Mechanical Engineering Summer Launch

2021: July 6 to 16 (online at home) then July 19 to 31 (on campus)

For incoming freshmen

The optional Mechanical Engineering Summer Launch gives students a head start by taking ME 201: “Introduction to Mechanical Engineering” in the summer before starting at UW–Madison.

All mechanical engineering majors take ME 201 in either the fall or spring semester of the first year.

Completing this class in the summer can help you:

  • confirm that mechanical engineering is right for you;
  • move forward with other mechanical engineering classes sooner;
  • get familiar with our spaces and places and people, so you’re settled into campus life when the semester starts.

Summer Launch includes lots of social activities where you’ll meet other engineering students, start building your networks, and explore campus.

Ask your questions: Tracy Spraetz,

Apply for Summer Launch

Open to undergraduate students who have accepted an admission offer the UW–Madison College of Engineering for Fall 2021, and who are interested in mechanical engineering.

Students admitted into other engineering majors can participate, too! Take a look at the Electrical & Computer Engineering Summer Launch.

APPLY WITH THIS FORM   due May 1, 2021

Within a few days of submitting the form, you will be contacted by a Summer Launch coordinator.

Scholarship award decisions will be made by Friday, May 7, and students will be notified by email that day.

You will confirm your participation in Summer Launch by Tuesday, May 11.

Feel free to ask Tracy Spraetz your questions any time:

The class

ME 201: “Introduction to Mechanical Engineering” gets you started in the fascinating exploration of stresses and motion through hands-on projects. There are no prerequisites like math placement scores.

The summer version of ME 201 gives you the same rigorous coursework and learning, but in a small class size and on a compact schedule. Completing this degree requirement early gives you some flexibility in the mechanical engineering path through the major. (Good for both students who want a little breathing room in their first year, or who will be ready to take specific engineering subjects sooner.)

You will begin with online classes that you can take at home (Tuesday, July 6 to Friday, July 16). On Sunday, July 18 you’ll move to campus. The class will resume with in-person meetings from Monday, July 19 to Friday, July 30.

Official class description from the UW–Madison Guide:

Provides an introduction to the field of Mechanical Engineering in the context of a major, semester-long project that is carried out in small groups as well as several, smaller hands-on projects. Obtain a shop pass, design build and test small prototypes using the shop as well as 3-D printing, take measurements using various instruments, and use a microcontroller to control a system. Introduction to software that is particularly useful to Mechanical Engineers including SolidWorks and EES. Learn how to design experiments, obtain data, use data to develop simple models of systems, exercise models for the purposes of design, and present their results professionally. It will provide a context for the math, physics and chemistry classes that are taken during the first year of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum and also provide a preview of future ME courses and should also give you a glimpse into the breadth of opportunities afforded by a mechanical engineering degree.

Taking other summer classes. — Summer classes pack a lot into a short schedule. It is not recommended to take both ME 201 and another UW–Madison class. Students would need to be admitted for Summer 2021 enrollment to be eligible for summer classes during other weeks.

Orientation (SOAR) + placement testing + transcripts

Neither UW–Madison’s summer orientation program (SOAR) nor placement testing are part of Summer Launch. Students register for SOAR and placement testing on their own.

No placement tests are required for ME 201.

The Office of Admissions and Recruitment’s Admitted Freshman Checklist requires all incoming first-year students submit their final high-school transcripts. We are awaiting confirmation from Admissions on the deadline for this particular summer class (no earlier than June 8); we will contact applications when this is known. Completing this step is required by campus to keep enrollment in your summer class.

Housing + dining

You stay in a campus residence hall near the Engineering buildings, with other Summer Launch students. The Summer Launch program coordinates this for students who opt-in to campus housing. Staying in Madison off-campus is also acceptable for students who arrange this themselves.

Each student gets a private room, moving in on Sunday, July 18 and moving out on Saturday, July 31. The cost is $364.

Meal expenses are not included in the program cost. If you stay in campus housing, a very convenient option is using your new campus ID (WisCard), which can be loaded with funds to buy food in the many campus dining halls.

Cost + financial aid

Scholarships. — The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a limited number of scholarships to help cover the costs of ME 201 tuition.

Some students may also be eligible for financial aid during the program. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for information.

UW–Madison has published the tuition and fee rates for Summer 2021.

The estimates below are provided to give you a general sense of the cost.

Wisconsin resident* Nonresident Minnesota
Tuition & fees
$1,727 $5,213 $2,308
Course materials $75 $75 $75
Housing $364 $364 $364
Direct program costs (total of above) $2,166 $5,652 $2,747
Estimated dining costs
$250 $250 $250

*The Office of the Registrar determines Wisconsin residence for tuition purposes. Learn more at


Ask your questions: Tracy Spraetz,