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07/08/2011 07:00:00

Caltech Summer Program Leads the Way Toward Higher Education for Minority Students

Building upon the institute's mission to benefit society through research integrated with education, Caltech is opening its doors to 23 diverse and gifted high school sophomores and juniors this summer. The LEAD Summer Engineering Institute, held on campus July 6–27, gives students the opportunity to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (or STEM) careers.

This is Caltech's first year of participation in the program, which recruits kids from across the country with competitive GPAs and SAT scores. Students live on campus and take neuroscience and computer science courses taught by graduate students and faculty. At the end of the program, students will be required to give final group presentations on their neuroscience research findings and on their computer science programming projects.  

While the program is rigorous and does include mandatory lab and study time, there is some summer fun built in, too. Weekend activities include trips to the Griffith Observatory and Venice Beach, and events like movie night, BBQs, and swimming.

"What is unique about Caltech's model is the fact that faculty and graduate students are designing and teaching the computer science and neuroscience courses and undergraduates are serving as residential counselors and campus ambassadors," says Eva Graham, director of the Caltech Center for Diversity. "We believe that this approach affords high school students an opportunity to learn from and become a part of our campus community in a way that provides a real pathway to membership."

LEAD began as a business education program to foster the development of a talented and driven pool of African American, Hispanic, underrepresented Asian American, and Native American high school students from across the country. In 2008, LEAD launched LEAD Engineering, a multi-year program to expose sophomore- or junior-year high school students to the world of engineering. For more information on the program, visit the organization's website

Written by Katie Neith