Summer STEM Institute (SSI) reviews 2020

Hi everyone! I couldn’t find a thread on SSI reviews, so I thought it would be nice to make one. I personally attended SSI this summer and let me just say that it was beyond my expectations. Hopefully others had the same experience too. :slight_smile:
Feel free to leave any of your thoughts or experiences that you had this summer!

I’m going to share my experiences lol. I really think that the SSI team did an amazing job organizing their first summer program!! I think a lot of the other students that participated agree with me in the fact that everything was so organized and planned out, and the staff answered sooo many of our questions literally 24/7. In addition to being more than qualified to teach the courses, the instructors were so hard working and nice! I was really inspired this summer, and I encourage anyone thinking about going to SSI in the future to go for it! I think the experience is really impactful, and if it is too much for you, they also offer financial aid (I think some ppl even got full rides!).
Also, like the instructors and staff are more than willing to help students – we even have this post-SSI program where there will be events going on in the school year too! Feel free to ask any questions on here if you’re thinking about SSI next year :smile:

I agree with @watermelonkoala , SSI is very organized and did amazing job. Here is the review for their most selective Research Program (4.2% acceptance rate).
There were totally 6 weeks, copied from their website:
· Week 1: Preliminary Project
· Week 2: Completed Project and Research Proposal Due
· Week 3: Critical Questions Report
· Week 4: Milestone Report
· Week 5: Paper Rough Draft
· Week 6: Final Paper and Presentation

I saw, almost every day, students met with their mentor for their project. My child’s mentor sent her a lot of papers for to read, and gave her many valuable advices on her research topic. At the end of each week, there’s a whole program meeting, kind of status-report presentation. The last week’s writing paper may sound intimidating but you actually already had everything ready from previous weeks’ report or presentation. So basically if you stick with their schedule, you can have a paper done and may be publishable for a conference proceeding.

For the future, I do think remote research program will become more popular. Because some kids have major sport events in summer, some kids have to do summer jobs, etc. They will miss the opportunities for doing research without a flexible remote choice.

SSI was the highlight of our son’s summer and has been a game-changer for him:

  • He has continued the research project he did for the program - he loved what he learned to that extent.
    • His relationship with his mentor was awesome and they have stayed in touch, continuing to inspire new levels of excitement and learning (SSI matched them ridiculously perfectly)
    • SSI really does a nice job with multiple disciplines and it was super to watch our son push further into mechanical engineering, computer vision, data science, and chemistry
    • SSI is really dialed into remote learning - gets how. to use available tech very well
    • Availability of experts in so many fields
    • SSI's communication, from expectation setting to strategy and as a team, was consistent and thorough
  • This is a brilliant program and is sure to get even better year 2 and thereafter

Hey Everyone,

I wanted to contribute to this wonderful discussion about what SSI was like this past summer and my experience leading up to becoming one of the top 10 research papers that were published in the Summer STEM Institute Journal.

I believe that with every opportunity, what you put in is what you get out. This was clarified at the very beginning of the program. With that being said, SSI gives you all the resources you need to succeed - from inspirational and knowledgeable mentors to weekly programming problem sets - in completing a research project from scratch in a short time of 6 weeks.

One of the most challenging parts of SSI I experienced starting in the first week was the massive amount of previous material I needed to learn before conducting research. I barely held onto a steep learning curve of linear algebra, machine learning algorithms, and Python libraries. Luckily, I had an experienced mentor who was a machine learning engineer with a Masters from MIT to guide me every step of the way. We would call almost every night to clarify any questions I had so that I could have a solid conceptual understanding of fundamental material before going into my specific research project.

Personally, I had never done research before, so this was a great first experience. From doing literature reviews to staying up at night to program and debug to stay on track with my project, I put my all into these 6 weeks. In the end, I was able to finish my experimentation and research paper well before the end of the program.

Not only does SSI improve your academic abilities, but it also allowed me to meet amazing people from all over the nation through my lab group and weekend peer reviews. I still often talk to my friends from SSI, and I believe that my experiences there were well worth what I was able to gain.

Thanks again SSI staff for all your hard work and dedication in putting together this amazing summer program.

