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Engineering Summer Scholars

This Engineering Summer Scholars program is designed to reduce attrition among incoming engineering freshmen by creating a small-campus feel. Scholars come to campus during the summer and take courses, including a projects course they take together. The program is designed to help them adjust to life as students, become familiar with campus, and form support groups before the fall influx of students. An external evaluation found the program may help students (especially international students) adjust to the new culture and learn about professional networks.

Summer Scholars is available to all incoming first-year engineering students. It enables students to get a jump-start on college, meet new friends, and get acclimated to campus all before the fall semester. This program is focused on providing students with a successful transition to Illinois, enhancing their leadership skills, increasing their academic performance for the first year, and giving them the opportunity to explore their interests and passions. This program allows them to not wait until fall to begin their college experience, but start in the summer.


In Summer Scholars students will enroll as a full-time student during “Summer Session 2”(mid-June through early to mid August), taking 6-8 credits (2-3 courses). Scholars will participate in fun activities, workshops and events, and courses.

Students will choose a themed cohort and will be provided resources and opportunities to dive deep into their chosen theme and explore engineering.

  • Mentoring. Advanced engineering students will serve as both your residence hall advisor and your teaching assistant in your Scholar Cohort course. This is a unique mentoring opportunity, having your RAs and TAs be the same, experienced students. These Resident Project Advisors (RPAs) are trained peer leaders who assist with mentoring, tutoring, community development, and class work. 
  • Eligibility. First-year students admitted to (a) the College of Engineering, (b) Agricultural and Bioengineering, or (c) Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are eligible to apply.
  • Choosing a Scholar Cohort. Students will choose a cohort based on a theme. Each cohort will live together and take a course together. All of the themes emphasize engineering, collaboration, and leadership.
  • Engineering Projects. Students can learn problem-solving strategies, project management, and teamwork, and create projects of their own design and interests.
  • Service Learning. Students can work on real-world projects and have lasting impact in the community while they increase civic engagement.
  • Research. Students can learn about research methods and topics around campus, connect with research faculty, and conduct research of their own.
  • Professional Development. Students will have opportunity to shadow professional engineers in the workplace and learn to enhance their professional and communication skills.
  • Courses. Their course schedule in the summer will be 6-8 credits (depending on course selection), classifying them as full-time students in Summer Session 2. Students will enroll in 1) a course of their choosing; 2) the Scholar Cohort Course in the area of a) Service-Learning; b) Engineering Projects; c) Research; or d) Professional Development; and/or 3) Summer Scholars Seminar.

In the Summer Scholars Seminar students will be introduced to campus resources, engineering faculty, and company representatives. A few companies that participate are Rolls Royce, Boeing, Caterpillar, Yahoo, and others.

The top ten reasons to be a summer scholar are as follows:

  • Make new friendships
  • Get ahead
  • Earn college credit
  • Explore campus in a relaxed atmosphere
  • Learn about the university, opportunities, and resources
  • Spend quality time with faculty and industry representatives
  • Work on cool projects of your own design
  • Gain leadership skills
  • Be mentored by advanced engineering students
  • Have fun!