ASPIRE High School Mentoring Program

ASPIRE is a program for high school juniors and seniors to explore the real-world applications of STEM at APL. Students are matched with APL staff members to work on technical projects in a subject area of interest to the student. APL partners with local schools to provide this extension of the student’s educational learning environment. Depending on the school district, students may receive academic credit toward graduation or a certificate of completion.

ASPIRE is a competitive program. Applying does not guarantee acceptance.

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Minimum Requirements
  • High school junior or senior during program participation. Students applying to the Summer Program must not have graduated.
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0
  • Grade of B or better in STEM subjects
  • Reliable transportation to APL throughout the program
  • No criminal record (background investigations are required)

The program requires that students have good analytical skills, mature judgment, the ability to function independently, good written and oral communication skills, and the ability to learn new knowledge and skills. Students must be committed to the program and its time requirements.

ASPIRE Areas of Placement

APL places the majority of students in computer science and engineering areas, including aeronautical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, cybersecurity, and applied mathematics internships. There are limited placements in chemistry, biology, biomedical engineering, and neuroscience; students applying for these areas are significantly less likely to be placed at APL.

Academic Year Session (September–May)
  • Students must begin the program no later than October 1.
  • Students must commit to spending a minimum of 5 hours a week on site at APL.
  • Students must complete an abstract and presentation before the session concludes.
  • Students must receive credit or formal recognition from their school for the program.
  • The student’s school or parents must agree to pay for a background investigation (approximately $19).

Session Timeline:

April 15

Applications open.

May 30

Applications close.

June 1 – September 1

Mentors review applications, interview students, and extend an invitation to the program.

September 1–30

Orientations are held for accepted students. Matching and placements continue through September.

September 15 – October 1

ASPIRE students start program.

Summer Session (June–August)
  • Students must commit to attending the program for a minimum of 6 weeks (maximum of 8 weeks) with no more than a 1-week break within the 6 weeks.
  • Summer students must begin the program no later than July 1.
  • Students must commit to spending a minimum of 15 hours a week on site at APL during the program.
  • Students must complete an abstract before the session concludes.
  • The student’s school or parent(s) must agree to pay for a background investigation (approximately $19).

Session Timeline:

January 1

Summer applications open.

February 15

Summer applications close.

March 1 – May 30

Mentors review applications, interview students, and extend an invitation to the program.

June 1 – July 1

Orientations are held for accepted students.

June 15 – July 1

Summer ASPIRE students start program.

ASPIRE Application Process
  • The ASPIRE application period is now open for the 2016–2017 academic session, which runs from September to May. Applications are accepted through the online application system. The applications period ends on May 30, 2016.
  • To be notified when applications are being accepted, join the ASPIRE mailing list.
  • The application includes a personal statement of 500 words or less that describes what areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics the student is most interested in; any experience they may have; and any other information they would like to share with potential mentors.
  • Two letters of recommendation are required. You must enter the recommenders’ e-mail addresses, and they will upload the letter directly. One recommendation letter must be from a teacher in a STEM subject.
  • Upload your resume, transcripts (an unofficial transcript is fine), and counselor form (download from the APL application site).
  • You will receive a confirmation e-mail that your application is complete after you click the Submit button.
  • If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by the potential mentor directly. Being selected for an interview does not guarantee acceptance. Students who are not accepted after interviewing will be placed back on the list of available students.
  • If you are selected, you will receive an acceptance package. If you are not selected, you will return to the pool of applicants for other mentors to review.
  • All students will be notified of their status at the end of the review cycle before orientations start.