Salut everyone! I hope you are doing very well… Expressing my own honest opinion about SSI, In a nutshell, I am sure this Bootcamp can be a life-long school for everybody aiming to research with data science. The benefits: they had a feedback forum, where almost every day they worked on drawbacks given by students and improved the system, wide range of resources from books, links to olympiads, working broadly not only in ed but also slack and zoom, discussion sections where you had a problem about assignments, hints were given, great life-recommendations given by masterclass speakers. Most importantly, more practice was focused which is great in the industry than theory. Real-life datasets were observed. Sufficient amount of instructors and tutors for each student who can answer your question as soon as possible. Everybody knows what is research but it is not for everyone how to properly structure and write it esp. on LaTex which was detailedly shown by the SSI which was the most valuable skill for me!!! Python lessons were awesome on account of not only 1 person was teaching you but there were two highly qualified both researchers and programmers in each lesson to guide you. Another prime importance of programming course was in only almost 2 months we almost covered most of a python plus more than 4 packages. To continue unbelievable advantages, every instructor or masterclass speaker has given their email addresses without hesitation for in-person questions. I can assure you that I was not only shown how to do data science programming and writing research but academically perform outstandingly: how to politely and properly address to a person through an email (great real templates were shown), how to perform on olympiads and many other contests (given by masterclass speakers). We should also not forget about discipline I mean deadlines they give and regular control over every student which was crucial on online Bootcamp. One thing is certain since for the first debut opening of this institute there were more than 2400 applicants accepted, from now on every year the competence will grow in terms of geometrical progression!!! In the end, I wanna end my review by saying that for kinda souvenirs or memory beautifully designed T-shirts and backpacks were sent us as soon as the program ended. While most importantly we were also added to the SSI alumni community whereby you will continue your discussions with your pals from the Bootcamp and still have access to great resources + social networking would be promoted!!! Of course, you will earn a certificate in case you successfully pass assignments on time! I acknowledge that since nothing is perfect SSI had some time management problems in the first days after launching it which was solved in an hour after feedbacks were given by us. What I wanna say is at the first they had only this issue managing time properly which was, of course, solved immediately. The rest went smoothly excellent so I have no feedback towards the SSI overall!!! In SSI you never regret but GROW, I am grateful for being a part of this life-long school!

I had a great experience at SSI this past summer! Everything was well organized and all the details were thoroughly accounted for to make this program succeed.

Before SSI, I had taken many STEM courses, and I had always found research to be interesting. However, I had never had any research experience to back up this interest. That’s where SSI, which is comprised of a coding boot camp and research boot camp, really benefitted me.

Prior to the program, I had very minimal coding experience, having fumbled my way through Computer Science Principles AP and stopping there. SSI requires no prior knowledge; it teaches Python extensively from the beginning. It is worth noting that though the programming boot camp does begin with the basics, the instructors do get through the first weeks’ material relatively quickly. This means that students are expected to put in a good amount of effort to understand the material taught in class outside of class, if necessary. There are plenty of weekly coding assignments to help. I learned a lot about Python, from simple strings to libraries to machine learning algorithms. The instructor was highly qualified and taught in a very organized and entertaining manner. I thoroughly enjoyed this class.

The research boot camp was also very useful. A lot of the concepts from AP Statistics were taught in this class, but they were explored with more depth and more application to the research we were doing. The first four weeks consisted of statistical analysis, while the final two were discussions of how to write a paper and make a presentation. Both were incredibly helpful during the course of my research. Additionally, I was lucky enough to work on a research project with a mentor from SSI, as well. I met with my mentor almost every night. From helping with literature review to helping me find data to working with me through coding roadblocks to supporting the finalization of my project, he was very helpful and made my experience rewarding. Every night, we met with our mini lab groups consisting of 2 or 3 other students. Every week, we met with our bigger lab groups consisting of about 3 mini groups. These meetings were very valuable as it gave me the chance to see what others were doing and give them feedback while also getting feedback on my own project. I also made a few friends from SSI with a similar passion for research.

With all that being said, the program doesn’t hand you your project on a silver platter. As others have mentioned before, this program is definitely very intensive. If you want to succeed, you’re going to have to work hard for it. This program gives you everything you need: it’s up to you to do something with it. If you find yourself too busy or unable to put in the requisite effort, this program may not be for you. However, if you believe that research is something you’re passionate about and you’re looking for an exhaustive research experience, I definitely think you should go for SSI!