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The Ultimate Guide To MIT’s LLRISE: Should You Do It?

Engineering can be a difficult area for high schoolers to explore in a hands-on way. Doing so requires a network of experienced mentors, a room to craft and build your inventions, and the funds to acquire project resources. However, if you find yourself struggling with finding relevant engineering experience, consider applying for a summer program wherehands-on experience is a priority?.


That’s why in this article, we will talk about MIT’s LLRISE program. This two-week workshop will provide their attendees with knowledge and practical experience in building radar systems, and is a great opportunity to showcase to colleges your passion in engineering.


Want to learn more? Keep reading, and see if this program is the right fit for you!


Is MIT LLRISE prestigious?

Yes – MIT LLRISE is highly prestigious, as they have a low acceptance rate and a very selective application process. Because this program is sought after by many students in the United States and only ~20 students are selected annually, it has a competitive acceptance rate of roughly 6%. Therefore, attending this program will signal to admissions officers that you have qualified for LLRISE’s standards, which will inevitably increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice.


What is MIT LLRISE?

The Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE) program is a free, two-week summer commitment for rising high school seniors. The workshops will teach students how to build small radar systems, such as constructing a Doppler and range radar. Their curriculum places an emphasis on creative problem-solving while students work with talented scientists and engineers.


Who can apply? When are applications open?

The program is exclusively for rising high school seniors, or for those who finished junior year. They must also be a U.S. citizen. Those who are of underrepresented backgrounds, such as students of color or women, are highly encouraged to apply.


Applications for the 2024 cohort will open in January, and the deadline for submissions will be due in mid-March. Those who apply will need to submit their transcripts, copies of test scores (optional), essays, and math and science teachers’ letters of recommendation.


How much does MIT LLRISE cost?

LLRISE, as with many of MIT’s summer programs, is offered at no cost for students to apply and attend. Students will be provided room and board for the duration of the program, although they will have to organize their own transportation at the beginning and end of the program.


What is the MIT LLRISE’s curriculum like?

The curriculum for LLRISE will focus on the introduction of radar systems for high schoolers. A typical day for attendees will begin with morning lectures given by members of the Lincoln Laboratory, and in the afternoon, students will participate in project building sessions.


The unique component of the program is that students will be expected to make their own radars. For example, in order to create a miniature radar that is capable of ranging and measuring Doppler, they will 3D print the necessary components, solder the board, assemble them into one machine, and put their invention to the test. Throughout this process, they will be able to ask the experienced staff any questions they have, such as the function of specific parts and their significance.


The program won’t just be about the technical aspects either – by the end of the program, students will have developed soft skills like interacting in a team environment and presenting to an audience about their findings. Despite what some people may believe, succeeding in the STEM industry requires a good grasp on communication and relationship building, and the program provides an opportunity to become a team player and practice verbal speaking skills in front of a crowd.


MIT LLRISE: Pros & Cons

Now that we have a better understanding about the program, let’s take a look at the pros and cons before we dive into our verdict.


Pros


1. If you want to understand more about radar systems, then this is a great program.


The program is a great start for high school students to learn about engineering concepts, especially in radar systems.

With the lectures and projects LLRISE offers, you’ll without a doubt come away with a much stronger understanding of applying physics and mathematical concepts to the real world, which can help you determine whether you’ll continue to pursue engineering in college. A past student stated that the program gave her “a taste of what [her] life could be,” and with that experience, she can make an informed decision on how she wants to shape her career.


In addition, radar systems is a niche field for high schoolers, and if you’re interested, this is a great opportunity to learn about an area that you might not be able to find anywhere else, much less with an accredited college laboratory to guide you.


2. You’ll get great hands-on experience in the workshops.


One of the most appealing aspects of this program is how students will be able to make their own radar systems. In order to do so, you’ll be directly involved in the creation, building, and testing process, which will ultimately allow you to learn more about crucial skills and applications. It’s likely that you can transfer these skills to other areas – for example, by learning how to 3D print different objects, you may be able to build machines besides a radar system. You can learn about these concepts online or at school, but only at select places like LLRISE may you be able to do these things in-person.


