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With support from the Beckman Laser Institute Foundation, the Institute of Engineering in Medicine and the BTC
Updated: Online applications for the 2023 OPALS summer program is closed. Thank you so much for your interest.

(For special cases, please contact if still interested in applying.)


Engineering in Medicine Internships for High School Students


The IEM OPALS high school internship program aims to provide pre-college students with hands-on experience in STEM by spending 20 hours per week for six weeks at UC San Diego in a research laboratory environment. Each intern will have the opportunity to interact with researchers, graduate, and undergraduate students engaged in research at the interfaces of engineering and medical science, such as engineering for cancer diagnosis and therapy, biophotonics research, and cardiovascular imaging. Interns will learn the scientific background to the research, observe or assist UC San Diego researchers and students in performing experiments, learn to analyze experimental data and present a research talk or poster at the end of the internship.


  • Intensive program in STEM fields.
  • Structured research skills training and laboratory exposure
  • Introduces the experimental basis of biological & engineering aspects of STEM fields, focusing on basic concepts of college level projects, experimental design, data collection and analysis
  • Fusing weekly professional sharing, career talks, major selections, hands-on experiments, and small group discussions into ongoing research topics, students gain insight into the core of scientific research
  • Guest Lectures: Invited speakers including professors (in neuroscience, human biology, biochemistry, vascular tissue engineering, biomedical engineering), professionals (with degrees in MD, DO, PT, PA, and JD), as well as graduate students and previous interns.
  • Laboratory visits: in Schools of Biology, Chemistry & Engineering.

Dates and Deadlines



Feb 1st, 2023: Applications open

March 10th, 2023: Applications close

March 11th, 2023: Interviews start

Apr 5th, 2023: Notification of Acceptance

Apr 30th, 2023: Acceptance and Deposit Deadline

Jun 26th, 2023: OPALS Opening Day

Aug 4th, 2023: OPALS Closing Day



  1. (Optional) Scholarship & Financial Aid
  2. If you have any question or concern, contact


Lab Visits

Hands-on Experiments

Outings/ Activities

Weekly Schedule

Video Clips


  • 6 weeks program 
    • 6 weeks in-person
      • Monday - Friday, 10 am to 3 pm
    • Interns will participate in college-level projects, including damage mechanisms of two neurodegenerative diseases: Charcot Marie Tooth Disease Type 2B and Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Early Stage Cancer Detection, and Glaucoma
    • For interns with other commitments, we offer 2 weeks in-person & 4 weeks of remote
  • In-person may be converted to remote subject to school COVID-19 guidelines

Qualified applicants

  • Current 8 - 11th graders with curiosity and enthusiasm for STEM
  • Local residents preferred, no room and board provided for applicants from other county&states
  • Students under 16 years old need to follow the Minors in laboratories from UCSD


  • Participation fee: $1000
  • Application fee: $40 (Non-Refundable, required for ALL applicants)
  • The program is unable to provide housing or transportation
  • Students in financial need may apply for fee waiver and transportation support
  • Students should bring their own lunch or money to purchase lunch on campus. A campus dining card will be available to students from food insecure households
  • Voluntary donations to the IEM OPALS program to defray program costs (of approximately $1000 per intern) are gratefully accepted. However, please note that donations will have no influence on acceptance to the program, and we invite families to wait until the end of the program to make donations.


  • Applications from underrepresented, socio-economically disadvantaged, and disabled students are encouraged
  • A Letter of Recommendation will be requested directly from the provider by OPALS Team once the applicant finishes their application form (Accepting until April 1st)
  • Since slots are limited, we may not be able to accommodate all applicants. Applicants will be notified of acceptance decisions via email starting from April 5th, 2023. No more application accepted after March 10th, 2023.


  • Programing in MATLAB
  • Engineering analysis of biomedical experimental data
  • What you need to know about applying to college
  • Special talks from researchers and students about their journeys in STEM
  • Laboratory safety