RPI STEP (7-12)


RPI STEP [Science Technology Entry Program] is funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Education. Its mission to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students prepared to enter college, and improve their participation rate in mathematics, science, technology, health-related fields, and the licensed professions. The program's initiatives focus on developing problem solving and critical thinking skills through a range of enrichment activities that include student development, leadership opportunities, career exploration, college preparation, internships, and parent workshops. RPI STEP activities occur after school, on Saturdays, and over the winter and spring breaks during the school year, and in the summer. RPI supports students entering grades 7 through 12 attending its partner schools listed below, as well as students who live in neighboring communities as space permits. RPI STEP is currently serving students in over 30 schools in the New York Capital Region.

  • Troy Middle School and Troy High School
  • Knickerbacker Middle School & Lansingburgh High School
  • Tamarac Middle School and Tamarac High School



Student Eligibility, Application and Participation

Interested students must first be enrolled in RPI STEP before they begin to participate in RPI STEP Programs.

The following requirements must be met to participate in RPI STEP:    

  • Students must be residents of the State of New York, enrolled in middle or high school (grades 7-12) at a local secondary school.
  • Students must exhibit potential for college level study if provided academic support services.
  • Students must be either economically disadvantaged OR of an ethnicity historically under-represented in the scientific, technical, and health-related professions (Black/African-American, Latino, or Native American/Alaskan Native). 

Applications are evaluated for eligibility before applicants are accepted into the program. Parents will be asked to prove eligibility based on NYS criteria if the application is based on economic eligibility. Please see the most recent income eligibility guidelines from NYSED.

RPI STEP Application and Process

Students and their parents are required to complete the RPI STEP application. If you have difficulty downloading and printing the application, send an email to e-mail RPI STEP, or call 518-276-3098, and we will send it.

RPI STEP Application Process: 

• The student and their parents/guardian must complete and submit the 2020-2025 RPI STEP application in its entirety to the RPI STEP Director.

• Student must request a copy of their grades or transcript, and recommendations from their guidance counselor AND math/science teacher be sent to the RPI STEP Director. 

• Student must write an essay of 250 words, indicating (1) what excites them about the STEM (science, technology, engineering and/or math) fields, and (2) who or what inspired them to be interested in the STEM fields. These factors are used to evaluate a student’s potential for entry into the program. This essay should be submitted along with the student’s application to the RPI STEP Director. 

As part of the application process, parents are asked to grant RPI permission to access transcripts including grades and test scores from their student's school, as RPI is required to report annually on student participant performance to the NY State Department of Education to justify program funding.

Applications are reviewed as soon as they are received in their entirety.  Students who complete the application process and are accepted into RPI STEP will be eligible to participate in all programs offered in the summer, fall and spring semesters thereafter, from the summer prior to entering their 7th grade in school through their graduation from high school. Continuation in the program will be evaluated annually, and will be based on the student's active participation in programs provided throughout the year.

Please return the completed application along with required supporting materials (listed above) to the following address:

110 Eighth Street
J- Building, Suite 4400
Troy, NY 12180

If you have any questions about the program, contact the the program office at 518-276-3098, or e-mail RPI STEP.

RPI STEP Participant Annual Obligation

Each student is required to participate in at least one program offered each semester - July to December, and January to July. Each student will be required to complete the “RPI STEP Student Information Update Form” each fall. The form will be mailed to the student’s home, and e-mailed to parents/guardians, and will require updates on the student’s school, grade, Free/Reduced lunch status, career aspirations, along with a program survey. Additionally, RPI STEP is required to request the student’s grades and test scores from the student’s school; STEP may request participant help in securing these grades from their schools. All requested information must be received before the start of school year programs (mid-late September), by the date specified on the update form, in order for the student to continue to participate in RPI STEP.


STEP Programs

Activities described below are offered for information purposes only. Program needs and interests change, and we do our best to meet those interests and needs, so the scope and schedule of programs may change over time. 

Due to limited space, special requirements may be established and participation may be by invitation only for some of these programs. Once students are admitted, they are entitled to continue in the program until their graduation from high school as long as they live in the area and have the desire to continue. Students will be required to submit annual updates of their contact and school information, and a confirmation that they would like to continue in the program. 

Fall 2022 Welcome Back to Campus!

RPI STEP is excited to be able to welcome STEP students back to campus in September! Students who meet Rensselaer's health and safety protocols will be able to attend classes on campus, and others will continue to be able to participate in virtual programming.  Note the following:

  • RPI STEP is currently recruiting new students in grades 7-12 who meet the eligibility requirements (noted in this website above). Information sessions will be held on 8/17, at 12 noon, and 8/22, at 12 noon. Contact Pipeline Programs to be sent the WebEx link, or for more information. 
  • The Fall 2022 Brochure is currently being developed and will be posted here as soon as it's available in late August.
  • STEP ORIENTATION will be held on Saturday, September 17. Information has been mailed home on location and times. Meet the staff, teachers and the RPI students who will be working with us this year!
SPRING 2022 Program Information

RPI STEP will continue to operate virtually through Spring 2022. We have now begun recruiting participants for our Spring 2022 programs. The dates and times for the programs are listed on our Google calendar. For information on how to register for these programs, contact pipelineprograms@rpi.edu.


Students who will enter grades 7-10 the following school year will be eligible to participate in a project-based day camp program, typically two weeks in length. There is a different theme each year. In recent years we have done High-Altitude Weather Balloons, Sustainability STEM, Simple Machines and The Martian. There is usually at least one day trip during camp, either to a relevant museum or STEM industry site. Camp is exclusively available to those enrolled in RPI STEP, is free of charge, and includes lunch in the dining hall each day (at no cost to participants). 

