Center for Power Optimization of Electro-thermal Systems

Young Scholars Research Program

The POETS Young Scholars Research Program is an opportunity for high school students to advance their goal of pursing higher education. 

Our scholars are able to participate in an authentic research experience at a world-class research university, under the mentorship of a faculty member or graduate student. Scholars additionally receive one-on-one coaching and advising from a teacher mentor, who help coach the student through their research experience. 

Additionally, students participate in weekly seminars on various topics including research projects, college readiness, and scientific communication. The ultimate goal of this program is to make students feel comfortable in a university setting, form a science identity, and gain confidence in attending college. 

The summer of 2017 was our pilot year for the Young Scholars Program at the University of Illinois. The summer of 2021 we will have our Young Scholars work on teams of two high school students and one high school teacher. This will allow more research progress to be made, and allow the students to gain more mentoring opportunities. This effort is supported by a National Science Foundation REM supplement award

The POETS Young Scholar/REM program is apart of the UIUC Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Program. Through this program we partner with various Engineering Departments across campus, allowing us to share programming and widen the network of students our program participants are able to network with. 

Program Dates

  • June 14th, 2021 through July 30th, 2021
    • Pre-training will occur June 7th  - 11th. This will involve fun group activities and preliminary research training.
    • Student will work closely with the POETS REU program.
    • This year the program will be fully remote.

Program Goals

  • Introduce students to scientific research and promote career opportunities in the field
  • Help students gain knowledge in a variety of science applications
  • Help students gain an understanding of science and its local and global impact

Student Benefits

  • Work in a cutting-edge research
  • Pursue higher education goals
  • Builds resume
  • Get a taste of college life
  • Gain professional development skills
  • $2000 summer stipend!

What does a remote research program involve?

Over the summer Young Scholars will be paired with one other student and a math/science teacher from their high school. They will meet virtually on a daily basis to discuss the research topic and plans for the day. Various online activities will be planned by the program to expose students to research practices, college life and professional development. All students will be required to present their research findings at the end of the summer at a final virtual research symposium.

What's the difference between the POETS, Physics and BioEngineering/SPHERES summer programs?

All programs have the same goals and program structure. The difference is the research you will be doing in each program. 

  • POETS: POETS does research in the space of electrical engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering. We work on electric airplanes, electric cars and electric manufacturing equipment. If you are interested in circuits, hands-on projects, building, or programming then the POETS program is right for you. We also require all students to participate in a year long program.
  • Physics: If you are interested in dark matter, lasers or materials then the PhYSics Young Scholars program may be right for you:
  • Bioengineering: If you are interested in merging your biology and engineering interests, then the SPHERES Young Scholars program may be right for you:
  • Regardless of which program you are interested in, you will be applying through the same application system (see details below). In your essay, you can discuss which research you are most interested in getting involved in this summer.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Rising high school junior or senior at time of application
  • Underrepresented group
  • Must be within driving distance of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Willing to participate in a year long research program (2hr a month during the school year)
  • Willingness to present research results at Emerging Research Network (ERN) conference in DC in Spring 2022.


  • Two short essays: 
    • Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now What would you like to be doing for a career? (100 words)
    • Please explain your interest in this program and describe how you have recently explored or developed this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. Describe the impact that this program will have on your future. (500 words max)
  • Include a brief introduction about yourself & background
  • Discuss science interests & experiences
  • Online application link will be updated here when avaliable.
  • Due: OPENS in the month of March and will be due in early April 2021

2020 Calendar of Events

2020 YS calendar

POETS Young Scholars in the News

Young Scholars get change to do real research in UI Labs (Jul 2019)

Young Scholars gain authentic research experience (Aug 2018)

POETS 2017 summer education activities (Aug 2017)

Previous Calendar of Events

Program Schedule & Calendar of Events

For more information please contact Joe Muskin and Dr. Phil Krein.

POETS Young Scholar Avrille Turner presents her research during the poster session.



Central High School students Rola Abudayeh, left, and Madisen LeShoure explain Friday the micro goniometer they are using to research hydrophobic surfaces in a laboratory on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana.