Project Ignite is a student run outreach organization at Carnegie Mellon University offering a project-based educational program for high school students in the greater Pittsburgh area. We provide a valuable opportunity for students to work in a team and gain hands-on experience planning and executing a project with funding for materials provided for each group. Our vision is that all students, regardless of socioeconomic standing or prior academic achievement, will have the opportunity to participate in the program. Our ultimate goals are to expose students to subject areas that they would otherwise be unable to explore, and to allow students to pursue a new or existing interest that they lack the knowledge and/or support to engage in on their own. Project Ignite is based on small group projects that are defined and driven by high school students, with guidance provided by our project advisors, who are volunteers from the CMU student body. We aim to have the high school students be in the driver's seat throughout the process. They will be the ones brainstorming possibilities, making plans, and doing the legwork to achieve a shared goal, while the project advisors act as mentors to challenge them and provide guidance when appropriate. For our 2015-2016 pilot program we had 37 high schoolers from the greater Pittsburgh area participate in 7 different projects with 18 Carnegie Mellon student project advisors. Projects included programming an iPhone app, building a hologram projector, constructing a minecraft server, and designing quadcopters. Our project showcase was wildly successful, and all 7 groups were able to present a completed project. Project Ignite was featured on the CMU homepage in May 2016, and garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback from faculty and staff at CMU, local high schools, parents, and participants. This year, we are expanding our program to more high schools, and hope to be able to fund 10 student projects.
Funded by Pittsburgh, PA (September 2016)