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Young Innovators Program

young innovators program students pose for a group picture

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.

    "The Young Innovators Program definitely added to my interest in going into an environmental path, and it also let me know there are many ways to do so - I can be an engineer in an environmental company, but I also could be heading sales in the company too! Hearing from all of the panelists and just being in the environment of the Young Innovators Program was incredibly inspiring!"
    Megan C., 2023 Polsky/Invenergy Scholar -

    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 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, 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 willemgerrish@uchicago.edu.

    Application Requirements

    Eligibility: Current students in 9th or 10th grade, who are at least 14 years old, and who are enrolled in a U.S. high school, are invited to apply.

    Applications will be accepted online. The deadline to apply is our Regular Deadline, March 5, 2024. All application decisions for this program will be released at the same time in late April. 

    Applicants must complete the Summer Session Application, and all the related requirements, which can be reviewed in the How to Apply section.

    Application materials include:

    • Online application
    • Transcript 
    • Supplement and essays
    • A nomination from a counselor or teacher is recommended, and can be completed here.
    • At least one parent/guardian confirmation email received.

    Applicants will be asked to respond to the following essay questions in the application:

    • Why did you choose the particular program/courses for which you have applied? How are they related to your current interests and future plans? Please be as specific as possible, and make sure your response covers each of the courses you elected. (Limit: 500 words)
    • “Since its founding, the University has been committed to the idea that a culture of rigorous inquiry requires an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas inform and stimulate intellectual exchange, challenge, and engagement.” -UChicago Office of the Provost. How would you contribute to this culture of inquiry in this program? What do you hope to gain or learn by engaging with peers from all over the U.S. or from different parts of the world? (Limit: 300 words)

    Review the Application Overview pages for more detailed information.

    Costs & Fees

    The application fee is automatically waived for any applicant who selects any Enrichment Program as their first choice.

    Costs, inclusive of tuition, room, and board, for this program are completely covered for selected students. Students will need to have their own health insurance and will need to provide their own transportation to and from campus.

    Students who require financial assistance for roundtrip transportation to and from campus may apply for additional funding by completing the Financial Aid Application as part of the Summer Session application.

    Program Dates

    Virtual Sessions
    Dates will be finalized in early 2024.

    In-person Sessions
    July 28 - August 2, 2024

    • Arrival date: Sun. Jul. 28
    • First session: Mon. Jul. 29
    • Closing session: Wed. Jul. 31
    • Move-out: Wed. Jul. 31