Program Overview

The Build a Better Book project began in 2016 to study youth engagement in STEM through the design and creation of accessible materials using low- and high-tech maker technologies. In phase 2 of the project (Empathy-Driven Engineering Internships for Teens: Connecting Technical Work to Social Needs; 2021-25), we are focusing more specifically on teens' interests in STEM careers by examining the influences of a professionally-structured, empathy-driven engineering internship on teens’ perceptions of engineering, identities, and transferrable STEM skills. We are implementing and studying this internship model across several diverse formal and informal education settings, including a university-based summer internship program (CO), a public library makerspace (NJ), a makerspace/entrepreneurship non-profit organization (MA), and a faith-based high school (NJ).

Build a Better Book (BBB) is pleased to offer high school students the opportunity to participate in an immersive engineering and design internship and research project focused on using Maker technologies to create accessible materials for blind or visually impaired clients.

Through the internship, student interns learn about and complete projects using:

  • Universal Design principles and empathy-driven design
  • Accessibility tools and designing for disabilities
  • Maker Technologies such as 3D modeling and printing, sound, computer programming and laser cutters
  • Tactile and multi-modal learning styles 
  • Characteristics of blindness, vision impairments, and other disabilities
  • Job skills and designing for a specific client
  • Professional workplace skills, including communication, collaboration and critical problem-solving skills

Internship Requirements

Internship opportunities and requirements vary depending on the hosting site. Please check the link in the sidebar for more details about each site and to view past internship projects.

Across all sites, Build a Better Book strives to provide opportunities for students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to participate in an out-of-school-time engineering internship experience. We strongly encourage students from the following backgrounds to apply:

  • Underrepresented in science and engineering, including girls, African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native American students
  • LGBTQ+ students
  • Underserved, such as coming from low socioeconomic means, which may be indicated by qualification for free/reduced lunch
  • Potentially the first family member to attend college
  • Absence of science and engineering degrees in family
  • Coming from a high school with low admittance rates to top-tier colleges, especially rural or predominantly minority high schools

All applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be considered, regardless of race or ethnicity.

National Science Foundation logo

The Build a Better Book project is supported by the National Science Foundation under ITEST awards #1615247 and #2049109. Any opinions, findings and conclusions presented here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.