Every summer, the UCLA High School Summer Research Program (HSSRP) offers 60 passionate high school students unique opportunities of researching at distinguished university laboratories. Assigned to fields of engineering ranging from electrical to biomedical, students attended this year’s program from mid-June until its conclusion on Friday, August 16.
Upon being selected from a pool of highly-qualified applicants, HSSRP students are assigned a unique project to be completed by the end of the program under the guidance and supervision of an undergraduate or PhD. student in the lab. However, unlike the average science program, students are expected to tackle challenging issues in their field that may or may not lead to a successful project.
In an interview, engineering department associate dean Richard Wesel stated, “This program is unlike any other summer program because the projects students are assigned may bear great success or complete failure. But that’s the true beauty of research.”
In addition to their projects, students are exposed to different career pathways they could possibly take after completing an undergraduate degree in engineering. 2013 participants attended presentations by high-tech companies such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin and renowned UCLA engineering professors such as Internet pioneer Leonard Kleinrock and Professor Yang Yang, the current leader in the research for the most efficient solar cells.
William Herrera, the HSSRP Program Coordinator, said, “Students are given a rare opportunity to understand the essence of research and possibly what it means to contribute and make a lasting difference in the field.”
Participants in this year’s program gave it high marks.
According to Kevin Li, a rising senior at Bravo Medical High School, “This program has given me the opportunity to experience what it’s like to research completely uncharted areas of science as well as what it feels and takes to pursue a PhD.”
“This program has really influenced me in finalizing my aspiration to seek a PhD” said Cesar Trujillo, a rising senior at SOAR High School. “It’s always exciting going to lab every day and not knowing what kind of results to expect at the end of your experiments. Everyday, the lab encourages an atmosphere of success and it’s amazing to be doing what I do so early in life.”
As a culminating event, these students prepared posters of the work they completed throughout the eight weeks in the program. The posters all the components of a professional research paper: an abstract, materials & methods, future applications, and conclusion.
To participate in the 2014 or 2015 HSSRP, prospective students must provide a transcript, a personal statement and three letters of recommendation. The application process will begin in January and end in March. Visit https://esc.seas.ucla.edu/ for more information.