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How to Get the Most out of a Summer Engineering Program: My Experience at WTP

Posted Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 2:26 PM

"Taking a summer engineering program can give you an edge when applying for colleges and look great on your resume. Here are some ideas for how to get the most out of your time."

How to Get the Most out of a Summer Engineering Program: My Experience at WTP

PostedThursday, October 29, 2015 at 2:38 PM

Vivian Li
Vivian Li
How to Get the Most out of a Summer Engineering Program:  My Experience at WTP

Author: Vivian Li

I’m currently a senior in high school.  I’m not an engineer yet, but I’m a step closer.  This past summer, I had the most incredible time at the Women’s Technology Program (WTP) at MIT. WTP is a 4-week program at MIT, where 60 rising senior girls are immersed in rigorous engineering coursework focused on Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, as well as Mechanical Engineering. I participated in the EECS track, which included three weeks of classes in electrical engineering, discrete mathematics, and computer science, and ended with a motor building project. Basically it is a jump start into an engineering career, and it will give me a huge advantage in college when it comes to selecting my major and just being prepared for any technical program.  While WTP is an amazing program, there are also many other summer engineering camps around the country that can give you an automatic step up when it comes to pursuing engineering.  Drawn from my experience, here are some tips for how to get the most out of your summer engineering program!

  • Do the homework. Each day at WTP, we were assigned hours of homework (mostly for computer science), but it was necessary to keep up with the lectures and labs. From spending hours in the Athena clusters working on our surprisiDngly intricate tic-tac-toe codes, to stressing out over the confusing reading for electrical engineering, the homework was a great way to learn the material on my own. Since the program will inevitably be short, daily classes will be fast-paced, and the homework helps put all the concepts into place.
     
  • At the same time, don’t stay in your room all day; go out and meet new friends. During my time, the other girls and I got involved in a card game called Resistance, where we used logic and instinct to deduce who was a spy and who was part of the resistance. The game eventually spread to all of the girls at the camp, and helped us bond and learn each other’s quirks. The girls who got the most out of the camp were the ones who could have fun in a learning environment. Living with other students for a few weeks forces you to engage with the social life, so from awkward bathroom run-ins to group baking sessions, don’t pass up a social activity just to finish your homework.
     
  • Ask for help. At any summer engineering program, you’re bound to be surrounded by tutors who want to help and students who are eager to learn. The tutors and instructors are a fantastic resource, and they want you to learn and succeed. At the same time, the other students you’re with are all being exposed to new material, and you’re definitely not alone when you don’t understand a concept. Students and tutors alike will welcome your questions and stop their work until you get on the same page.
     
  • Explore your surroundings. I was lucky to be able to spend my summer in Cambridge, only a few steps away from Boston. In Cambridge, there was great food, Google tours, and museums. On the other side of the bridge, Boston offered a range of possibilities, from shopping on Newbury Street to walking the Freedom Trail on the Fourth of July. If you’re staying on a college campus, explore the architecture, the surrounding nature, or simply take a walk around the campus. Each college and city will have something different to offer, and you’re sure to find something you love. Even if you don’t love it, you will learn about college life and have something to base your decisions on when it comes to choosing a college or university.
     
  • Keep an open mind. This is definitely the most important quality you can have. At WTP, most students came in without a preset notion of what to expect, and by the end, each student left with a new perspective on engineering. Keep an open mind about the engineering field, the school, and the city. That way you truly allow yourself to explore all that the program has to offer, from courses to outings and activities.