Penn Summer Science Initiative (PSSI)

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

Response to the COVID-19

Update (3/2/2022): Candidates for the PSSI program are currently being reviewed and evaluated. While this process will take some time, the team requests that applicants keep an eye on their email. Notifications and offers will be sent no later than June 1st.

Update (1/10/2022): Adhering to public health and university guidelines, proof of full COVID vaccination will be required before the start of the program. We will also require masking in all of our indoor spaces, regardless of the distance between individuals. Should any guidelines change, we will adhere to them to keep all participants as safe as possible.

Update (9/16/2021): We are planning to run this as an in-person program. We are staying vigilant and monitoring all communications regarding health risks pertaining to COVID-19 and COVID-19 variants so that we can make informed decisions that do not jeopardize the well-being of anyone involved. We will provide any updates using this website based on the information we receive.

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 the Delaware Valley 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. Student should apply through our on-line application form. The application will require a resume, school transcript, and two letters of recommendation.

Penn Summer Science Initiative 2022

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 5 – July 28, 2022 (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. Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.

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, 2022.

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.

Students must arrange for 2 recommendation forms to be uploaded at

For Recommenders: A recommendation form should be uploaded at

more information:

Ashley Wallace, Assistant Director, Education & Outreach
Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter
University of Pennsylvania
3231 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6202

Tel. (215) 898-3446
Fax (215) 898-8296