The Wright Scholar Research Assistant program is an Air Force Research Laboratory initiative designed to expose high school juniors and seniors to various disciplines of engineering and science in an effort to further their interest in future STEM career options. Wright Scholars are employed as full-time, paid interns for 9 weeks during the summer. A panel of scientists, engineers, and educators will use a “blind” review system to select the students (names and other personal data are removed from applications prior to review to prevent biases). Students are competitively selected to work on a research project under the guidance of their assigned mentors. They also participate in weekly workshops, lectures, and tours to expand their knowledge of potential science and engineering career fields. At the end of the program, Wright Scholars are required to present their project work to their peers and mentors, and a program certificate is awarded.
The Air Force Institute of Technology provides a jet propulsion course for Wright Scholars. Students also travel to the University of Dayton to participate in a variety of classes and workshops through their Summer Science and Engineering Enrichment program. Wright State University's College of Engineering & Computer Science offers an engineering workshop, while the College of Science and Mathematics offers a Pre-Health programs lecture and tour of the medical school.Other tours, such as the C-17, AF Museum, and various AFRL locations, are also popular. Additionally, students attend weekly lecture series featuring prominent scientists and engineers who share their expertise.
Applicants are solicited from local high schools, but the program is open to any students outside the area or out-of-state who meet the criteria. No travel allowances are available, and the student is solely responsible for housing, meals, and transportation to/from work.
Some of the program features this year’s class of Wright Scholars liked best included:“learning so much about research, how to use machines in labs, and about the work force/Air Force in general;” “meeting people who are working in the profession I want to go into;” “being exposed to different facets of science, engineering, and research;” “the chance to solve real problems with real engineers;” “learning about advanced research;” “working in a field related to engineering unlike any other job I could have found;” “it was all about learning – whether in my job or through the various lectures and classes;” “working with my mentor and other lab personnel in a research lab;” “meeting lots of interns with similar interests and making connections;” “gaining the knowledge to plan out my future;” “learning more than just scientific skills, but life skills as well.”
Since program onset in 2002, approximately 532 Wright Scholars have been hired from 82 school districts. Many have graduated from college or are attending college in engineering and science (including medical) career fields. Upon college graduation, several have been hired as AFRL researchers and some are Air Force officers with engineering degrees, while others have received SMART scholarships, including paid college tuition with government service payback. Of students tracked over the years, 91% pursued or are pursuing STEM careers, 6% pursued or are pursuing medical careers, and 3% pursued other fields.
So how do I become a Wright Scholar? Applications will be accepted from 20 Nov 2017 through 8 Jan 2018. Student applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
· Must have a demonstrated interest in STEM career fields
· Must be a high school junior or senior at time of application
· Must be a U.S. citizen. Program is not open to Permanent Residents or Green Card holders.
· Must be 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license by program start
· Must have own transportation OR a means to get to/from work place each day with someone who already has base access. Passes for base access will ONLY be issued to student intern.
· Must have overall GPA of 3.5 or higher. Home-school students are considered if they score in the top 20% on a national standardized test such as the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or ACT.
· If you live out-of-state or a long distance from WPAFB, you must be responsible for securing your own temporary housing AND transportation. Program administration will not be responsible for making suitable arrangements on a scholar’s behalf.
· Must be able to pass background check
· Must be available to start program on 4 June 2018 and attend mandatory first-day orientation.
· Must commit to mandatory attendance policy during first week and also during student presentations at end of program. No absences (except emergency or illness) will be allowed during first week.
· Must be able to participate 40 hrs/wk for 9 weeks -- this is a full-time commitment.
· May not request more than 5 days of excused absence during the program (illness is excluded). Excessive or unexcused absences will be grounds for dismissal.
Those students who cannot meet the minimum work requirement or adhere to the attendance policy are ineligible for the program.