An International Experience

An International Experience
An International Experience
Sarp Tatlici, left, of Turkey, poses with Husain Hasan of Bahrain while working on a project during the Engineering Scholars Program at Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Program in June.

Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Program has an excellent reputation, drawing young scholars not only from around the country, but from around the world. 

Last winter, Sarp Tatlici decided he wanted to attend some sort of science or engineering summer program. The 17-year-old sat down with his mother and surfed the Internet looking for programs that might interest him.

“We were looking for engineering and stuff, and this popped up. We looked at each other and said ‘Why not?’” The “this” Tatlici saw was the website for the Summer Youth Program at Michigan Technological University. In particular, the teen was interested in the Engineering Scholars Program. What makes his story a bit unusual is that Tatlici and his mother discovered SYP at Michigan Tech while surfing the web from their home in Istanbul, Turkey, about 5,250 miles from the Houghton campus.

Sarp Tatlici is one of four international students attending the Engineering Scholars Program. In addition, three young men from Bahrain spent the week in Houghton as well.

It is not unusual to see students from all over the world on the Tech campus during the summer. Amanda McConnon, assistant director of the Center for Educational Outreach, says this summer nearly 12 percent of the Summer Youth Program participants come from other countries. This is close to Michigan Tech’s 15 percent make-up of international undergraduate and graduate students.

"It's real nature here. There's lots of green."Sarp Tatlici

The trip to America is Tatlici’s fourth, but his first to a place that doesn’t have palm trees. Previous family trips have taken him to Miami, San Diego and Las Vegas. While the weather has been cooler than he expected, he’s enjoyed the scenery. “It’s real nature here. There’s lots of green.”

His parents traveled with him to Houghton, and they’re enjoying the sights of summer in the Keweenaw while their son is getting an overview of engineering.

“My father’s friend said, ‘We need engineers.’ That’s what got me interested in engineering,” Tatlici says. While he has yet to select which engineering field he will pursue after high school, engineering will be his chosen profession. The week at Tech may help steer him toward a particular discipline.

The Engineering Scholars Program is a week-long look at engineering careers, covering mechanical, computer, environmental, electrical, chemical, biomedical, civil, geological and materials engineering.

Tatlici says all of the engineering projects have been interesting, but it was geological engineering that really sparked his interest. “I chose a group project involving volcanoes. Even though we don’t have volcanoes in Turkey, I really liked it, and who knows--I may travel to a place with volcanoes some day.”

It was more than engineering that impressed the teen from Turkey about SYP and Michigan Tech. “This is a pretty cool place; the people have been really great. They all know I’m from Turkey, but they treat me like everybody else.”

McConnon says it’s the overall experience, both in and out of classrooms and labs, that makes SYP so special. “Our programs offer all students a sneak peek at what college life could be like. They stay in residence halls, eat in a dining hall and walk themselves to classes on campus.”

She says going through this experience while still in middle or high school gives students the confidence that they will be successful at a university. It makes the idea of attending college less scary. “Having both international and domestic students attend out program adds to this college-like experience. It also gives international participants, many visiting the US for the first time, a chance to see if attending a university abroad is right for them.

Tatlici says studying abroad is certainly a possibility. “I have to take another year of exams before I can decide where I want to go. I wouldn’t mind coming here.”

ESP is one of eight competitive scholarship programs offered by SYP during the course of the summer. The other programs include; Women in Engineering, National Summer Transportation Institute, Rail and Intermodal Transportation, Women in Computer Science, Junior Women in Engineering, Women in Automotive Engineering and Women in Robotics.

McConnon says students from different countries find out about Michigan Tech and SYP in a variety of ways. “They learn about our Summer Youth Programs several ways, including from their school counselors and teachers, US Embassy contacts and Michigan Tech alumni.”

And some find out by surfing the web with their mother.


Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.