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Top Internships in Mechanical Engineering for High School Students

5 minute read

For high school students who want to be a mechanical engineer, gaining hands-on internship experience can be instrumental in academic and professional development. Mechanical engineering interns learn to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, develop practical skills, and make informed decisions about their future career paths. 

In this article, we will explore some of the top internships in mechanical engineering specifically designed for high school students, focusing on the benefits, challenges, and the valuable skills gained through these experiences.

If you want to further your career beyond internships, check out our recommendations for top mechanical engineering schools and learn what you can do with an engineering degree.

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Top Mechanical Engineering Internships for High School Students

1. NASA Internship Program

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offers internships for high school students interested in mechanical engineering. The NASA internship program provides a unique opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects related to space exploration, robotics, and aerospace engineering. Students gain exposure to advanced technologies and collaborate with leading experts in the field.

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 for agency-wide consideration. Stipends for OSTEM interns are determined based on academic level and the duration of the session, and prior experience is not a prerequisite. Opportunities are open for high school, undergraduate, graduate, and educator levels.

Key Dates for the Summer 2024 Session:

Rolling Decision Deadline for Applications: February 2, 2024
Learn more here.

2. Siemens PLM Software: Solid Edge Design Internship

Siemens PLM Software offers the Solid Edge Design Internship, providing high school students with hands-on experience in computer-aided design (CAD). This internship focuses on developing skills in 3D modeling, simulation, and product development using industry-standard software. A design engineering intern gets a taste of the design process and its application in real-world engineering projects. Application criteria and exact roles differ, and you can find more information under the Siemens website, and Stories on the Internship Program here.

3. General Electric (GE) High School Internship

General Electric offers a high school internship program that exposes students to various aspects of mechanical engineering. The program covers areas such as manufacturing, research and development, and project management. Interns work on actual GE projects, gaining practical experience and insight into the operations of a global engineering conglomerate. Check out the GE Aerospace Engines Engineering Intern/Co-op - Summer 2024 program here. Application criteria and exact opportunities differ for each summer engineering intern, so it’s best to look on the website for the most updated details. 

4. MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science) Program

While not exclusively focused on mechanical engineering, the MITES program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is an excellent opportunity for high school students interested in STEM fields. The program exposes students to a range of engineering disciplines, including mechanical engineering, through hands-on projects, workshops, and lectures.

5. Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation Program

The Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation Program is a summer engineering internship designed for high school students interested in mechanical engineering, computer engineering, and more. Participants engage in college-level coursework, laboratory experiments, and team projects. This program provides a taste of university-level engineering education and fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

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Challenges and Solutions

While the benefits of high school mechanical engineering internship experience are substantial, challenges can arise, such as the need for specialized knowledge, time constraints, and the potential for limited opportunities. To address these challenges, educational institutions, industry partners, and students can collaborate to create tailored solutions.

1. Specialized Knowledge

Challenge: High school students may lack the specialized knowledge required for certain internships.

Solution: Educational institutions can offer preparatory courses or workshops to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge before applying for internships. Industry partnerships can facilitate these initiatives by providing insights into the specific requirements of internships.

2. Time Constraints

Challenge: High school students often have busy academic schedules, making it challenging to balance internships with their coursework.

Solution: Internship programs can be structured to accommodate the academic calendar, offering flexible schedules during weekends or school breaks. Additionally, institutions can collaborate with companies to provide virtual internship opportunities, reducing the need for physical presence and allowing for greater flexibility.

3. Limited Opportunities

Challenge: The number of available internships may be limited, leading to intense competition among high school students.

Solution: Educational institutions and industry partners can work together to expand internship opportunities. Establishing a network of companies willing to offer internships to high school students and creating awareness about the benefits of such programs can help increase the number of available positions.

Skills Gained Through High School Internships

Participating in internships during high school not only enhances students' academic knowledge but also equips them with a range of valuable skills essential for success in the field of mechanical engineering and beyond.

1. Practical Application of Knowledge

Internships provide students with the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world projects. This practical experience enhances their understanding of fundamental concepts and principles.

2. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

Working on engineering projects exposes a mechanical engineering intern to complex challenges that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These skills are essential for overcoming obstacles and finding innovative solutions in the professional world.

3. Communication and Collaboration

Collaborating with professionals and fellow interns during an internship fosters effective communication and teamwork. Mechanical engineers often work in interdisciplinary teams, and the ability to communicate ideas is crucial for project success.

4. Time Management

Balancing the demands of an internship with academic responsibilities requires effective time management. High school students learn to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and manage their time efficiently—a skill that will serve them well in their future careers.

5. Adaptability and Flexibility

The dynamic nature of engineering projects often requires adaptability. High school students learn to navigate changing circumstances, adjust to new information, and remain flexible in their approach to problem-solving.

Polygence Scholars Are Also Passionate About

Mechanical Engineering Projects Completed by Polygence Students

  • Polygence student Youssef's project addresses the challenges faced by traditional rovers on sandy terrains, proposing the use of 4-bar linkages as a dynamic mechanism to prevent wheel entrapment, demonstrated through modeling with software like Mathematica and Solidworks and validated with FEA, ultimately creating TitanWandelaar—a rover equipped with an Arduino, sensors, and a sand analysis station for simulated Martian conditions.

  • Polygence student Mir’s project focuses on advancing the development of nuclear fusion reactors by meticulously selecting structural materials to ensure safe, cost-efficient, and reliable power plants. By experimenting with various materials, the study measures displacement per atom (DPA) to minimize radiation risks, revealing the relative strength of materials under fusion reactions. 

What next?

The benefits of participating in top internships in mechanical engineering extend beyond academic growth, encompassing personal development, career exploration, and the establishment of valuable professional connections. Explore exciting opportunities in mechanical 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 Mechanical Engineering.