Six weeks of lectures, computer classes, college campus, field trips, and lab work in the middle of a summer vacation. Sound like the way most juniors in high school spend their summer? Well, that's the way twenty-five high school juniors and sophomores (and I) spent summer vacation. The program is called Northeastern University's Young Scholars Program. It is an internship in the field of engineering and sciences which actually pays students $600 for attending.
During the twelve weeks, the group took a total of ten field trips, where we learned about a particular branch of engineering. We saw first-hand the jobs people do in each field, what degrees are necessary, and what the real world outside the classroom is like. I learned from these field trips that not only do people use engineering to do the obvious (which most equate with engineers), but they also work in fields ranging from environmental research to medical technology.
In my lab, I worked on an electron microscope worth over $138,000. My lab partner and I had to pass two tests before being allowed to work on it. After two weeks, we finally started to use the microscope and do experiments. Our project was to see if it was possible to use this machine to draw lines onto a silicon wafer by using a process called Micro Lithography. The experiments we did proved it was possible, but we also were instructed to draw a set pattern on a piece of silicon.
The program also consists of lectures and field trips which taught me about the possibilities available in engineering and the salaries in different areas. I also learned about the number of women who work in the electrical engineering department compared to the chemical engineering department, where two out of ten are women. Even with these percentages, women actually have an advantage in the field. I learned about scholarships colleges offer women in engineering to encourage women.
The Young Scholars Program wasn't just fun because of the people, but the college atmosphere added to the fun. I went to the Northeastern campus every day and saw students going to classes, participated in a taste-test for a marketing class, and met a few really nice seniors in the process.
I would suggest this program to anyone who is interested in science and engineering. You'll learn a lot, have a lot of fun, and the best part is that they pay you for attending. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.