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Guide to the Top Engineering Summer Programs (2024-2025)

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Ask the Expert: Sara Rothe

Sara Rothe

Sara Rothe is the director of the Engineering Summer Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Rothe is an active member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and currently serves on the National Convention Planning Committee and is the advisor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate student chapter.

OnlineEngineeringPrograms: What's something you wish that middle and high school students understood about engineering summer programs, like those offered by Wisconsin?

Rothe: Residency-based engineering summer programs are an excellent way for middle- and high-school students to not only explore engineering as a college major and as a career but also to become more familiar with a specific college campus and college life in general.

In the expenses-paid UW-Madison Engineering Summer Program for high school sophomores and juniors, students attend math, chemistry, physics, and engineering classes. They learn to solve team challenges and complete a team-based project. They meet and connect with our professors, tour local companies, and talk with practicing engineers. And they attend workshops designed to help reduce barriers to actually getting to college—among them, navigating the application process, financial aid, and success in college life overall.

We also offer a virtual Engineering Summer Program designed to introduce 8th-grade students and high school freshmen to broad challenges engineers can help solve and to learn about the variety of engineering disciplines and majors and what those engineers do. They complete a project and begin to build community. And through workshops and mentoring, they also learn how to prepare to be college engineering students.

OnlineEngineeringPrograms: What's something you wish university students understood about summer trainee engineering programs (STEPs), like those offered by Microsoft and Google?

Rothe: At UW-Madison, most of our engineering undergraduates complete one or more internships or co-operative experiences before they graduate. Opportunities like these enable undergraduate engineering students to put their education into practice, to learn and develop new professional and technical skills, to build their professional network, and to explore their options for their future careers and employers.

These programs also can be excellent "on-the-job interview" opportunities: Many of our junior- and senior-level undergraduates receive permanent job offers after completing an internship or co-operative experience with a company.

OnlineEngineeringPrograms: Do you have any general advice for aspiring engineers at the middle school, high school, or early university level?

Rothe: Take the most challenging math and science classes your school offers! Seek opportunities to do research, work in engineering environments, shadow engineers, practice engineering through team-based extracurricular activities in your school or community, get involved in a makerspace or making community, meet like-minded people who also can offer different ideas and perspectives, and participate in introductory programs like our Engineering Summer Program. The internet can serve as a powerful resource for exploring engineering topics and finding opportunities like the ones listed above.

In general, find ways to be curious, creative, and innovative. And keep in mind that engineers also benefit from a wide variety of experiences, so also explore the arts, current events, sports, writing, history ... and much more! Great engineers are also well-rounded engineers.

Methodology

In picking our engineering summer programs, which typically cater to high school students, we selected forward-thinking programs that included residential, in-person, and hybrid learning options. Each of these programs offers dynamic, hands-on, real-world experiences, and includes mentorship opportunities that help students at this early and formative stage of their engineering journey.

For our summer trainee engineering programs (STEPs), which typically cater to university students, we selected from household names that continue to set the standard for STEPs across the nation. Each of these programs is designed to provide students with substantial real-world experience, mentoring, and the opportunity to make significant contributions to their fields. We made sure to select dedicated STEP programs, instead of the usual rolling list of generic internships offered by most companies.

For both types of programs, we prioritized programs that encouraged traditionally underrepresented applicants. Please note that the dates posted are for 2024, but it's expected that these popular programs will endure into 2025.

Engineering Summer Programs

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The UW-Madison Engineering Summer Program is for rising juniors and seniors in high school. The three-week, expenses-paid residential program includes interactive programming that resembles the first-year engineering experience at UW-Madison, challenging students to think creatively, work in teams, and draw on previous knowledge and experiences to solve problems both inside and outside the classroom. It provides participants with hands-on experience in design, in addition to group study and problem solving skills that are transferable to future high school and collegiate coursework. UW-Madison also offers a Virtual ESP. This one-week, fully-online program is for rising freshman and sophomores in high school.

  • Dates: July 13 to August 2, 2024 (ESP); June 24-28, 2024 (VESP)
  • Location: Madison, WI (ESP); Online (VESP)

University of Missouri

Mizzou Engineering offers several youth camps for third graders through high school students. It provides a Hacker Tracker Cyber Security Camp, a Geospatial Science Summer Camp, Game Development, STEM Quest: Engineering Foundations Overnight Camp, Programmable Robotics Overnight Camp, Girl Experiencing Environmental Engineering, Girl Experiencing Electrical & Computer Engineering, Build an Underwater Robot, and Machine Learning & AI.

  • Dates: Varies by camp; check site for details
  • Location: Columbia, MO; Online

Colorado State University

CSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering offers three highly interactive summer programs for middle and high school students interested in STEM. The programs take place across state of the art facilities at CSU’s Main Campus and CSU Spur.

The Engineering Your World program is for students aged 12-14, or rising 7th-9th graders, who will discover solutions to engineering challenges by exploring five disciplines: mechanical, electrical, civil, biomedical, and chemical engineering through ten hands-on activities designed to simulate a collaborative lab environment and spark the imagination. In the past, students have designed and built a swamp cooler, Mars rover egg-lander, and an artificial bicep.

The Designing Your World program is for students aged 14-17, or rising 10th-12th graders, who will work on design activities chosen to simulate real-world, entrepreneurial, engineering problems. Students will be tasked with identifying a problem to solve and then will design, build, test, iterate, and demonstrate a solution (likely including an Arduino-controlled robot).

The newest program, Creating Your World, is for students aged 12-14, or rising 7th-9th graders. This is an advanced summer program for students who have previously completed the first summer program (Engineering Your World) or students with advanced knowledge in STEM. Students will build upon their understanding of STEM by completing projects focused on solving real-world engineering challenges. Do note that Creating Your World is, so far, only available at CSU Main Campus in Fort Collins.

