My son is a Junior, in his second year of FIRST (teams 192 & 6036). We’re looking for a summer program that would be fun and also be good for thinking about colleges. Programs in robotics, mech eng, or aero eng are preferred. So many programs out there are for beginners… Thanks for any suggestions!
Operation Catapult From Rose Hulman Institute of Technology was interesting when I went. Another option: Take the money you’d spend and instead give it to them as a budget to make something super cool
I did the Department of the Navy’s Summer Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) for two years. They have programs in naval bases all around the country; looks like the closest to you would be in Monterey. You work for eight weeks as an apprentice assigned to an engineering group helping them with whatever work they’re doing. It’s good real-world engineering experience, plus you’d be getting paid $3500 instead of having to pay for a program.
To add onto this, there’s lots of great kits and projects for Pi and Arduino.
Even Mindstorms if you’re into that kinda stuff, although it can have a pretty significant price tag.
WPI has a good program over the summer for upcoming juniors and seniors. I didn’t participate in one but I’ve taught at it. They have courses in robotics, aero and mechanical. https://www.wpi.edu/academics/pre-collegiate/summer/stem-residential/frontiers
WPI is on the list! Glad to hear you recommend it.
What are the most valuable things you find kids learn from these experiences?
I’m trying to compare some of the summer programs that are grades 9-12 to those that are 11, 12 or just 12. I’m leaning towards encouraging the 11/12 programs. I think it would be helpful for him to go learn a little about himself with others in his same life stage, figure out what he likes and doesn’t like about type of college, location, etc. and meet new people. We think it might help him better define his college interests and list. Is that a reasonable assumption?
Finally, I assume that these programs do not sway a college one way or the other towards a student if they apply, though a few reps I’ve talked with have suggested that it does make an impression. Any opinion on that?
Operation Catapult is on the list! What did you feel was the most valuable parts of that experience for you?
His FIRST team is school related, and the team doesn’t operate over the summer, though I’m hoping they’ll work on things separately. I’m always happy to help a group of kids make cool things though, so no worries there.
I think the main thing kids learn from WPI frontiers is how to do something hands on. They aren’t just learning in a theoretical sense, they want the kids to try the projects themselves and experiment, whether that leads to success or failure. The other thing is that if a kid is unsure about what potential major they want to do in college, they get to see up close what the major is like.
So frontiers does end up showing off wpi. You learn what the community and classes are like, because its wpi students teaching and teaching the curriculum based on their own classes. Frontiers is also residential right on wpi’s campus, so they get to see some of the dorms and food. But any college program that is on a college campus will do this, try to make their college seem better. WPI does not say you have to apply because you did the college program, they just want the kids to have fun and learn what college life is like.
At Rose we got a chance to work hands on on a project of your choice — I went with the biomedical engineering group. Me and a couple other students decided to make a prototype of a prosthetic for leg amputees. It used the electrical impulses of the muscle to actuate an ankle.
It was really interesting learning about college life, and it was awesome to get to work with professors in projects and learning.
Even though I didn’t end up going to Rose, it was really helpful to be able to learn about the college experience from our counselors/guides
Do the colleges that hold the programs pay any attention to whether students attended them when they are looking at applications?
There’s so little info on any of the websites, it’s hard to know how to help my son make a decision. On the list are: WPI, Purdue, RPI, Kettering, Rose-Hulman. More generalized programs (and 9th-12th grade) are Summer Discoveries at SLO or Boulder, but I think there’s less to be gained from those.
Any suggestions how to decide?
It doesn’t seem to be a huge factor, if it is one at all.
Ask people in the community (FRC, etc) who have done them and see how they liked it!