Accelerate is a virtual engineering program that offers academically advanced courses to gifted sophomores, juniors, and seniors across the state of South Carolina. The program's curriculum consists of both real-time online classes, in-person labs, sponsored Saturday trips, and week-long summer camps. Each of these components is intended to provide South Carolina's future engineers with top-notch educational opportunities and exposure to new areas of study within various engineering fields. Through rigorous coursework, innovative learning experiences, and team-building activities, Accelerate aims to encourage the creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking of all its students.
Accelerate courses are delivered via state-of-the-art video conferencing technology that strives to recreate traditional classroom dynamics over long distances. During a normal week of school, students daily participate in between two and four Accelerate courses from their home high schools. When not in the virtual classroom, students continue to take courses offered by their local schools. For their Accelerate coursework, which concentrates on mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, and English, students earn either Honors credit or dual high-school and college credit. If they successfully complete the program, students can receive as many as 49 college credit hours prior to graduating high school. For a complete list of Accelerate courses and a schedule of classes by grade level, please visit here.
During each academic year, Accelerate students are required to participate in one Saturday Experience. These experiences generally take the form of day-trips to public and private institutions across the state and are designed to expose students to various kinds of engineering challenges and career possibilities. If space allows, students are encourage to take advantage of as many Saturday Experiences as possible during the school year. For more information about Saturday Experiences, including examples of past trips, please see here.
In addition to receiving online instruction in pre-engineering (10th grade), chemistry (11th grade), and physics (12th grade), students also attend one or two mandatory Saturday labs per semester. During these labs, which are held on GSSM's Hartsville campus, students learn how to use the latest in equipment and technology and begin to understand how knowledge gained in the classroom can be translated into experimentation, testing, and analysis. For more detailed information about Saturday labs, please see here.
In the summer before each year of the program, Accelerate students are required to attend week-long camps known as Summer Experiences. On the one hand, these Experiences are designed to build a sense of camaraderie among students who attend different schools across the state. On the other hand, the Summer Experiences offer Accelerate students the opportunity to participate in challenging longer-term projects, to gain exposure to a variety of novel engineering practices and techniques, and to develop the communication skills and spirit of cooperation critical to engineering success. Summer Experiences also allow students to make connections with professors and graduate students at major research institutions within South Carolina. More detailed information about Summer Experiences, including descriptions of previous camp activities and projects, can be found here.
In the fall of their senior year, Accelerate students begin to think about their senior projects. These projects, which can be completed individually or in groups, encourage students to identify engineering challenges or gaps in the market and to design solutions to complex problems. Senior projects can cover any aspect of engineering, from computer programming and transportation modeling to product design and improved fabrication. During the ensuing spring semester, students enroll in an Honors course specifically intended to assist them in developing their ideas, creating prototypes, refining models, and communicating results. As part of the course, students prepare written documentation about their projects, design posters similar to those found at academic and industry conferences, and prepare oral presentations regarding their work. At the end of the semester, all students display their posters and prototypes and deliver their presentations on GSSM's Hartsville campus.
Accelerate's collaboration with industry partners provides a unique opportunity for students to cultivate long-lasting relationships. Although no student is guaranteed an industry internship during or after his or her time in Accelerate, participation in the program does offer students immeasurable advantages in identifying possible collaborations, strengthening social and professional connections, and demonstrating thorough dedication to engineering as both a field of study and a vocation. For more information about our industry partners, please visit here.