In the world of STEM, where new boundaries are being pushed every year, high school students like yourself need every competitive edge you can get. This is where scholarships come into play, and not just for those of you who are in search of funds, but also for those who are in search of opportunities and learning experiences. Scholarships not only provide financial assistance but also pave the way for enriching experiences, mentorships, and internships that are instrumental in sculpting your future in STEM.
In today’s blog post, we’ll be diving deep into the Amazon Future Engineer (AFE) scholarship, its eligibility criteria, dates, and deadlines, as well as what being an AFE scholar comprises.
What is the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship?
The Amazon Future Engineer is a computer science and STEM education program that seeks to afford all young people the opportunity to explore their potential. They offer multiple programs, internships, and courses to enable their vision, the most notable being their Scholarship for high schoolers planning to pursue a computer science or engineering degree in college. With an award that extends up to $40,000 and a valuable internship opportunity at Amazon, this scholarship is effectively a golden ticket to explore, innovate, and thrive in technology-related fields. The scholarship aims to support intelligent young STEM enthusiasts with financial needs, ensuring that you get a fair chance at the education and career of your dreams.
Is the AFE Scholarship prestigious?
Considering that the Amazon Future Engineer program provides both a monetary award and a paid internship opportunity, both by one of the largest and most widely known tech firms in the world, on top of being restricted to a cohort of only 400 students from over 4,000 applicants, it is safe to say that the scholarship is quite prestigious. While it does not stand out specifically as a signaling mechanism to showcase academic excellence, it does hold true to its purpose of enabling academic pursuit in STEM for students with financial need. The opportunity to intern at Amazon naturally brings its own attendant distinction, strengthening your profile even further.
Who is eligible?
The eligibility criteria have deliberately been kept broad and straightforward to ensure that the maximum number of students apply and benefit from the AFE:
You must be a high school senior in the US who is currently enrolled in or who has completed a high school or college dual degree course where computer science, engineering, or robotics is the subject.
The course is not a mandate - Amazon offers an opt-in assessment in case you’re interested in the scholarship but have not completed such a course.
You're planning to pursue a computer science or engineering degree from an accredited 4-year college or from a 2-year college with the intent to transfer to a 4-year college. This one is non-negotiable, as the scholarship exists to enable STEM aspirations.
You have a demonstrable financial need.
You have a 2.3 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent). You don’t need to be a whiz-kid, as long as you can show that you take your academics seriously.
You must be authorized to work in the US for at least two years. So you could be an Employment Authorization Document holder, Permanent Resident, or US Citizen.
Who are AFE Scholars?
Alumni of the AFE get the opportunity to attend colleges like Georgia Tech, Purdue, UC Berkeley, and the like. Through the internship, they also get to work on Amazon’s latest technologies and core platforms - everything from Alexa to Amazon Web Services, to the retail platform and beyond. Amazon claims that most of the AFE interns close their summer shipping production-level code.
How do you apply & get selected for the AFE?
Just like the eligibility criteria, the application process is rather simple as well. All you need to submit is:
Your unofficial transcript.
An online recommendation from your computer science, robotics, or hardware engineering teacher if you have one, or a teacher who knows you well.
A copy of the first two pages of your household’s most recently filed IRS 1040 form(s) used for the Financial Information Page.
The window for applications will be between October 2 and December 15, 2023.
Your application will be decided on the basis of:
How you do in the classroom
Your engineering experience
Work experience, if any
Responses to short answer questions in the application
Level of financial need
Racial, ethnic, and gender diversity
By May 15 2024 you’ll have a response from Amazon on whether or not you are one of the 400 awardees of the AFE Scholarship.
What does it comprise?
An AFE scholarship comprises two main parts:
The monetary award: Your financial aid package will be evaluated to assess how much your unmet financial need is, which the scholarship will then cover up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. It could be less than that as well, depending on how much is actually required by an individual applicant. Awards are renewable for up to three years or until a bachelor’s degree is earned, whichever occurs first.
The internship opportunity: All AFE awardees will receive an offer for a summer industry internship with Amazon after their freshman year of college. As an AFE intern, you will get to work with a software or hardware engineering team on projects that directly affect Amazon’s operations. This part is arguably as critical as the monetary award because you will get to develop your engineering skills while getting exposure to Amazon leadership and contributing to impactful projects, potentially opening several doors for your future career.
Tips to secure your application
So, if all this has you interested (and you should be), then here are a few tips to keep in mind when submitting your application:
Be authentic - The scholarship is looking for students with genuine need and a demonstrated passion for the STEM fields. If you fit the criteria, more important than anything is to be authentic in your application and showcase your interest and your financial requirements.
Be ambitious - $10,000 is a lot of money, and there’s no reason for you to stint on the course(s) you intend to pursue with it. In fact, the more ambitious you are in your dreams, the more of your passion will be displayed!
Have a strong recommendation - If you’re the kind of candidate Amazon is looking for, you’d have already put in a lot of effort in your academics and extracurriculars. Make sure that you find someone who is willing to back that up by providing you with a great recommendation letter.
Amazon’s Future Engineer Scholarship - Should You Apply?
The Amazon Future Engineer scholarship is a powerful opportunity for any high schooler passionate about STEM but with insufficient funds to gun for their dream career. The application process is straightforward and inclusive, and Amazon makes a serious effort to ensure adequate representation of historically underrepresented communities. If you are in a position where you feel that your education might be disadvantaged by your financial situation or your background, then you should strongly consider applying for the AFE scholarship. With 400 spots on offer and a holistic evaluation process, there’s a chance you may get the opportunity of a lifetime.
You can also consider applying to other scholarships open to high school students, which we have covered here!
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research in STEM, 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.
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