Bridgeland HS student participates in rigorous MIT summer program
Bridgeland High School junior Sanath Muralidhara participated in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Beaver Works Summer Institute, held online over the summer. The four-week program teaches STEM skills through project-based, workshop-style courses.
By Ashtyn Haggard and Alfred Dozier, Bridgeland HS
Sept. 15, 2021—Bridgeland High School junior Sanath Muralidhara participated in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI), held online over the summer.
The 2021 BWSI was held online due to COVID-19, but the institute hosted its largest class since the program’s inception in 2016. More than 350 students participated, with two in-person programs in Huntsville, Ala. and the Kwajalein Atoll (Marshall Islands).
BWSI is a rigorous, world-class STEM program for students entering their senior year in high school. The four-week program teaches STEM skills through project-based, workshop-style courses. BWSI began with 46 students and a single course, RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steering). Students programmed small robotic cars to autonomously navigate a racetrack.
Though virtual in 2021, BWSI expanded to 13 courses, adding more autonomous systems, cybersecurity, software and engineering courses.
Muralidhara has always wanted to apply to MIT and discovered the summer program through his love of math, science and engineering. BWSI suited his interests.
Before applying, Muralidhara needed a teacher recommendation. He found it from Bridgeland High School Chemistry Teacher Hannah Mancill, who recommended Muralidhara for the program and allowed him to complete prerequisite classes depending on the BWSI courses he wanted to take.
Mancill said she was excited to write the recommendation as MIT has a great reputation for attracting and cultivating brilliant minds. She encourages students to apply for programs, as they are great résumé builders and help students develop skills and relationships. Additionally, these programs assist participants beyond the classroom.
“I was impressed with Sanath’s courage to pursue a program with such a prestigious university and delighted that he chose to engage in an extracurricular STEM program,” Mancill said.
Added Muralidhara: “When I got accepted, it was a mixture of happiness and a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ feeling because I never thought that I would actually get accepted into such an elite program. Only 300-something kids from the entire nation got accepted.”
Muralidhara was able to work with students from across the country in the BWSI. Though conducted primarily via Zoom conference calls, institute participants were able to communicate with each other on and off the camera through Discord, an instant messaging and communication platform.
Students worked through lectures and assignments in teams.
“I actually attended the UAE (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone course in BWSI,” Muralidhara said. “That’s given me a really in-depth college-level perspective on aerodynamics and how a drone works, and how to program a drone autonomously.”