The Engineering Saturday Program: STEM Saturdays

2017 Fall STEM-Saturdays Application now available here.

Application Deadline: June 30, 2017

Duration: September 16 to November 18, 2017 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Lunch, snack, and Metrocards provided.

In an effort to expand the STEM pipeline in New York City, Cooper Union piloted a Saturday Program during the Spring and Fall 2016 semesters.  For ten consecutive Saturdays each semester, high school students were immersed in a hands-on, minds-on learning environment geared toward exposing them to the breadth of STEM careers.

Taught by Cooper Union undergraduates and graduate students, called ‘mentors’, the program allows high school students to design, analyze, build, test, and present their solution to a real-world engineering problem.

The STEM Saturdays Program has been awarded grants by both the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Pinkerton Foundation to continue these experiences for the 2017 calendar year.  One 10-week session for 20 NYC high school student will be offered during both the Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 semesters, building on the success from the pilot programs in 2016.

Students are divided into teams of about four students each as they proceed to solving an engineering problem posed at the beginning of the program.  Cooper Union mentors guide the students through the design and prototyping process, while important professional skills like technical communication and teamwork skills are developed.  The program includes career counseling and college planning sessions with Cooper Union staff members.

The daily schedule is divided into a morning session, a working lunch, and an afternoon session.  The morning session focuses on fundamental knowledge-building where students are given a lesson on a specific topic and/or skill.  During the working lunch, the students watch a video lecture or presentation (20 minutes) on a topic that is timely and relevant to their academic development.  A half hour is then spent mentoring students on a discussion of the video and how the topic discussed relates to their lives.  The afternoon session is then dedicated to applying the fundamental skills taught in the morning to the problem they are solving.

The program culminates with a technical presentation where student teams try to convince a panel of invited guests and judges to invest in their product. The students on the winning team will all receive a monetary prize.

The program is subsidized by donations and grants that cater to students of underserved populations in the STEM fields, including girls, minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and those with disabilities.  Students from these groups are especially encouraged to apply.

Fall Semester Program

During the first half of this program, students are 1) exposed to two- and three-dimensional technical visualization as they learn computer-aided drafting (CAD), 2) trained on the use of 3D printers, laser cutters, and basic hand and power tools, and 3) taught basic electronics and computer programming using microntrollers.  This first module provides students with the fundamental knowledge-base they need to design their engineering solution which contains numerous mechanical elements.  During the second module, the students design and prototype their solution to the engineering problem posed.

Spring Semester Program

The focus of the Spring Semester Program is a more in-depth understanding of microcontroller applications and computer programming skills.  Microcontroller kits (similar to the one found here) and laptop computers will be provided to each student during the ten Saturdays.  Students who successfully complete all the assignments and have perfect attendance will be allowed to take the kits and laptops home to keep at the conclusion of the program.  The student teams will have to pitch their ideas to the class and to invited guests throughout the program as they 1) vet their ideas for marketability to others, 2) develop their presentation skills, and 3) fine-tune their understanding of the problem that was posed.

Additional Details

Teaching Staff: One Cooper Union staff member will be on site at all times.  Students will be taught by at least three mentors in each class.

Other notes: Lunch and a snack will be provided, as will Metrocards.

Eligibility: Students enrolled in a New York City high school (9th-12th grade).

For additional information, please contact:

Prof George Delagrammatikas
Program Director, STEM Outreach
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

The STEM Saturdays program is made possible through generous donations from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Pinkerton Foundation

sloan logo

Pinkerton logo


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.