Penn Summer Science Initiative (PSSI)

  • PSSI Students
    Each year a very gifted group of high school students participate in the PSSI program.

Applications for PSSI 2024 are closed.

Summer Course in Materials Science for High School Students

The LRSM has organized a free PSSI four week summer program for local high school students interested in materials science and engineering since 1993. Typically 24-28 students, usually juniors but occasionally well qualified sophomores, are accepted. The program consists of lectures on materials, a computer lab, experimental labs, and field trips to both industrial and Penn facilities. Students are drawn from schools in and around Philadelphia within easy commuting distance of the LRSM. Students from under-represented groups in science are encouraged to apply, especially those from the School District of Philadelphia, women, minorities and the disabled.

Penn Summer Science Initiative 2024

Program Details: The FREE Penn Summer Science Initiative, PSSI, is sponsored by the Penn Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, MRSEC, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. It will accept up to 28 students entering their junior or senior year of high school from the greater Philadelphia region for a four-week intensive materials science course from July 8 – August 1, 2024 (Monday to Thursday). The course will run from approximately 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM daily. The course may include formal lectures from Penn faculty and affiliated researchers, materials science workshops, lab report writing seminars (very useful for college!), projects, hands-on activities, and field trips. Students will get exposure to a variety of materials characterization techniques, such as scanning electron and optical microscopies, thermal analysis techniques, mechanical testing, and x-ray diffraction. Students will be expected to work on reports, projects, and other assignments outside of program hours.

Eligibility: Students will be selected for this program based on their scholastic achievements, resume, interest in science, and recommendations. Students must have taken chemistry and/or physics courses. Qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. We aim to broaden participation and so encourage students with diverse experiences & perspectives to apply. Students must be within daily commuting distance of Penn’s campus to attend the program in person each day (note: there is no option for housing and we do not provide travel support).

How to Apply: Any student wishing to apply to this program should fill out the on-line application form. Submission will require a resume, report card (PDF), and 2 recommendation forms uploaded. The deadline to apply is March 1st, 2024.

NOTE: Applicants must arrange for two adults to submit recommendation forms. One must be from a current or former science teacher. The second recommendation may also be a teacher (of any subject) but can also be a coach, club advisor, school administrator, or other adult who knows about your work ethic and achievements. You may not ask a family member or friend to write a recommendation for you.

more information:

Mark Licurse, Director of Education
Tel. (215) 898-2898
Ashley Wallace, Associate Director of Diversity & Student Engagement
Tel. (215) 898-3446

Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter
University of Pennsylvania
3231 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6202
Fax (215) 898-8296