It’s no secret that engineering is a competitive program. This is why engineering students need to stand out by involving themselves in various engineering STEM activities outside of school. After all, colleges want to admit passionate students who excel inside and outside of the classroom.

In this article, we will outline various engineering activities students can partake in outside of the classroom in order to bulk up their college applications. So if you’re looking for activities for engineering students, you’ve come to the right place!

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Why extracurricular activities are important

Prospective engineering students need to demonstrate their ability to excel both inside and outside of the classroom. Oftentimes the best way to accomplish this is through a serious commitment to their extracurricular activities.

Engineering club activities often help students decide what type of engineering they are interested in studying. Since engineering programs are so competitive, it’s best to have a pretty good idea of what type of engineering you’d like to study. Not only could this help you gain admission into a program, but it will also signal to college admissions officers that you are committed to your studies and have a clear path forward.

Engineering extracurricular activities can also help students cultivate valuable soft job skills, such as the ability to work well on a team, multitask, meet deadlines, etc. Extracurricular activities also offer students valuable opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills in high school.

List of engineering extracurriculars

You’re likely wondering: What extracurricular activities should I do for engineering? And how many extracurricular activities should I join? Consider the following list of extracurriculars for engineering to help you get started!

Competitions for stem extracurriculars

Which extracurricular activities do colleges look for in engineering applicants? Partaking in the following competitions are great extracurricular activities for engineering students. Not only do they demonstrate your commitment and skill, but they can also highlight your creativity and ability to collaborate meaningfully with your peers. Below are 6 of these types of competitions:

According to its website, “teams develop solutions to project-based STEAM challenges and then present their solutions live at tournaments.” Typically teams of two to seven members “spend 2-6 months developing their Team Challenge solutions and practicing Instant Challenges.”

According to its website, “teams of high school students are challenged to build industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game in alliance with other teams, while also fundraising to meet their goals, designing a team ‘brand,’ and advancing respect and appreciation for STEM within the local community.”

According to its website, “FPSPI is a dynamic international program involving thousands of students annually from the United States and many other countries around the world. Future Problem Solving (FPS) teaches a unique six-step problem-solving process that can be applied in the real world, in local and global communities, as well as in future societies. This six-step model teaches critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.”

According to its website, “The iGEM Competition is an annual, worldwide synthetic biology event that gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world. Multidisciplinary teams work together to design, build, test, and measure a system of their own design using interchangeable biological parts and standard molecular biology techniques.”

According to its website, “Odyssey of the Mind (OM™) brings the classroom to life as students apply what they learn and combine it with their interests and passions to solve our unique open-ended problems. OM also emphasizes teamwork, budgeting, time management, public speaking, and so much more. This international program is designed to help students at all learning levels grow as individual learners, grow as team members, and to reach their full potential.”

According to its website, “Competitive robotics not only encompasses all four pillars of STEM education, but also encourages important life skills like teamwork, communication, and project-based organization. The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation exists to bring this exciting experience to students all over the globe through our wide range of competitions designed for students from 3rd grade through college.”

Pre-college summer programs

The summer is a great way to devote yourself fully to your extracurricular interests. There are lots of summer opportunities available for students to explore, including pre-college summer programs. The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding how to use your summers in high school is to make sure that you are using your time meaningfully and productively.

Here are some of the pre-college summer programs well-suited for engineering students:


Regardless of whether you are participating in a pre-college summer program, pursuing a high school internship, job shadowing, or spending time with your loved ones, do your best to make the most out of each summer!

The importance of passion projects

Students interested in engineering should consider completing a high school passion project as a part of their college applications. Passion projects are self-designed, self-directed projects that showcase students’ strengths and extracurricular interests during the college admissions process. Depending on your specific interests, you may want to design and build a boat, a tiny house, a robot, a car, or anything else you can imagine! Passion projects can be great activities for mechanical engineering students because they are challenging, self-directed, and help students hone their extracurricular skills.

Key takeaways and moving forward

Engineering is an incredibly competitive field. This is why you should get as much experience as you can as early as you are able to! Look into volunteer, internship, apprenticeship, and job shadowing opportunities. Devote yourself fully to your engineering extracurriculars and challenge yourself to complete a high school passion project. After all, you’ll need more than high test scores and an impressive high school GPA to get into a top engineering program! If you feel like you could benefit from professional guidance during your college preparation, reach out to learn more about our services.