How does one show "passion" for computer engineering/science?

<p>I was at an engineering fair a month ago, and in attendance was a professor from Dartmouth. Although I will likely not even apply to Dartmouth, I do want to go into either computer engineering or computer science, I was lucky enough to speak to him a few minutes about engineering schools. The biggest piece of advice that he gave me was to "show your passion for engineering".</p>

<p>I know that at least one of you is about to say that if I indeed have a passion for computers, I would naturally pursue and enjoy activities that would demonstrate it. Nevertheless, my high school has quite paucity of engineering-related organizations or activities. I participated in a science league for the two years it existed before the advisor got pregnant and left along with the club. I've participated in math league and I am actually the president of Mu Alpha Theta (that's the high school math honors society, for those of you who aren't familiar with it). And I've taken a rigorous courseload, including AP Physics B (and next year Physics C), AP Computer Science, and AP Calculus BC (on top of some humanities APs...but I'll omit those here). I run cross country, and I'm also a member of my local volunteer ambulance corps, which is probably my biggest comittment and the extracurricular that I love the most.</p>

<p>And that's really it, among other things. As you can see, many of my activities do relate to math and science, but nothing explicitly is an engineering or computer science club. Whether it's a lack of interest or funding (the latter I would find unsurprising because my high school is notoriously stingy with educational extracurriculars at the face of sports), it's simply not present at my school. Don't get my wrong - I'd kill to build an awesome robot, program its AI, and compete in some robot death-match. I mean, who wouldn't? I love computers, I know a variety of programming languages, but what do I do to show this?</p>

<p>Honestly, this is the thing that is frustrating me most about college. My grades and scores are great, my personality and worth ethic are strong, but my extracurriculars are not completely expressive of my intended college major.</p>

<p>Does anyone have any suggestions or experience?</p>

<p>Do an engineering mentorship program over the summer.</p>

<p>@BuddyMcAwesome,</p>

<p>Honestly, I have no idea of how I would go about that.</p>

<p>I also failed to mention I'm a junior, if that causes for any confusion.</p>

<p>I would not worry about it TOO much - some schools [claim that they] don't admit you into a specific major. I would still try and get involved in some program or something, and maybe mention it in your essay.</p>

<p>this year you are a junior, or you will be next year?</p>

<p>@BuddyMcAwesome,</p>

<p>Currently a junior. I'll be a rising senior when summer comes around in all but two weeks. :)</p>

<p>well then ignore what I said, all of those programs' applications have already long passed</p>

<p>@BuddyMcAwesome,</p>

<p>Either way, I'm not sure if my parents could afford that type of summer program. And I have a job lined up this summer.</p>

<p>brian, they aren't expensive. I did one last summer that for a whole month cost only $300 and included room, board, food, and fun excursions.</p>

<p>Find some kind of school activity that you wouldn't think of, such as helping to run the school website or update or something. Learn a programming language and make some sort of robot that crawls around or something. Doesn't your school have a robotics club? You could at the very least write about any fiddlings you've done in your essays, and if you're a good writer and you can convey that passion you have then that would be a worthwhile investment.</p>

<p>It's hard to show 'computer skills' and other sorts of things like that so you have to be creative.</p>

<p>And to be honest, unless you are trying to get into MIT, most schools are going to understand that you have a relative dearth of experience in the field you are applying to. If you had all the experience, you likely wouldn't be applying. For example, I went to UIUC for my undergrad, and I got in just fine to the Mechanical Engineering department without having ever built a hot rod from the ground up or anything like that. I think I talked about how much I liked planes and Legos and stuff. The overwhelming majority of incoming engineering students aren't going to have any kind of real world experience in engineering before college.</p>

<p>To the previous posters:</p>

<p>No, my school doesn't have a robotics club. But I might think about starting a computer science club; thanks for the suggestion!</p>

<p>And boneh3ad, I agree. I mean, I will apply to MIT. But by no means am I betting all of my money on getting in there. I think no one but a teenaged Nobel laureate could actually be guaranteed admission to MIT.</p>

<p>But I am looking at schools like Carnegie Mellon, Penn, and Columbia - clearly not at an MIT level (for engineering, at least), but difficult nonetheless.</p>

<p>I don't know what your stats are, but you are applying to a bunch of schools that are ridiculously selective. Additionally, there are schools that are better than Penn and Colombia that are less selective (though better is of course a subjective term and is certainly arguable). I am assuming that you know where you have a shot and so you are applying based on that, but I would certainly recommend looking at some of the powerhouse engineering state schools at least as fall backs. Some of them have awesome programs (better than some on your list even) and are easier to get into since they are public.</p>

<p>Then again, it is a preference, so if you are looking for small schools or absolutely have to have private schools, those big state schools wouldn't work, and I don't know enough about you to make that call. All I can advise you is to find some kind of fall back options just in case.</p>

<p>That is a great idea. Start some sort of club, that is probably going to be good for your application not only to show your passion for computer sciences but also your leadership skills and other sorts of things that admissions look for.</p>

<p>@boneh3ad,</p>

<p>Oh, don't worry! I'm not ridiculous. The schools I listed are most definitely reach schools.</p>

<p>I've also got University of Rochester, TCNJ, University of Buffalo, Tufts, and ITT Tech lined up as alternatives.</p>

<p>...maybe without the latter.</p>

<p>I don't know if it has been said already but... yeah there's the whole open-source software movement thing that has been going on for a while. That is something to look into. Just look around for projects and get involved, or make apps for the iPhone. I don't know if Google Summer of Code takes HS kids, but there's an idea. Teach some elementary/middle school kids how to use MS Office or something. idk. Read some books/papers/journals at the library and write some sort of blog of your studies or something. Be creative with it.</p>

<p>Good gravy kid how many places are you applying?</p>

<p>10-12, as everyone at my school will be. :&lt;/p>

<p>Sheesh. 10 char.</p>

<p>Haha, I applied to 4 when I graduated high school, but to be fair, I did apply to 10 grad schools since my GPA was low but everything else was high and I had no idea what to expect.</p>