The Best Summer Engineering Programs

With the lure of high salaries and strong job prospects, a lot of students enter college thinking they will major in engineering. The actual math and science demands of the field, however, quickly drive many students away. If you think engineering might be a good choice for you, a summer engineering program is a great way to learn more about the field and expand your experiences. Below are some excellent summer engineering programs for high school students.

Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation

Mergenthaler Hall at Johns Hopkins University
Mergenthaler Hall at Johns Hopkins University. Daderot / Wikimedia Commons

This introductory engineering course for rising juniors and seniors is offered by Johns Hopkins University at several locations across the country. Engineering Innovation teaches critical thinking and applied problem-solving skills for future engineers through lectures, research and projects. If the student achieves an A or B in the program, they will also receive three transferable credits from Johns Hopkins University. The program runs for four or five days a week over four to five weeks, depending on the location. Most locations offer commuter programs only, but the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus in Baltimore also offers a residential option. 

Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Justin Jensen / Flickr

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers this enrichment program for high school juniors interested in engineering, science and entrepreneurship. Students select five of 14 rigorous academic courses to study over the six weeks of the program, during which time they have several opportunities to network with a diverse group of individuals within the fields of science and engineering. Students also share and celebrate their own cultures. MITES is scholarship-based; those students selected for the program need only provide their own transportation to and from the MIT campus.

Summer Engineering Exploration Camp

University of Michigan Tower
University of Michigan Tower. jeffwilcox / Flickr

Hosted by the University of Michigan’s Society of Women Engineers, this program is a one-week residential camp for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in engineering. Participants have the opportunity to explore several different areas of engineering during engineering workplace tours, group projects, and presentations by students, faculty and professional engineers. Campers also enjoy recreational events, exploring the town of Ann Arbor, and experiencing a university residential atmosphere in the University of Michigan dorms.

Carnegie Mellon Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science

Carnegie Mellon University Campus
Carnegie Mellon University Campus. Paul McCarthy / Flickr

The Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science (SAMS) is a rigorous summer program for rising high school juniors and seniors with a strong interest in math and science and who may be considering a career in engineering. With separate tracks for each grade level, the academy offers a combination of traditional lecture-style instruction and hands-on projects that apply engineering concepts. SAMS runs for one week, and participants stay in residence halls at Carnegie Mellon. The program does not charge tuition, so students are only responsible for textbook fees, transportation and recreational expenses.

Exploring Your Options at the University of Illinois

Bike Lanes at UIUC
Bike Lanes at UIUC. Dianne Yee / Flickr

This residential summer engineering camp for rising high school juniors and seniors is offered by the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering program, headquartered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Campers have the chance to interact with engineering students and faculty, visit engineering facilities and research labs at the university, and work together on hands-on engineering projects. Students also participate in traditional camp recreational and social activities. The camp runs for two one-week sessions during June and July.

University of Maryland Clark School of Engineering Pre-College Summer Programs

University of Maryland McKeldin Library
University of Maryland McKeldin Library. Daniel Borman / Flickr

The University of Maryland offers a number of summer programs for high school students to explore the various disciplines of engineering. The Discovering Engineering program for high school juniors and seniors is a one-week immersion in the university’s engineering program, including tours, lectures, laboratory work, demonstrations and team projects designed to help students develop their math, science and engineering skills and decide if engineering is right for them. UMD also offers Engineering Science and Technology to Energize and Expand Young Minds (ESTEEM), a two-week seminar for high school seniors that explores engineering research methodology through lectures, demonstrations and workshops.

Introduction to Engineering Program at Notre Dame

Michael Fernandes / Wikipedia Commons

The University of Notre Dame’s Introduction to Engineering program offers high school students with strong academic backgrounds and an interest in engineering the opportunity to further explore potential career paths in engineering. During the two-week program, students can experience a taste of college life, staying in Notre Dame campus housing while attending lectures with Notre Dame faculty members on aerospace, mechanical, civil, computer, electrical, and chemical engineering in addition to hands-on laboratory activities, field trips, and engineering design projects. 

University of Michigan Summer Engineering Academy

University of Michigan Tower
University of Michigan Tower. jeffwilcox / Flickr

The Summer Engineering Academy at the University of Michigan has three levels of summer commuter sessions in engineering. The Summer Enrichment Program for rising eighth and ninth graders is a two-week camp designed to expand upon middle-school level math and science concepts, applying them to the basic principles of engineering. For rising tenth and eleventh graders, UMich offers the Michigan Introduction to Technology and Engineering, offering classes in technical communications, engineering math, professional development and engineering concepts culminating in an engineering-based project. The Summer Engineering Academy’s Summer College Engineering Exposure Program for rising twelfth graders incorporates more advanced lessons on those same engineering topics with a team interdisciplinary engineering design project as well as enhancing the students’ experience with tours and presentations on the university’s engineering programs, opportunities to build their college portfolios, and an optional ACT preparatory course.

University of Pennsylvania Summer Academy in Applied Science and Technology

University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania. neverbutterfly / Flickr

The University of Pennsylvania offers motivated high schoolers the opportunity to explore engineering at a college level at their three-week residential Summer Academy in Applied Science and Technology (SAAST). This intensive program includes lecture and laboratory courses in biotechnology, computer graphics, computer science, nanotechnology, robotics, and engineering complex networks taught by Penn faculty and other distinguished scholars in the field. SAAST also includes extracurricular workshops and discussions on topics such as SAT preparation, college writing, and the college admissions process.

University of California San Diego COSMOS

Geisel Library at UCSD
Geisel Library at UCSD. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

The University of California San Diego branch of the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) emphasizes technology and engineering in its summer course offerings for high school students. Students enrolled in this rigorous four-week residential program choose one of nine academic subjects or ‘clusters’ from topics such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, biodiesel from renewable sources, earthquake engineering, and music technology. Students also take a course on science communication to help them in preparing a final group project to be presented at the end of the session.

University of Kansas Summer Engineering Camp - Project Discovery

Kansas Union at the University of Kansas
Kansas Union at the University of Kansas. Photo Credit: Anna Chang

The University of Kansas School of Engineering offers a five-day intensive learning camp where rising 9th-12th graders receive a hands-on introduction to engineering principles and the various career opportunities within the field of engineering. Campers follow a curriculum specific to their individual area of interest, such as computer science, aerospace, mechanical, chemical, civil/architectural, or electrical engineering, building their problem-solving skills by working together with fellow students and faculty to find solutions to real-world engineering design problems. Participants also have the opportunity to visit local engineering facilities to see different kinds of engineers at work.