Students who will enter grades 11 or 12 the following school year will be eligible to participate in Summer Path to Success. Path to Success in the summer focuses on career-readiness skills (resume-building, presentation-making and delivery, constructive criticism, mock interviews). In 2017, we added an advanced math skills component, aimed at making our student Calculus-ready. This is a week-long day program exclusively available to those enrolled in RPI STEP, is free of charge, and includes lunch in the dining hall each day (at no cost to participants).




A list of past Saturday programming is noted below.

Future City Competition: Future City lets students in 7th and 8th grades do the things engineers do: identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test and retest, build and then share the results. Students will use SimCity software to design a virtual model of their futuristic city, build a physical 3D model of their city using creative materials such as recycled goods, demonstrate their writing skills, and enhance communication skills though a team presentation.

VEX Robotics: In the VEX Robotics Competition, presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communications, and more. The 2017-18 game was called “In the Zone”. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Stacking Cones on Goals, by Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, by having the Highest Stacks, and by Parking Robots. We will attend local competitions with hopes of qualifying for regionals.

SAT Prep: Local teachers who already work closely with RPI STEP, and who have been trained by Cambridge Educational Services, will provide SAT Prep sessions for 11th and 12th graders in September and October. The SAT has ELA and Math components, and these teachers are trained in those fields and certified for classroom instruction.

Path to Success-College Readiness: This program will run in November and December, and is open to 11th and 12th graders, with one session for students AND parents. Topics such as narrowing a list of schools to apply to, the application forms and essay, the financial aid forms and process, the importance of a college degree, and more will be covered.

Intro. to Programming: RPI's Coding&&Community Club, a diverse group of college students who are passionate about and experienced in computer programming, facilitate interactive sessions which introduce STEP students to the following programming languages: Python, HTML/CSS, Java, C++, and terminal. 

Homework Help: A local certified math teacher, as well as RPI student staff, are available to help students with their homework, prepare for tests, and review content. 

Scholar Bowl: This is a partnership activity with the other regional STEPs (Albany Medical, SUNY Albany, Union, and FMCC). Students will meet Saturday mornings to practice answering questions from all Regents subjects, and then will compete as a team against the other regional STEPs in a Science Bowl-modeled event.



February: Path to Success is offered to students in grades 9 and 10 (grade 11 as space permits) for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of February public school break week (President's week). Path to Success includes lessons in leadership and essay writing, as well as SAT/ACT test preparation provided by trained local teachers who work with STEP, and includes a practice SAT test taken under normal testing conditions with scoring and analysis provided by Cambridge Educational Services. We also typically offer a day trip to visit college campuses of interest to those in grades 9-12, and a field trip to a STEM industry site or relevant museum for students in grades 7-9.

April: Typically, we offer a college visit experience for grades 9-12 and a field experience for students in grades 7-9. 


**Please note that all expenses (transportation, accommodations, meals) are covered by RPI STEP's grant funding. Also, we do sometimes ask for parent chaperones, in which case we cover all cost for chaperones as well.**


2022 Caylin Moore, Author, Rhodes Scholar and Aspiring Professor (virtual)

2021 Dr. Bernard Harris, Medical Doctor, First African American to Walk in Space, Entrepreneur and President of the National Math and Science Initiative (virtual)

2017 Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: "A Place for All People: Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson's Reflections on The National Museum of African American History and Culture"

2016 Chris Emdin, Ph.D.: "Hip Hop Remix of Science Education"

2015 Dr. Sampson Davis: "Living and Dying in the Brick City: Stories from the Front Lines of an Inner-City E.R."

2014 James McLurkin, Ph.D.: "Dances with Robots"

2013 David Pogue: "Disruptive Tech: What's New, What's Coming & How It Will Change Everything" (what every middle & high school student should know to optimize their success in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)

2012 Dr. Calvin Mackie, Ph.D.: "The Whole Individual: How to be Motivated & Critical-Thinking in Striving to Reach Goals"



Staff and Faculty

RPI STEP is always looking for enthusiastic college students, local middle and high school teachers and college faculty to lead the various programs it offers.

For more information on faculty and student positions, e-mail RPI STEP or call 518-276-3098.    


Director: Cynthia Smith              

Program Coordinator: Rosie Dollard

Program Assistants: Marlene Clouden and Elizabeth Darling

Path to Success Instructor: Mrs. Sciolino

Math Instructors:  Ms. Kube, Troy School District

Greenhouse Coordinator: vacant, Troy High School

Science Instructors: Ms. Peter, Lansingburgh High School, Mrs. Hartshorn and Ms. Sparacin, Troy High School

ELA Instructor: Mrs. Culliton, Lansingburgh High School

Science and Technology Instructors: Mrs. Ciemny and Mr. Yarberry

Troy School District Guidance Contacts: Ms. Gelatt and Ms. Shaw

Lansingburgh School District Guidance Contacts: Ms. Crawford-Young and Ms. Sacco

Brunswick School District Guidance Contacts: Ms. Dowling Ryan, Ms. Collins and Ms. Fulgan



Coding && Community

National Society of Black Engineers [NSBE]

National Organization of Minority Architecture Students [NOMAS]

Engineering Ambassadors

Science Ambassadors



STEP Resources

RPI STEP is a member of a vast community across New York State that seeks to engage middle and high school students in STEM activities that will make them college and career ready:

* Take a look at our pictures, and useful information on scholarships, college and career readiness, and STEM enrichment sites on Google.

* New York State Education Department Office of Postsecondary Access, Support & Success  - OPASS for STEP
* STEP programs across NY State (for students attending school in grades 7-12)
* C-STEP programs across NY State (for students who have graduated highschool and attend these colleges)
* STEP For Leaders


Coronavirus Impact and Updates

RPI STEP is excited to be able to welcome STEP students back to campus in September 2022! 

For more information, see the University Health and Safety Standards.