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MITE at UT Austin- Is it Worth it?

If you’re in high school and are planning a college major or career in engineering, you should consider applying to various pre-college programs. These programs provide a preview of college life and academics, helping you refine your interests, familiarize yourself with the basics of the field, understand career possibilities, and even enhance your own academic profile. 


Today’s blog takes an in-depth look at the My Introduction to Engineering (MITE) program at the University of Texas at Austin, which offers critical early insight for high school students into what future studies and careers in engineering could entail.


What is MITE?

Hosted by the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin, the My Introduction To Engineering or MITE program is a five-day residential pre-college program for high school juniors with a strong interest in engineering, science, or math. Over the course of the program, you will work on an engineering team project and engage in a series of workshops and seminars led by the faculty and current students of UT Austin. The program’s goals are twofold: to spark interest in engineering among young students and to diversify the future engineering workforce. It targets academically motivated students from varied backgrounds, especially those who may not have access to extensive STEM resources or who have faced significant challenges.


The Cockrell School of Engineering is one of the top-ranked engineering schools in the country, boasting over 20 research centers and the highest number of National Academy of Engineering members amongst its faculty. This, combined with the limited intake of 100 students to the MITE program, makes it a privileged opportunity to get the experience of studying engineering at one of the best universities in the nation.


How is MITE structured?

The MITE program will immerse you in the daily life of an engineering student at UT Austin. You will interact with engineering students, and Cockrell faculty, and attend sessions that include hands-on project work in labs, problem-solving exercises, and lectures covering different engineering disciplines. This close interaction with the university environment provides a realistic glimpse of what a Texas engineering grad’s life is like. There are also plenty of lectures and tours, as well as dedicated sessions on admissions, financial aid, and what you can do to prepare for college.


MITE takes place in two sessions of 50 students each, one from June 23-27 and the other from July 7-11.


Is it prestigious?

Admission to MITE is quite competitive, as you need strong academic credentials even to be eligible to apply. Each year, only 100 students are selected from a pool of approximately 500 applicants, ensuring that those chosen are among the most promising young engineers. The acceptance rate for MITE thus falls somewhere around 20%. Participation in MITE not only elevates your college application by signaling your academic strength and dedication to future recruiters and admissions officers but also provides you access to a network of peers and industry leaders that can be invaluable to your future academic and career pursuits. While MITE is still an introductory engineering program, thereby limiting its impact compared to a dedicated pre-college engineering course, its robust admissions criteria, competitive selection rate, and the tag of the University of Austin can make it a useful addition to your profile.


Who is eligible to apply?

MITE’s eligibility requirements are primarily focused on academic ability. In short, they are as follows:

  • You must be a high school junior residing in the United States.

  • You must meet at least ONE of the following academic criteria:

    • An SAT Math score of 620 or above (600 or above if the test was taken before March 2016)

    • An ACT Math score of 26 or above

    • An Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB or BC test score of 3 or higher

    • An International Baccalaureate (IB) HL or SL Mathematics score of 4 or higher

    • An official college or university transcript showing credit for a college-level Calculus I (or higher) course with a grade of C or higher

    • An official high school transcript showing credit for a Calculus I (or higher) course with a grade of C or higher

    • An official high school transcript showing credit for a Precalculus course with a grade of C or higher

    • Five years or more of high school math courses at or above the level of Algebra I


How does the application process work?

You will need to submit your application between the end of January and the end of March. As per the MITE FAQ page, the primary criteria used in selection are the extent of your academic preparation - grades, essays, ranks, and any other extra-curricular involvement. There is also a strong focus on socioeconomic status, and you’re especially encouraged to apply if you have experienced economic hardship or have limited exposure to engineering courses in your high school.


Note that MITE is partially funded by philanthropic support, hence you only need to pay a fee of $100 upon acceptance to cover part of the cost of lodging and meals. However, there are no additional scholarships available and you will be responsible for your own transportation expenses.


Pros and Cons of applying to MITE

Pros:


  1. The program serves as great exposure for an introductory program: MITE fits a lot of practical experiences and hands-on training in its pedagogy. You also have plenty of direct interaction with leading engineering educators and access to top-tier university facilities.

  2. The program is extremely budget-friendly: With only a $100 program fee, MITE is one of the most affordable pre-college programs available. If you’re constrained by finances but want to understand engineering, this is the perfect opportunity.

  3. Acceptance to the program signals academic capability: Being selected for MITE shows future admissions officers and recruiters that you have demonstrated serious academic strength, and been recognized for it by a prestigious university.

  4. The program offers good networking opportunities: Connections made with industry professionals, UT Austin faculty, and talented peers from across the country can be of great assistance if you choose to pursue a career in engineering.


Cons:


  1. You will have to travel to the Cockrell campus at your own cost: Since MITE is a residential program, if you’re unable to travel to the Cockrell campus in Austin, you will not be able to attend it.

  2. The program is only held for 5 days: Five days even for an introductory program is quite short, limiting the learning and exposure you can derive from this program.


Our review - is it worth it?

The MITE program at UT Austin can be a solid opportunity if you’re a high school junior in Texas (or able to travel there) looking to pursue engineering. The program’s practical and hands-on curriculum, combined with UT Austin’s faculty exposure and extremely low cost, make it a strong choice for students looking to get a head start on their engineering education. 



One Other Option Lumiere Research Scholar Program

Alternatively, if you’re interested in understanding how research in engineering works, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I 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.


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: UT Austin seal


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