  • Dates: June 24-28, 2024 (Creating Your World - CSU Main Campus); June 17-21, 2024 (Engineering Your World - CSU Main Campus); July 15-19, 2024 (Engineering Your World - CSU Spur); July 8-12, 2024 (CSU Main Campus - Designing Your World); July 22-26, 2024 (CSU Spur - Designing Your World)
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO (CSU Main Campus); Denver, CO (CSU Spur)

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins offers three pre-college innovation programs for high school students interested in math and science: Explore Engineering Innovation (EEI); Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE); and Biomedical Engineering Innovation (BEI). EEI and SEE can both be taken in-person as either a commuter or a resident, while EEI and BEI can both be taken online.

All three programs are derived from curriculum developed by Johns Hopkins faculty, and students who complete a program will earn three JHU college credits. Each class has a 12:1 or lower student-teacher ratio, and includes hands-on projects and activities. Students in JHU’s Pre-College programs will have the chance to collaborate with like-minded peers while experimenting, designing, creating, and learning to think like an engineer.

  • Dates: EEI In-Person (July 1-26, 2024), EEI Online (June 24 - July 26, 2024); SEE In-Person (July 1-26, 2024); BEI Online (June 24 - August 2, 2024)
  • Location: Baltimore, MD (EEI, SEE); Online (EEI, BEI)

Summer Trainee Engineering Programs

Google Summer of Code (GSoC)

Google’s Summer of Code is an online mentoring program focused on introducing new contributors to open source software development.

How it works is potential GSoC contributors contact the mentor organizations they want to work with, and write a project proposal based on ideas that the organization has suggested. If accepted, GSoC contributors will spend a few weeks becoming familiar with the community norms and codebase while determining expected milestones with their mentor for the summer. GSoC contributors then spend 12 or more weeks coding on their projects. At the end, mentors will review those code samples and determine if contributors pass the GSoC program.

Since 2005, the program has connected over 19,000 new open-source contributors from 112 countries with over 18,000 mentors from 133 countries, producing over 43 million lines of code for more than 800 open-source organizations.

  • Application Deadline: April 2, 2024
  • Location: Online
  • Length: 12-plus weeks
  • Who Should Apply: Students or open-source beginners who are at least 18 years old at the time of registration. Applicants must be eligible to work in their country of residence for the duration of the program and cannot be residents of countries embargoed by the US.

Meta University for Engineering

Meta University for Engineering is an immersive -- and paid -- internship program that helps engineering students from underrepresented communities build technical skills and professional work in software engineering. Participants in the program will also get to know Meta’s people, products, and services ahead of the traditional internship cycle. It typically takes place from May to August, including a mix of technical training and hands-on practical work. Throughout the duration of the program, participants are paired with a Meta team member, who serves as mentor. Meta Eng students will be asked to complete a 70-minute coding challenge.

  • Application Deadline: Closed for 2024; Dates for 2025 Pending
  • Location: Varies
  • Length: 10 weeks
  • Who Should Apply: Current first-year or second-year college students studying at a four-year university (or equivalent program for special cases) in the US, Canada, or Mexico. Candidates from historically underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Explore Microsoft

Microsoft’s Explore program is a 12-week summer internship intended for students who are beginning their academic studies and would like to learn more about careers in software development through an experiential learning program. The program allows one to experience the product development cycle's primary phases—Design, Build, and Quality—and is completed working in a pod alongside other Explorers. Explorers will experience both core tech disciplines (Program Manager and Software Engineer), rather than specializing in just one. On-the-job training is combined with mentoring, community building, and networking opportunities.

  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Location: Redmond, WA
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Who Should Apply: First- and second-year students with a planned major in computer engineering, software engineering, or a related field at a university in the US, Canada, or Mexico. Applicants must have completed an Introduction to Computer Science course (or equivalent class) and one semester of calculus (or equivalent) by the program's start. Underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

UberSTAR

UberSTAR is a paid student internship program designed to promote equal opportunity, inclusion, and access in tech. The program connects students interested in working in tech with full-time internships at Uber to provide participants with real-work skills, experiences, and the professional networks they need to succeed. UberSTAR started its first cohort with 30 Software Engineering UberSTAR interns, and, as of 2023, hosts cohorts of over 100 UberSTARs globally in various disciplines, who come from all over the world. The interview process consists of one recruiter phone screening, followed by two 45-60 minute technical interviews.

  • Admissions Deadline: November 2024
  • Location: Varies
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Who Should Apply: First- and second-year college students in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Salesforce Futureforce

Salesforce’s Futureforce internship program includes both a pre-internship program and the flagship summer internship program. The 10-week pre-internship program, the Futureforce Tech Launchpad, is designed to provide underrepresented computer science students with access to hands-on technical training, capstone projects, and mentorship early in their career journeys.

After passing a basic screening application, which includes supplying one’s background and interest in computer science, applicants must create a personal website using basic HTML and CSS, then respond to interview prompts with a 10-minute recording of their answers. Those who complete the 10-week program will gain skills in react.js, node.js, express.js, PostgreSQL, and Render. They will also have experience leveraging AI tools, including GitHub Copilot, and ChatGPT as part of the development workflow.

  • Admissions Deadline: January 2, 2024 (Tech Launchpad); Rolling (Summer Internship)
  • Location: San Francisco, CA (Tech Launchpad); Varies (Summer Internship)
  • Length: 10-12 weeks
  • Who Should Apply: First- and second-year college students in the US, with additional requirements that are role-dependent. Applicants should be majoring in computer science or computer engineering, have completed a CS 1-type class, and be able to demonstrate core programming proficiency. Underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

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