique opportunity for students eager to contribute to groundbreaking research conducted at Fermilab, a prominent center for particle physics exploration under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Focused on particle physics and accelerator research, this program immerses interns within Fermilab’s scientific endeavors, enabling direct collaboration with leading scientists. Interns engage in diverse projects encompassing particle physics, particle accelerators, detectors, computing, and quantum science. 

Their pivotal role involves tasks such as data collection through surveys, contributing to research abstracts, and delivering regular oral presentations highlighting the progress achieved during the program. While interns can express preferences for specific research areas they’re passionate about, project assignments vary annually, aligning with ongoing lab projects. These projects represent a subset of Fermilab’s research areas in line with the lab’s mission, all detailed on the lab’s official webpage.

Cost/Stipend: No cost. $16.20 stipend per hour

Location: Fermilab, Batavia, IL. Note that transportation, housing, or meals will not be provided. Fermilab can help you with discounted rates for local hotels near the internship site.

Application Deadline: January 15, 2024

Program Dates: June 17, 2024 — August 2, 2024

Eligibility: Students who are high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors at the time of application are eligible. Juniors with experience programming computers or working with mechanical or electrical systems are encouraged to apply. Students applying must be enrolled in an Illinois high school, and be US citizens or have a permanent resident status.

Sandia National Laboratories, contracted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), offers both summer and year-round internships for students. The lab’s affiliation with the government renders its internships highly prestigious. Student interns take on impactful roles in technical and business capacities, contributing to vital national projects and gaining hands-on experience in a cutting-edge research setting.

Interns have the opportunity to collaborate with seasoned scientists and engineers, contributing to technological advancements across cyber security, energy, engineering, and software realms. Each intern works under the guidance of a manager who helps define their work assignment, schedule, and internship duration. Competitive pay, academic credits, exceptional mentoring, and advanced training collectively enrich these internships, offering invaluable learning experiences.

  • Year-round internships permit local students to work part-time at a Sandia site, dedicating up to 25 hours per week for high school students and up to 40 hours per week during school breaks. 

  • Co-op internships, conducted in partnership with individual schools, enable students to take time off during the academic year to gain work experience at Sandia. These opportunities allow students to work up to 40 hours a week for a duration of 3 to 8 months, encompassing the academic term and potentially extending into an adjacent summer term.

Cost/Stipend: No cost to apply. The stipend will vary based on the internship role.

Application deadline: Open throughout the year.

Location: Current internship openings at Sandia National Laboratory are based in Albuquerque, NM and Livermore, California.

Program dates: Year-round, if you choose that program option. For the Co-op internships, you can select your internship period, in coordination with Sandia and your school.

Eligibility: Students who are at least 16 years old, are enrolled full-time in an accredited college, university, or high school, and are U.S. citizens can apply. Those applying must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for R&D, technical, or business roles.

EnergyMag offers virtual research internships designed for high school and college students interested in delving into the renewable energy sector. These programs immerse participants in company research, technology analysis, and market exploration, fostering the acquisition of essential research skills, analytical capabilities, and hands-on experience.

The internships are flexibly structured, catering to various academic commitments. Students can opt for half-time internships, spanning 2 to 8 weeks with 20 hours per week commitment, or quarter-time opportunities, ranging from 1 to 9 months with 8 hours per week dedication. This flexibility allows students to engage based on their academic schedules while gaining valuable insights and experience in the field of renewable energy.

Cost/Stipend: No cost to apply. Internships are unpaid.

Location: Virtual.

Application deadline: Applications are open all year round, you can apply here.

Program dates: Rolling dates

Eligibility: High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have taken at least one honors science or honors English class, with a minimum GPA of 3.25, can apply.

The TARGET Program offers a competitive six-week summer internship to high school sophomores and juniors in Illinois. It’s tailored for students with a keen interest and proven skills in physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. This program combines hands-on work experience with immersive learning opportunities working alongside scientists and engineers at Fermilab.

TARGET aims to inspire high schoolers to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. A key focus is on boosting diversity by encouraging participation from minorities (Black, Hispanic/Latino, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Alaska Native/American Indian) and fostering more representation of women in science, engineering, and computer science. Each year, the TARGET Program typically hosts a cohort of around 15–25 interns making it a highly coveted opportunity. 

Cost/Stipend: No cost. $17.20 hourly stipend provided. 

Location: Fermilab, Batavia, IL. Note that transportation, housing, or meals will not be provided. Fermilab can help you with discounted rates for local hotels near the internship site.

Application Deadline: February 5, 2024

Program Dates: 6 weeks, June 17— July 26, 2024

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors can apply for the 2024 program. Students must have Illinois high school enrollment and a 3.0 grade point average or above on a 4.0 scale. Students must be eligible to work in the United States.

One other option — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you want to pursue independent research in mechanical engineering, consider exploring the Lumiere Research Scholar Program. This exclusive online high school initiative, established in collaboration with researchers from Harvard and Oxford, is tailored for individuals passionate about conducting top-tier research across key high school subjects. With a highly competitive selection process — last year attracting over 4000 applicants for just 500 spots — it’s an opportunity that draws considerable interest. You can find the application form here to apply for consideration.

Additionally, take a look at the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program designed specifically for gifted students from low-income backgrounds.

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: Ladder Internships logo



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