While some of their peers were hitting the beach or backpacking across Europe, 38 incoming Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) students took a meeting yesterday in the boardroom of Exelon Corporation’s Loop headquarters. Exelon employees gave the students a unique, firsthand look at the bright careers that may await them in the energy industry.
The meeting launched the third year of a summer program known as the Exelon Summer Institute at IIT. The endowed program, funded by a generous grant from Exelon, helps new students prepare for their college experience and the university’s rigorous curriculum.
“Exelon supports programs that help prepare tomorrow’s science and technology leaders as they take their first steps in higher education, as well as programs that encourage diversity in the fields of engineering, math and science,” said Steven Solomon, Exelon’s director of corporate relations, “With more than 300 Exelon employees and retirees being IIT alumni, we value our partnership with IIT and our shared focus on math and science education.”
The intensive, month-long Institute focuses on achieving college readiness in math, chemistry and physics, while helping participants hone their study strategies and time-management and communication skills. This year, much of the Exelon Summer Institute will take place at IIT’s new Idea Shop, a state-of the-art facility designed to foster collaboration and innovation. Students will participate in workshops and group learning activities, gaining aptitude in a variety of subjects and exploring their intended academic majors.
IIT Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Mike Gosz says, “Exelon’s generous gift ensures the Summer Institute will provide incoming students with increased support and preparation for years to come. The program improves the students’ college experience, smoothes the transition from high school to college, and provides students with the ability and motivation to be independent, lifelong learners."
Participating students have the opportunity to live on-campus and participate in extracurricular activities, including science-focused field trips and recreational activities that foster the support system of friends and faculty crucial to their continued academic success.
“I didn't have to worry about feeling lost,” said Trevor A. Townsend, an IIT student and Exelon Summer Institute alumnus majoring in aerospace engineering. “The hardest thing for some is finding help when they're too shy. I learned how to communicate with professors and with members of my study groups.”
Trevor and other past Exelon Summer Institute participants will serve as ambassadors and mentors for this year’s class. The Institute will continue to work with participating students throughout the academic year, providing additional academic and emotional support and offering events designed to maintain the relationships and learning circles formed over the summer.
Exelon employees, recognized for their efforts in community outreach and volunteerism, will donate their time to the Summer Institute, interacting with students throughout the summer and during the following school year. These interactions will include mentorship, career discussions, and opportunities for job-shadowing, helping students to build their social and professional networks.