Western Aerospace Scholars (WAS) is an online distance learning course and summer experience specifically designed for high school sophomores and juniors interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The online curriculum is a University of Washington college course focused on NASA’s space exploration program as well as topics in earth and space science.

If they successfully complete the online curriculum, students are invited to participate in multi-day summer experiences that provide them to the opportunity to work with STEM professionals, NASA scientists, university students and STEM educators.


Why should a student participate in WAS?

  • Participating in the online distance learning course helps students understand the components and expectations for college level coursework while they are still in high school, particularly the importance of good time management and the ability to prioritize.
  • Being able to state on a resume or college admission application that they completed a five-credit University of Washington course, while in high school, will help to set them apart from other applicants.
  • Regardless of where they live, participating in WAS enables students to interact with like-minded peers and participate in virtual chats with STEM professionals currently working in a field of interest to them.
  • The summer experiences provide students the opportunity to have fun while learning about the universe in which we live, meeting other students with similar interests, and challenging themselves to plan realistic future space missions.
  • Being a graduate of the WAS program puts scholars in an alumni network of over 1400 students who are at top colleges and military academies across the country and who work at STEM companies, including Boeing, SpaceX, Facebook and Aerojet Rocketdyne.
  • WAS alumni frequently report that their experience in WAS built their confidence, interpersonal skills, and prepared them for success in college.


Junior Program

The junior level program runs from mid-November to early April and has students participating in an online course consisting of ten bi-weekly lessons and a final project. If they successfully complete the online curriculum, students can apply to receive five University of Washington natural science (ESS 102) credits and are invited to participate in a six-day summer residency experience. The Summer Residency provides students to the opportunity to work with STEM professionals, NASA scientists, university students and STEM educators to plan a human mission to Mars. There is no cost to participate in either phase of the program, but students can pay to receive UW credit for their online work during Phase One.

Student Requirements

  • You must currently be a junior in high school.
  • You must have Internet access and be an Oregon State resident to participate in Phase One.
  • You must be a US citizen to participate in Phase Two.

Timeframe

The 2017-18 junior program application is available now and will be due Friday, November 3, 2017. Phase One begins Thursday November 16th with assignments due every two weeks until April 5th, 2018.

Click here for the online application for the 2017-18 junior program

The junior program Summer Residency is a six-day experience (Sunday to Friday) held in July 2018. Specific details about location and exact dates will be shared to scholars at the start of the online program in November.

Click here for a WAS program overview!

STEM Teachers

WAS is seeking STEM teachers to both evaluate online coursework and participate as an academic facilitator during the summer experiences for both the sophomore and junior programs. In addition to being exposed to university level curriculum and content, teachers will also have opportunities to interact with professionals working in STEM fields, tour engineering and research facilities that are not open to the general public, work with highly engaged and motivated students, and learn new techniques for demonstrating STEM concepts in their classrooms.

$1600 in stipends and clock hours are available.

To find out more about the teacher role in the 2017-18 junior program and the application Click Here. The deadline for teacher applications is Friday, October 27 2017.

Note that teacher applications for the sophomore program will be available in December 2018.

Sophomore program

The sophomore level program serves as an introduction to the junior course. It is an online course that takes place in the spring of sophomore year and contains the first two lessons of the junior program. Students who successfully complete the online coursework are invited to participate in a three-day summer experience and are granted automatic admission into the junior program. There is no cost to participate in either phase of the sophomore program.

Student Requirements

  • You must currently be a sophomore in high school and a resident of Oregon State.
  • You must have internet accessibility to participate in Phase One.

Time Frame

The 2018 sophomore program application will available in December 2017 and will be due Friday, February 1st 2018. Phase One begins Thursday, March 8th with assignments due every two weeks until April 12th, 2018.

The sophomore three-day summer experiences will be held in July and August of 2018 at a variety of locations across Oregon and students are invited to participate in the location closest to them. Sophomore summer experiences are not residential, rather daily workshops held from 8am until 5:30pm. Specific dates and locations for the summer experiences will be shared with scholars at the start of their online experience in March 2018.

For more information please email was@museumofflight.org or call 206-764-5866.

The Western Aerospace Scholars program is sponsored by NASA and The Museum of Flight.

Supplemental Materials:

Check out the article about Sophomore WAS in the Keizer Times: Click Here

WAS Postcard

WAS Postcard (Somali)

WAS Postcard (Spanish)