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Pre-College Programs for Engineering Diversity

Pre-College Math Institute/Valdes Math

The Pre-College Math Institute (PCMI)/Valdes Math, a joint effort between Stanford University School of Engineering and Redwood City School District, is an outreach program that connects Stanford students to middle school students in their neighboring community. PCMI/Valdes Math provides six weeks of intensive math curriculum for students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade. The program offers four levels of math, ranging from basic math to algebra. Classrooms are run by certified teachers from Redwood City school district and assisted by six Stanford student tutors, who act as role models and provide intensive math tutoring in support of the teacher’s lessons.

On average, PCMI/Valdes Math students gain more than a one-year aptitude in math ability during the six-week program. The program has become a solid example of a K-12 education initiative and community outreach.

Program Vision

The founders and staff of PCMI/Valdes Math strongly believe that math can be an equalizing force among underrepresented minorities in an educational setting. PCMI/Valdes Math attempts to build student confidence in math through daily testing, one-on-one staff interaction with students and a positive, achievement-oriented environment.

The Pre-College Math Institute/Valdes Math is designed to expose underrepresented minority students to the possibility of a career in math, science or engineering. Math classes are combined with science projects, such as construction and launching of bottle rockets, as well as with mentoring and advising, and recreational activities like weekly swimming sessions, a T-shirt design contest and weekly assemblies.

PCMI/Valdes Math also engages students in a university environment by contact with Stanford students, graduate students and faculty. Finally, PCMI attempts to build skills that will assist students throughout their high school careers, such as study skills, self-teaching, test-taking and a strong work ethic. 

For Redwood City students and parents:

Applications for PCMI/Valdes Math 2019 will be available through Redwood City schools beginning in the spring of 2019. Please contact your school principals or teachers with questions about this program or visit

For Stanford tutors:

The 2019 PCMI staffing application Deadline is February 2019. 

Level Playing Field Institute’s Summer Math And Science Honors Academy (SMASH)


The Summer Math and Science Honors (SMASH) Academy is a state-of-the-art Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) summer enrichment program at the UC Berkeley and Stanford campuses. Level Playing Field Institute selects high-potential, low-income high school students of color to participate in the STEM-focused SMASH Academy at Stanford University. While living on campus for five weeks, students experience college and are compelled to learn to prioritize their efforts and manage their schedules. Through study sessions, scholars are exposed to the concepts of office hours and of seeking help from instructors, teaching assistants and peers. SMASH scholars also receive year-round academic support including SAT prep, college counseling, financial aid workshops and other activities to ensure continued academic success. 

Program Vision

The objectives are to:

  • Prepare students from underrepresented communities to be competitive in STEM-related studies at competitive universities.
  • Educate students about graduate school opportunities and encourage them to eventually attend in order to pursue professional, STEM-related studies or careers.
  • Encourage a sense of social responsibility through promotion of critical thinking, civic awareness and leadership.

With its finely tuned integrated curriculum, SMASH guides its scholars through an inquiry-based process that allows them to use math and science to solve real-world problems of relevance to them. They learn content through its application and have access to modern lab equipment. Through research projects and group work, scholars complete college-like assignments.

The Summer Math and Science Honors (SMASH) Academy is:

  • A three-year, five-week summer math and science enrichment program
  • For high achieving, low-income high school students of color
  • Focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • Successful in preparing scholars for college and achievement in higher education
  • Free of cost

SMASH scholars spend five weeks each summer at a SMASH site on a college campus (currently at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and Morehouse College) immersed in rigorous STEM classes. They also receive year-round academic support including SAT prep, college counseling, financial aid workshops and other activities to ensure continued academic success.

SMASH students live in campus housing in gender-specific suites. Campus housing activities are monitored by trained resident assistants. Scholars participate in planned weekly recreational activities and have use of many terrific campus resources in their limited free time. Room and board are free to all SMASH Academy scholars.

For students and parents:

Applications for SMASH 2019 are available through the SMASH website.

For Stanford tutors:

Information about joining the Level Playing Field Institute team as a tutor, graduate lecturer and workshop leader can be found here.

K-12 Education Initiatives

Stanford Student Coursework Opportunities

Several other K-12 outreach efforts are organized and implemented by Stanford students who have the option to enroll in individualized instruction (Engineering 199), for course credit. Through Engineering 199, Stanford students have the opportunity to provide “minds-on, hands-on” presentations that bridge the abstract nature of theories to practical examples. The presentations make math, science and engineering more understandable and therefore more accessible to young students. These instructional presentations also highlight the contributions made to math, science and technology made by underrepresented minorities.

Research Internships for High School Students

The Office of Science Outreach lists internship opportunities.