UndergraduateCongratulations on your invitation to McCormick's Summer EXCEL Program!
This is the official resource site for those invited to McCormick's EXCEL program. Here, you can find all of the information about EXCEL's mission, how to sign up, and what to do after you are accepted.
Jump to a Section
- What is EXCEL?
- Mission and Goals
- How it Works
- What Will I Do This Summer?
- What Does it Cost?
- How Do I Sign Up?
- Success Stories
- Additional Documents
EXCEL is an academic summer program for incoming freshmen to the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Northwestern University. Students are selected to participate in our program after a further review of their accomplishments during high school. We identify students who have demonstrated leadership skills and have shown a commitment to diversity.
EXCEL is a cultural leadership development program where students earn 2 academic credits that count toward their engineering degree. During EXCEL, students have the opportunity to meet upperclassmen who are active members of student chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
The relationships that develop during the program provide a support network and a formula for success for engineering students. EXCEL has been in existence for over two decades. Each summer, academically elite and highly motivated students from all over the country invest a portion of their summer on campus developing a community of support that often lasts throughout their collegiate years.
What is EXCEL?
EXCEL was established in 1978 as a five-week summer “bridge” program to increase enrollment and improve retention of minority students that were accepted to the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Historically, EXCEL has been open to all incoming McCormick freshmen who self-identified themselves as being a member of an under-represented minority group. However, in 2004 the admission’s criteria was changed. We now include students of all cultural backgrounds. Students are selected to participate in our program after a further review of their accomplishments during high school. We identify students who have demonstrated leadership skills and a commitment to diversity issues. EXCEL is a cultural leadership development program. The relationships that develop during the program provide a support network and a formula for success for our engineering students. EXCEL has been in existence for over two decades. Each summer, academically elite and highly motivated students from all over the country invest a portion of their summer on campus developing a community of support that often lasts throughout their collegiate years. This year’s summer program is taking place from Saturday, June 25th through Saturday, July 30th. Our goal is to have 25 students enrolled in the program this summer. We have recently have hired 5 upper class counselors who will serve as mentors and tutors for the participants. All of our counselors completed the EXCEL program when they were incoming students.
Mission and Goals
The mission of EXCEL is to provide an environment for the development of a cultural community of support while reinforcing excellence in academics through exposure. Its major goals include the following:
- To provide participants with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the school of engineering and beyond.
- To provide participants with an opportunity to become accustomed to both academic and non-academic facets of Northwestern.
- To provide participants with an opportunity to form bonds with their peers that will benefit them throughout their degree program at Northwestern.
- To expose participants to the various fields of engineering, thereby helping to eliminate uncertainties regarding choice of major or career path.
- To challenge participants to succeed at high academic levels.
Retention and graduation rates of minority engineering students at McCormick are some of the highest in the country – well above the national average. We attribute that to the students who chose to enroll as well as to the resources we offer, particularly the EXCEL summer program. Many students have said they believe their first year in engineering at Northwestern would have been much more difficult if they had not spent five weeks of their summer on campus.
How it Works
During the summer before their first year at McCormick, EXCEL students live on campus and participate in academically rigorous coursework, including leadership classes that help prepare them for their first year of engineering study. EXCEL students earn two academic credits that can be applied toward their graduation requirement or often is used to earn a minor in addition to their major degree. Students who participate in the program form a close social support network and assume many of the leadership roles among the engineering student organizations (e.g. National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, etc.)
For over 30 years, EXCEL has proven very effective in further developing the talents and leadership skills of our underrepresented engineering students. The McCormick School of Engineering is committed to continuing to improve EXCEL and to increasing enrollment in the summer session.
What Will I Do This Summer?
During the five weeks you are on campus you will live together with other program participants in one of the residence halls and get a sense of what college life will be like for you in the fall. You will attend classes in chemistry, calculus and engineering analysis (which combines linear algebra and Matlab computer programming) plus a course in leadership, where you will work as part of a team to solve a real-world engineering problem. Upon successful completion of those courses, you will earn 2 units of academic credit that can be used towards the 48 units required to earn your Bachelor of Science degree! In addition to work in the classroom, there will be a variety of social activities both on and off campus to get you acclimated to Northwestern’s campus and the resources that Chicago has to offer.
What Does it Cost?
Thanks to generous corporate sponsors, Alumni, and Northwestern University, the expenses for two academic credits, room and board, textbooks and transportation* are all covered. Participants are asked to pay a $200 activities fee. However, if a student qualifies for need-based financial aid, this cost can be waived. Please contact us for more information if you have any questions or concerns.
* We cover the cost of round-trip transportation for students who live more than 90-miles outside of Chicago.
How Do I Sign Up?
There is a limit to the number of students who can be accommodated in our program. We cap the program at 25 students. Therefore, please let us know at your earliest opportunity, but no later than May 27th, if you are interested in participating. We will be taking students into the program on a first come basis. Just because you have been invited to participate does not mean we can guarantee you a spot. Therefore, it is to your benefit to contact us as soon as possible if you are interested in participating. To secure your spot, just send a reply email using the registration form that was attached to your invitation email. You will receive a confirmation email to confirm your registration. This program is only open to students who will be attending Northwestern in the fall.
Chanda Davis – EXCEL ’99, MechE ’03 – Chanda grew up outside of Nashville, TN. During her time at Northwestern, she was very active in our student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. She was elected as the Vice Chair and helped the chapter receive national recognition in 2001. She also was a head counselor for EXCEL and even as an alum who lives out of state, finds the time to come back and speak with the current EXCEL students. She works as a Senior Engineer for Procter & Gamble and lives in Cincinnati, OH.
Lourdes Solis – EXCEL ’02, Civil ’06 – When she was 9 years old Lourdes immigrated into the U.S. with her family from Nicaragua. She was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and later college. She majored in Civil Engineering. During her tenure at Northwestern, she was elected President of our student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She worked for GM during her summer internships. She is currently one of the highest ranking Latina’s at Deutsche Bank in NYC. She also has volunteered to serve as an alumni mentor for currently EXCEL participants.
Evan Dickerson-Rusan – EXCEL ’07, MechE ’12- Evan grew up in St. Louis, MO. During his time at Northwestern he served as President of our student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and was a lead member/producer of Northwestern’s Improv group, Out Da’ Box. While working as a summer intern for Baxter, he was an EXCEL counselor/mentor for 2 summers. As an alum, he comes back to campus to meet the current EXCEL participants. He currently works for Boeing and lives in St. Louis, MO.
"From the beginning of school, EXCEL established a support group that pushed us all to do our best. My fellow EXCEEDS are the ones that got me to join clubs, go to office hours and just go the extra mile in general."
"EXCEL introduced me to some amazing people as well as access to plentiful academic resources for me to use during the year. My transition to a college workload was not seamless at first, but the people I met at EXCEL and the things I learned prior to coming to campus for Wildcat Welcome helped immensely and made me feel very supported and familiar with Northwestern."
"EXCEL has helped me to be inclusive of everyone's experiences and has allowed me to grow up personally and professionally as an individual. It warms my heart to see how much growing my EXCEL class has done together. Because of EXCEL, I found SHPE and surrounded myself with wonderful, caring individuals that push each other to succeed in life."
"Without EXCEL I would not be an engineer, plain and simple."