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Young Innovators Program

Young Innovators work on group project

The Young Innovators Program empowers high achieving students for academic and career success in STEM innovation. In partnership with Invenergy, an industry leader in renewable and clean energy generation and the Polsky Foundation, students have access to experiential learning opportunities, mentorship from industry leaders, and a network of entrepreneurial peers.

Program Description

In the June online sessions, students will complete a series of virtual seminars via Zoom led by experts from UChicago and members of industry. These would include the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Career Advancement’s Careers in Entrepreneurship and Careers in Engineering programs, UChicago faculty from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and Invenergy professionals. The seminars will train students in both soft and technical skills and introduce them to the many exciting career paths at the intersection of engineering and entrepreneurship, including bioengineering, renewable energy, founding startups, and venture capital. On top of this skill development, the sessions will include inspiring examples of successful students and alumni in these fields.

In the July in-person sessions, (July 10th – 12th) UChicago will host all participants for a capstone experience on campus. Students will work in teams on a pitch for a new venture (either nonprofit or for-profit) that would use technology to solve a business or social challenge. Students will receive coaching from professionals at Invenergy and the Polsky Center on how to develop and present their pitch. Complementing their pitch development, students will tour campus laboratories, explore the city of Chicago, and complete programming on how to apply for selective colleges and universities. In addition to providing a valuable hands-on experience, the competition would help students build a peer support network.

As part of the capstone experience, students will travel to Invenergy’s Chicago headquarters for an office tour and a discussion panel with industry professionals. Invenergy team members will speak to their experience working in different parts of the industry and provide an inspiring example to students of what they can do with STEM degrees

Program Contact: All questions should be directed to Willem Gerrish at

Application Requirements

Applicants should be at least 14 years of age, currently in 9th or 10th grade, and enrolled in high school in the United States. U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents who meet this criteria are eligible to apply. Our goal is to recruit a diverse group of students from a broad range of backgrounds.

To be considered, applicants must complete an online application, provide an updated high school transcript, and respond to a short essay. A nomination from a teacher or counselor is also recommended, and can be completed here.

The deadline to apply is April 15, 2023. All application decisions for this program will be released at the same time in late April.

Tuition & Fees

Costs, inclusive of tuition, room, and board, for this program are completely covered. Students will need to have their own health insurance. Students who require financial assistance for roundtrip transportation to and from campus may apply for additional funding.

Program Dates

Virtual Sessions
June 19 – 20, 26 - 27

In-person Sessions
July 10 – July 12
Arrival date: Sun., July 9
First session: Mon., July 10
Closing session and move-out: July 12

Download information about the Young Innovators Program