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Westinghouse Science Honors Institute

The Westinghouse Science Honors Institute is a free program for high school juniors from Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities who demonstrate a strong interest in science and engineering and who are of high scholastic standing.

Westinghouse Science Honors Institute (WSHI) consists of 12 Saturday-morning lectures, from October through March, on selected topics in science and engineering. Students attend WSHI to gain insight into careers in engineering and science. They network with professionals in the "real world," and interact with students from different schools who also have the same abilities and interests.

Application forms are not available online and are distributed through the U.S. mail to schools in late August.

A limited number of accepted students will also have the opportunity to take an optional trip to tour Penn State University's Breazeale nuclear reactor, located at University Park, PA. The trips are filled as the completed application forms are returned by the schools to WSHI. Approximately 650 juniors are accepted into WSHI each year. Held annually, nearly 16,300 students have attended WSHI, and many have gone on to successful careers in science and engineering.

The 2015-2016 Westinghouse Science Honors Institute is sponsored solely by Westinghouse Electric Company.  For more information, call 412.256.2568 or email to pipersh@westinghouse.com.

About the Program

On select Saturdays from October through March, qualified high school juniors from Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities participate in lectures while attending the Westinghouse Science Honors Institute. Lectures will be held at the Gateway Middle School in Monroeville, PA. A wide variety of topics are presented in the lecture portion of each session, with subjects such as:

  • nuclear power production
  • FBI's forensic investigations
  • potential of adipose tissue and adipose-derived stem cells
  • lasers and mechatronics
  • future human exploration of the solar system
  • anatomic ACL reconstruction
  • exercise for the brain
  • design science
  • bioengineering
  • searching for the missing 96 percent of the universe 
  • robot development from research to commercialization
  • discovery of Anzu wyliei, the bird-like dinosaur

Students are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the lecturers during or after the presentation. The lecturers are at the top of their fields, and most have demonstrations to heighten subject interest.

A limited number of accepted students will also have the opportunity to take an optional trip to tour Penn State University's Breazeale nuclear reactor located at University Park, PA.

Each Saturday begins with a light breakfast starting at 9:00 a.m. Lectures start at 10:00 a.m. and finish at approximately 11:30 a.m. Students who attend at least seven lectures OR six lectures and one trip to Penn State will receive a WSHI Certificate of Completion. Students must be picked up by noon.

Students may also opt to take a voluntary exam to compete for awards. The exam is held immediately following the final session, and consists of twelve modules - one for each of the lecture topics. Students may use their lecture notes during the exam but no electronic devices (laptops, cell phones, etc.) will be permitted. Students are allowed 105 minutes to complete all the modules.

Typically, approximately 200 students accept the challenge and sign up for the exam. For 2015-2016, following is the list of awards which will be given to the top exam finishers who are eligible for Certificates of Completion:

First place $1000
Second and Third $750/each
Fourth - Sixth $500/each
Seventh - Tenth $250/each
Eleventh - Fifteenth $150/each
Sixteenth - Twentieth $50 gift card/each

Requirements

To be accepted into the WSHI program, students must be nominated by science coordinators or guidance counselors at high schools in Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities. These coordinators/ counselors receive WSHI information (including application forms) in late August and nominate high school juniors with a high scholastic standing in both science and the humanities (minimum B average). Most importantly, students must have a sincere interest in science.

Home-schooled students who are at the junior level are also encouraged to apply and should contact WSHI directly at pipersh@westinghouse.com.

Approximately 200 area schools receive WSHI information and about 110 respond with nominations. The school administration provides information about each nominated student, including overall grade average to date. Nominated students must submit an application form on which they write a brief essay about their interest in science and why they want to participate in WSHI. The application form must also contain a recommendation from each student's science teacher or guidance counselor.

On the reverse side of the application form is a release of liability and assumption of all risks which must be signed by both the student and their parent or guardian. Application forms are available from the school science coordinator or guidance counselor. They are not available online.

Every year, the Westinghouse Science Honors Institute receives more applications than it can accept, and interested students must be turned away. For that reason, students accepted into the Institute are expected to attend at least seven lectures OR six lectures and one trip to Penn State. Only students who fulfill this requirement will receive a WSHI Certificate of Completion.