3. You’ll be taught by experienced faculty members


The program is spearheaded by talented scientists and experts from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, which provides a unique opportunity for students to talk to them and ask them questions. Because of their education and career, they’ll be likely to answer specific queries you might have, and you might be able to learn about their career paths and how they might apply to your own.


How did they come to Lincoln Laboratory? What did they do in college? What do they enjoy most about working in a lab? If you’re curious to have these questions answered, then you should apply for LLRISE and see if you can converse with the faculty during the program.


4. You won’t have to spend any money.


Oftentimes, you can be barred from partaking in an intriguing activity because of financial restraints, but not at LLRISE. From the tuition, room, board, and transportation during the program, students and their families do not have to pay anything at all. Instead, they only need to arrange for transportation to and from the campus at the start and end of the two-week program, which makes LLRISE incredibly affordable and attractive from a monetary standpoint.


5. You can build a network from this experience.


In addition to talking to the faculty, you may also find a great peer network from this program. By being able to work in teams and interact with students who share similar interests, you are likely to make long lasting friendships that will remain even after the program ends. Moreover, you can (and should) connect with alumni from LLRISE, because you’ll find people attending different universities and working at different places. Indeed, if you’re looking to be part of a diverse and supportive STEM community, LLRISE is a great choice to start.


6. You can get a sneak peek of campus life by rooming in MIT dormitories.


What is it like to move away from home and into a college dorm? What is it like to stay at a prestigious university? Because LLRISE participants are invited to stay at MIT’s dorms, you’ll get a good idea of what the experience is like, and it’ll help you better prepare to move into college after you graduate from college. If you really enjoy rooming there for 2 weeks, then you might enjoy staying there for 4 years – if not, then you can narrow down your preferences and make a better-educated choice for your dorm life.


7. You are quite likely to impress admissions officers with this activity on your application.


With LLRISE’s reputation, selectivity, and emphasis on a collaborative and resourceful curriculum, listing it as an experience you had during your junior year summer will be proof to colleges of your ability to pursue engineering. Moreover, if your dream college is MIT, then there is a chance that having prior experience on MIT’s campus will demonstrate interest in the college.


Cons


1. If you’re not interested in radar systems, then the program might not be for you.


Although the program is great because you’ll learn many engineering skills and concepts, if you feel that you are simply not at all interested in radar systems, then the lectures and workshops will not be helpful to you. The specific focus on radar systems might deter those who are more attracted to other robotics or engineering fields.


2. You won’t get a lot of time to immerse yourself in the learning.


While these two weeks will be jam-packed with lots of content, inevitably, it is too short of a time to get to know deeply about MIT’s campus and learn beyond a simple introduction to radar systems. Many residential summer programs will often last 4 weeks or longer, which can make it a much more substantial experience during your summer months. For example, another one of MIT’s summer programs, the Research Science Institute (RSI), takes place over five weeks.


3. You should make a backup plan because the program is very selective.


The competitive nature of the program is proof of how famous it is, but there is a high possibility that you may not be able to attend. Therefore, you’ll need to apply for other options during the summer just in case, so you might have to do research on other summer programs you want to attend. Keep reading to get to a list of similar MIT programs you might want to consider!

Our Verdict

LLRISE is a program that is very positive with very few cons. If you’re eligible to apply and find the curriculum to be interesting, then try your best even though the program may be competitive. If you do get accepted, then you’re guaranteed to learn many new things and try new engineering skills at a prestigious university’s lab.


Similar MIT Programs That You Can Consider as High Schooler

MIT hosts many summer programs annually, and unlike LLRISE, their focus can range from a wide variety of topics within engineering, technology, to math. For example, RSI, which was mentioned earlier in this article, allows students to pursue a research paper and presentation with an experienced mentor on topics like chemistry, the environment, biology, and more.


We’ve already published a list of the 10 Best MIT Summer Programs for High School Students, so feel free to check this out!


If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!


Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 


The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas.


The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 


The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.


You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 


Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

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


Additionally, you can also work on independent research in AI, through Veritas AI's Fellowship Program!


Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. 


These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 


The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project.


Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here


Location: Virtual

Cost

  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program


If you are interested in doing university-level research in engineering then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program 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.


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. In her spare time, she likes to create digital art while listening to music.


Image Source: MIT LLRISE logo

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