SYP Overview and History

A man holds up a metal casting that reads "Michigan Tech."


Summer Youth Programs (SYP) at Michigan Tech provides students with a chance to experience college life in a fun, engaging, and safe setting. It's a way to lean into curiosity and explore a subject that interests you, but it's also a chance to branch out by meeting other exceptional young people from around the country and around the world.

Students choose one or more explorations to participate in during the summer: subjects range from electrical engineering to forensic science, digital photography to computer science, and so much more. SYP explorations are driven by hands-on activities and introductions to many different fields. 

During their time on campus, students live in our full-service residence hall, eat in the dining hall, and participate in their chosen exploration. In the evening, students have time to relax and participate in many different supervised recreational activities, taking advantage of Lake Superior, waterfalls, hiking trails and exploring nature in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 


Dr. Calvin W. Gale had an experience with his son many years ago that led him to design what would one day become the Summer Youth Programs at Michigan Technological University. His son was interested in a specific career, and Dr. Gale watched him spend time finding information and bring books home to research. He thought, wouldn’t it be nice for other students to have an opportunity to research careers but also be introduced to concepts, functions and challenges of various fields during the summer? Dr. Gale then approached Ray W. Smith, President of Michigan Tech, regarding all the resources on campus not being used during the summer and his idea for engagement.

So, in the fall of 1972, Youth Programs was born, with the first summer of programming launching in June 1973. Some of the first explorations offered that summer included Isle Royale Ecology, Orienteering and Mountaineering, Bicycling Biology and Geology, Computer Science, Bridge Design, and Metallurgy. 10 years later, Christine S. Anderson, a biology teacher with a vibrant smile, took over coordinating the Summer Youth Programs. Mrs. Anderson had a passion for providing access to underrepresented students and began adding programs such as Explorations in Engineering and the Minority College Access Program. She used her skills as a writer to approach corporations and state and federal funding organizations, eventually building the Educational Opportunity department around Youth Programs.

From our first summer with 517 participants and 24 explorations, we now reach over 1,100 participants a summer and offer 50+ explorations for students completing grades 6-11. Today, students travel from over 30 US states and 10+ countries to participate in our explorations each summer. Although our program has grown, our mission has never changed: we still strive to help students learn new skills and explore potential careers in a relaxed and hands-on way.