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Top Aerospace Engineering Internships for High School Students

6 minute read

In this article, we will explore some of the top internships in aerospace engineering designed specifically for high school students, highlighting the unique benefits, potential challenges, and invaluable skills gained through these immersive summer program experiences.

Benefits of Internships in Aerospace Engineering

Internships in aerospace engineering offer a plethora of advantages for any high school student aspiring to become a part of the aerospace industry. Firstly, these internships provide a hands-on experience that transcends theoretical knowledge, allowing a high schooler to apply classroom learning to real-world projects. Whether it's designing aircraft components, testing propulsion systems, or exploring the principles of aerodynamics, the practical exposure gained during these internships is essential for prospective students’ comprehensive understanding of aerospace engineering.

Secondly, an aerospace engineering internship or two allows students to explore the vast and multidisciplinary nature of the field. From aeronautics to astronautics, and from propulsion systems to avionics, students get a taste of the diverse specializations within aerospace engineering. This exposure aids them in honing their interests and shaping their future academic and career paths within this exhilarating field.

If you want to further your career beyond internships, check out these engineering competitions for high school students and learn what you can do with an engineering degree.

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Top Internships in Aerospace Engineering for High School Students

1. NASA Aeronautics Internship Program

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offers a specialized internship program for high school seniors interested in aeronautics. Participants get the chance to work on projects ranging from aircraft design to airspace management, collaborating with NASA scientists and engineers.

To be eligible for this internship, applicants must be U.S. citizens and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. These paid internships are accessible across various NASA facilities during fall, spring, and summer sessions. The application process is centralized, with one application being considered agency-wide. Stipends for OSTEM interns are determined based on academic level and the duration of the session, and prior experience is not a prerequisite. Intern opportunities are open for students in high school, college, graduate school, and educator levels.

Key Dates for the Summer 2024 Session:

Rolling Decision Deadline for Applications: February 2, 2024
Learn more here: https://www.nasa.gov/learning-resources/internship-programs/ 

2. Lockheed Martin High School Internship Program

Lockheed Martin is a global aerospace and defense company that provides high school students with internship opportunities in various aerospace engineering disciplines. Interns work on projects related to space exploration, satellite systems, and advanced aeronautics technologies. Below are a few internships for high school students, funded by Lockheed Martin:

  • Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, including programming to strengthen their interest and confidence in pursuing STEM education and careers.

  • Project Lead The Way empowers undergraduate students to develop and apply in-demand, transportable skills by exploring real-world challenges in engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity.

  • Million Girls Moonshot seeks to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators by engaging one million more girls in STEM learning opportunities through after-school and summer programs.

  • FIRST designs accessible and innovative robotics programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM, while building knowledge and life skills.

3. Boeing High School Internship Program

Boeing is another leading aerospace company that offers a high school internship program that exposes students to the world of aerospace engineering. Interns may work on projects related to aircraft design, manufacturing processes, and innovative technologies shaping the future of aviation. You can find more information here.

4. SpaceX Internships

While SpaceX generally offers internships for university students, there are occasionally opportunities available for high school juniors and seniors as well. These internships provide a unique chance to be part of projects related to rocket design, space missions, and cutting-edge aerospace technologies. Here is the current lineup of internship opportunities for Spring and Summer 2024.

5. MIT Lincoln Laboratory Beaver Works Summer Institute

The MIT Lincoln Laboratory hosts the Beaver Works Summer Institute, providing high school students with an immersive aerospace engineering experience. The program covers a range of topics, including satellite systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and space exploration. Note: the online courses for the 2024 program will be opened on Feb 1, 2024 and registrations are processed on a rolling basis. For the students who cannot attend in person, registrations for the online courses will open in December 2023.

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Challenges and Solutions

While aerospace engineering internships for high school students offer incredible opportunities, certain challenges may arise. Addressing these challenges requires collaborative efforts to ensure that the internships are accessible, educational, and safe for participants.

1. Advanced Technical Knowledge

Challenge: High school students may lack the advanced technical knowledge required for certain aerospace engineering projects.

Solution: Preparatory workshops or online courses can be organized to equip students with foundational knowledge before the start of the internship. These programs can cover basic principles of aerodynamics, propulsion systems, and other essential concepts.

2. Safety Concerns in Aerospace Environments

Challenge: Aerospace engineering involves working with complex machinery and potentially hazardous materials.

Solution: Strict safety protocols, mentorship from experienced professionals, and proper supervision can ensure a safe learning environment. Internship programs can also provide safety training sessions to familiarize students with industry standards.

3. Limited Access to Aerospace Facilities

Challenge: Access to state-of-the-art aerospace facilities may be limited due to security measures.

Solution: Virtual tours, simulations, and remote projects can be integrated into internship programs to provide students with insights into aerospace facilities and technologies without physical access.

Skills Gained Through Aerospace Engineering Internships

Participating in aerospace engineering internships during high school provides students with a diverse set of skills essential for success in this dynamic and innovative field.

1. Technical Proficiency

Internships in aerospace engineering enhance students' technical proficiency, granting them the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world projects. Skills in aircraft design, propulsion systems, and avionics technologies are honed through hands-on experience.

2. Problem-solving and Critical Thinking

Aerospace engineering projects often involve complex problem-solving. High school students develop critical thinking skills as they tackle challenges related to aerodynamics, flight dynamics, and the optimization of aerospace systems throughout their summer internships.

3. Collaboration and Teamwork

Working on aerospace projects requires collaboration with peers and professionals. Students learn to work effectively in teams, an essential skill in the collaborative nature of aerospace engineering projects.

4. Innovation and Creativity

Aerospace engineering is a field that thrives on innovation. Internships encourage students to think creatively, proposing and implementing novel solutions to engineering challenges.

5. Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial in aerospace engineering projects. High school students develop communication skills as they articulate their ideas, present findings, and collaborate with team members and industry professionals.

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Final Thoughts

Aerospace engineering internships for high school students pave the way for future innovators and engineers to contribute to the exciting advancements in aviation and space exploration. The hands-on experiences, exposure to cutting-edge technologies, and mentorship from industry experts provide a solid foundation for students to pursue higher education and careers in aerospace engineering.

As the aerospace industry continues to evolve, high school internships play a vital role in inspiring the next generation of aerospace engineers. These transformative experiences not only shape students' understanding of the field but also instill a passion for exploration, innovation, and the pursuit of knowledge that will propel them to new heights in their academic and professional journeys.

Explore exciting opportunities in aerospace engineering by applying for internships listed above or engaging in a research project with one of our knowledgeable Polygence Mentors. As a mentor myself, I'm here to guide you through the intricacies of these internships or assist you in crafting a personalized research experience. Whether you choose a structured internship or a dynamic research project, you'll gain valuable insights and hands-on experience in the diverse and innovative field of aerospace engineering.