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Summer Class of 2017Summer Class of 2017

McCormick's Summer EXCEL Program

Thank you for your interest in learning more about 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.

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What is EXCEL?

EXCEL is an academic summer program for incoming freshmen to the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Northwestern University. It was established in 1978 as a five-week summer “bridge” program to increase enrollment and improve retention of minority students that were accepted to McCormick. Historically, EXCEL was 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.

EXCEL is also 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 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. 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.

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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 choose 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.

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This year’s summer program is taking place from Saturday, June 29th through Saturday, August 3rd.

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How does it work?

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 be 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.

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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.

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how much does the program Cost?

Thanks to generous corporate sponsors, Alumni, and Northwestern University, all the expenses for the program - including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and transportation* - are covered. 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.

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How Do I apply?

Please click here to begin the application process. There is a limit to the number of students who can be accommodated in our program, with a cap at 25 students. We will be reviewing applications on a first come first serve basis, so it is in your best interest to apply earlier rather than later. Please apply no later than Monday, May 20, 2019. This program is only open to students who have been accepted to the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and will be attending Northwestern in the fall.

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Success Stories

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 Latinas 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 Seattle, WA.

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