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The Beaver Works Summer Institute - 8 Reasons Why You Should Do It

MIT hosts some great pre-college programs for high school students - most of these programs take place mostly in the summer and are offered in both in-person and virtual formats.


These programs are highly prestigious and invite applications from bright, dedicated young individuals who wish to apply to MIT or other prestigious institutions for their undergraduate program.


In this blog, we'll cover one of its most popular programs, the Beaver Works Summer Institute for high school students. We'll list 8 reasons that you can keep in mind while applying, as well as additional information about the program such as eligibility, courses offered, program dates, cost, and location.


Now, let’s take a look at 8 reasons why you should apply (and participate) in the Beaver Works program!


1. Diverse course offerings for STEM subjects

If you are passionate about STEM subjects, BWSI offers a range of courses that are suited for high schoolers in terms of difficulty.


However, you should not confuse this with these courses being within your comfort zone - you are expected to engage with newer concepts and applications, and in the process, add an edge to your college application.


College admissions officers often look at your academic activities outside of school, to understand whether you display the drive and motivation to apply your learnings/learn more about a subject outside of school.


Here's a quick overview of the course offerings -


A 4-week course aimed at guiding students through the process of creating their cognitive assistants is offered in a virtual and offline format. Note that this course includes lectures, projects, and discussions, as well as a final group deliverable that you must present at the end of the program.


Interested in learning more about mechanical and automobile engineering? This course offers nine teams of five students, with their MIT-designed RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steeRing) robot, the opportunity to research further in these areas, learn to collaborate with their team members, and present fast, autonomous navigation in a Mini Grand Prix. The program has one online component and an offline one for selected teams.


This course offers students the opportunity to protect access, users, data, or network assets while denying the same to oppositional forces in the digital domain. You should consider this course if you're interested in pursuing a career in cyber security.


Other offerings are -


These courses are focused on building a well-thought, interdisciplinary, and application-based focus on a particular subject for the student, and are incredibly useful if you wish to pursue research/careers in these fields.


2. Access to cutting-edge resources + course material

If you're considering a summer course that focuses on application-based learning, it may be a good idea to check out which resources are provided as part of the course. BWSI offers its students relevant resources such as access to labs and equipment, as well as relevant tech stacks for CS-based courses.


While students taking up courses through an online format may not be able to fully utilize these resources, they too, are provided with comprehensive learning materials that they can use to familiarize themselves with the subject and use as reference materials at a later date.


A few examples of resources that the program provides you with licenses to certain software, lab facilities such as microcontrollers, high-end computer workstations, as well as video tutorials and FAQ sets.


You can take a look at some past sessions here.


3. Multiple collaboration opportunities with like-minded students

One of the most important features of an enriching summer program is the collaboration opportunities that you can engage in. In programs such as BSWI, where students from multiple nationalities and educational backgrounds are selected as participants, the scope for collaboration and peer learning trumps solo learning.


In 2019 alone, over 90% of all BWSI participants reported that they enjoyed and engaged in peer learning. The Institute in 2019 saw students from 36 U.S. states and 10 countries, including China, India, and South Korea.


The BWSI also partners with institutions and organizations in STEM to provide its students with real-time experience and interactions with field experts - a few examples of former tie-ups are Google, Amazon, and NASA.


While applying to college, your essay and applicant profile must showcase a mature, global eye for collaboration, one that is open to learning from peers, and participating in such programs is an excellent opportunity to showcase this.


4. Strong alumni network

A good indicator of the prestige and value of a national-level academic program such as the BWSI is the strength of its alumni network. As a program alumnus, you can continue to engage with your peers, seniors, as well as mentors even after you start attending college and launch your career a few years after.


The BWSI has 1000+ alumni, and the number increases with every cohort. You can interact and learn from alumni groups on platforms such as Linkedin and Facebook, and ask around for opportunities, and guidance in STEM.


Over 30% of BWSI alumni state that they have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in STEM, and being part of such a community is nothing short of beneficial when entering STEM professionally/academically. Additionally, some of these alumni also go on to become mentors for the program after a few years!


5. Lifelong Mentorship Opportunities

Based on student reviews and testimonials, we can safely say that BWSI has a robust track record when it comes to mentorship for STEM, with over 90% of participants saying that they had a mentor throughout their journey as program participant.


Having a mentor in STEM not only helps you engage with the subject of your choice on a deeper level but also fine-tunes your learnings and applications while sending in your final project (based on your course).


Over 70% of BWSI alumni go on to mentor newer students and having experience as both a participant and mentor adds to the quality of mentorship that students receive.


6. Interdisciplinary Take on Course Materials

BWSI is known for its interdisciplinary take on pre-college courses. While its offerings are only STEM-related, there is an excellent mix of engineering, math, pure science, and tech that you can explore.


It may be a little intimidating to take up the interdisciplinary course(s) right after high school, especially when you don't have a lot of experience with either of the two (or more) subjects offered in combination for every course. For example, if analytics and scientific data excite you, you might want to explore the Medlytics course (a combination of medicine and analytics).


Over 80% of BWSI participants reported that they had the opportunity to integrate concepts from multiple academic disciplines during the program.


In terms of diversity in the cohort, about 50% of BWSI participants (in 2019) had a major or concentration in computer science, while the remaining participants came from a variety of other fields.


7. Engaging Networking Opportunities

If you wish to participate in a program that offers robust networking opportunities with experts and peers from STEM fields, here are a few aspects of the BWSI program that you may want to keep in mind -


As a participant of any BWSI course, you will be expected to attend and engage with guest lectures from industry experts, industry site visits (based on the course you opt for), team-building events with your peers, and collaborative projects.


Along with these in-program aspects that allow you to network freely, BWSI also boasts of a strong alumni network (that we mentioned before in the blog).


These opportunities, if used wisely, can be an excellent way of building and enhancing your network, all before you join college! In such settings, don't hesitate to discuss your application strategy/components with your seniors and mentors, and gain feedback!


8. The program is completely free of cost

Cost can be a major factor when considering a pre-college summer program, no matter how prestigious or enriching it may be. BWSI is a program that is completely free of cost, and thus invites some of the brightest minds around the country and abroad, cost no bar.


If you are interested in doing university-level research in STEM, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 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 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: Beaver Works Summer Institute logo

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