Best Engineering Summer Programs – 2023

May 23, 2023

engineering summer programs

From Imhotep, the architect behind the Pyramid of Djoser (who–fun fact–also inspired The Mummy franchise’s lead antagonist), to Subra Suresh, a celebrated pioneer in biomedical engineering and materials science, engineers have impacted our world for thousands of years. Moreover, the field’s civil and mechanical engineering origins have expanded to include diverse and ever-developing specialties such as computer, chemical and aerospace engineering, demonstrating that the profession is limitless and will continue evolving in response to modern-day needs and issues.

For a full look at our searchable database of the best 2024 summer programs click the button below. Here, you will be able to sort summer programs by discipline and location and can view important data points such as tuition costs, deadlines, course listings, and more!

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However, no matter which discipline you choose, engineering is often considered to be one of the hardest college majors. Along with pouring energy into a rigorous math and science curriculum, students should also engage in related extracurricular opportunities. As such, well-structured and comprehensive engineering summer programs can provide practical expertise, essential confidence-building, and valuable career insight. Curious to learn more? Check out our list below.

1) Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation Pre-College Programs

  • Location: Baltimore, MD or Frederick, MD (in-person)
  • Residential?: Residential, commuter, and online options available
  • Program Length: 4-6 weeks
  • Cost: $3,350 + residential fees (for in-person programs)
  • Eligibility: Current high school students/recent graduates between the ages of 15-17
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

At Johns Hopkins, there are three college credit-bearing engineering summer programs available.

During Engineering Innovation (EI), students explore civil, chemical, electrical/computer, and mechanical engineering as well as materials science. To do so, they tackle myriad projects in small teams. For example, they might test the material properties of food or construct a stable bridge. All students are responsible for a short final presentation. The workload is intense with full class days and approximately two hours of homework each night. Additionally, academic prerequisites include Algebra II, trigonometry, chemistry or physics, and an A/B average in math/science courses. EI Online students follow exactly the same curriculum, but the program is longer and includes a mix of synchronous and asynchronous study.

The Sustainable Energy Innovation Program is an in-person-only offering that covers sustainable energy technologies. As such, students complete projects that focus on the intersection of energy reduction, energy production & distribution, and policy. Similar to EI, students spend six hours per day in class and complete several hours of homework at night. Moreover, the prerequisites are identical (minus a trigonometry course).

Finally, Biomedical Engineering Innovation is an online-only offering where students work to solve biological, physiological, and medical design problems through hands-on projects and experiments. For example, they complete a biosensor design project as well as an independent research project & online poster presentation. Prerequisites include Algebra II, trigonometry, physics, and an A/B average in math/science courses. Students spend up to 20 hours a week in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous sessions.

2) Engineering Summer Program at University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 3 weeks
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: March

At these highly selective engineering summer programs, students dive into a curriculum that covers math, physics, chemistry, and engineering design. Moreover, they’ll develop teamwork, problem-solving, and design skills. Site visits to companies like Alliant Energy and GE Healthcare are part of the experience, as is individualized mentorship. For students interested in attending UW Madison, the program is also an excellent opportunity to discover more about what it would be like to be an engineering student.

Outside of academics, students live in a residence hall, eat meals together, and attend social programming. In order to be eligible for admission, students must have completed at least a year each of algebra, geometry, and chemistry. Additionally, they must hold at least a 3.0 (unweighted) GPA. Essays are required, as is a clear passion for math and science. However, if accepted to this program, pack your bags immediately–it’s completely free.

Engineering Summer Programs – Continued

3) Engineering Place Summer Programs at NC State

  • Location: Raleigh, NC
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: $1,225
  • Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors
  • Application Deadline: April

Hoping to focus on a particular area of engineering? Look no further than NC State’s residential engineering summer programs. There are twelve workshop options, and while students can select several choices on their applications, they will be admitted to just one. Workshops include those focused on biological and agricultural engineering, aerospace engineering, and biomedical engineering, among others. Each workshop has its own objectives and related projects. For example, a biological and agricultural engineering option–Ecological Engineering–allows students to complete hands-on activities related to storm water treatment and stream health, and includes indoor and outdoor experiences. Additionally, students will hone design and analysis skills.

Outside of their workshops (6-7 hours per day), students spend time participating in program-wide afternoon and evening activities. They also live and dine with fellow participants.

Applying to this highly competitive summer program requires students to submit two short essays as well as their transcripts. Moreover, most accepted students have maintained an A/B academic record in STEM courses.

4) Michigan State University Engineering Summer Programs

  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Residential?: Yes
  • Program Length: 1 week
  • Cost: HSEI: $998; MGIT: $1,099
  • Eligibility: HSEI: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors; MGIT: Rising juniors, seniors, and college freshmen
  • Application Deadline: HSEI: June; MGIT: July

Michigan State offers two engineering summer programs for high school students. These include the High School Engineering Institute (HSEI) and Making a Game of It (MGIT), both of which are residential.

The High School Engineering Institute is geared toward students who are serious about a potential career in engineering. As such, they will be exposed to multiple areas of engineering via lectures, activities, and teamwork. Additionally, students tour engineering research facilities and have a high level of access to engineering faculty members and graduate students. To be eligible, students must possess a 3.0+ in their high school STEM courses and submit a full transcript.

Alternatively, Making a Game of It focuses on computer software skills and preparation for a computer science undergraduate program. Consequently, students participate in experiential learning activities like designing a video game and developing prowess in Python. There is ample access to faculty and graduate students who are passionate about computer science. Finally, like HGIT, students must have strong academic records in their STEM classes (at least a 3.0).

5) Laboratory Learning Program at Princeton University

  • Location: Princeton, NJ
  • Residential?: No
  • Program Length: 5-6 weeks
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: High school students aged 16-18
  • Application Deadline: March

Princeton’s Laboratory Learning Program is unique in that students are integrated into active research projects with Princeton faculty members. However, unlike other programs, there are no set dates–they vary according to the schedule of each specific project. There is also no housing or transportation included, meaning that students should be prepared to procure supervised living arrangements.

LLP offers multiple full-time research opportunities in engineering. Current project options include Chicken embryos lung development, Hydrogels for environmental remediation, and Electrified ammonia synthesis. Furthermore, students can view a project summary, responsibility list, dates, and faculty sponsor information for each option. For example, Electrified ammonia synthesis students can expect to provide experimental support as well as conduct data analysis and literature reviews. At the culmination of their research experience, students submit a two-page research report.

These engineering summer programs are highly competitive. In previous years, Princeton fielded over 700 applications, with most projects accepting just 1-2 students each.

Final Thoughts – Engineering Summer Programs

Given engineering’s level of difficulty, it deserves a solid amount of preparation for the best chance of undergraduate success. Wise prospective engineering students will engage in coursework and activities that not only build their skills but also introduce them to the rigors of the field. Engineering summer programs–particularly those that provide experiential learning opportunities as well as insight into a student’s discipline of choice–are valuable additions to any high school experience.

Looking for engineering summer programs in your area? Consider checking out the following: