When Zi Peng “Hunter” Zhao was five years old, he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: an aerospace engineer. “You see a rocket launch, and that to me was the coolest thing ever. You’re sending people to space, and it’s… discovery – exploration – it’s just really awesome to me,” he says. While the precise details of his dream have evolved over the years, his connection to MIT – beginning as a middle school student and extending through today as a first-year Ph.D. candidate in aerospace engineering – has remained constant.
Zhao nurtured this dream by enrolling in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program in its inaugural year, when he was in the seventh grade. In the program – provided by the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs (OEOP) to students who attend public middle school in Boston, Cambridge, and Lawrence, Massachusetts – Hunter and his peers spent five weeks during the summer learning math and science from MIT students and select Saturdays during the school year working one-on-one with student mentors. He also participated in the Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery (SEED) Academy. Read about Hunter on the Office of Engineering Outreach Program’s News website.