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Summer Textile Exploration Program

A residential camp for rising high school seniors

Apply by April 15, 2024 

What is STEP?

Applications for STEP 2024 sessions will close April 15.

Our Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) consists of five one-week sessions for rising high school seniors interested in learning about the textile industry, fashion, engineering, chemistry and marketing.

STEP students will live on our campus, complete a project related to their area of interest in our studios and labs, and attend sessions to learn more about:

  • Our five bachelor’s degrees.
  • The college application process.
  • Wilson College of Textiles scholarships.
  • Internship and job opportunities available to Wilson College students.

Up to 35 students per week are chosen based on their academic success, interest in the college and extracurricular activities.

Project Group Examples

When each student applies to STEP, they’ll rank their top project interest. Each project group correlates to one of our academic programs, and students will spend part of each day completing a hands-on project in that field of study.

Below are just a few examples of projects that have taken place in the past.

Please note that the projects listed are subject to change each year, and not all project groups will be available during each camp session.

Apparel Design

A student working at a sewing machine.

Students learn about the design process to create a mood board and a 3D digital rendering of their design using CLO. They will then create a garment themed around upcycling, zero-waste or kimonos. Finally, students model their designs on the runway during Friday presentations.

Textile Engineering

A student watching an experiment with a fire in a fume hood.

Biomedical Textiles: Students have the opportunity to collect bacteria samples from various surfaces, grow them and apply them to different fabrics to test an antimicrobial finish’s ability to reduce bacteria on different textile surfaces. The information learned can have an impact on textile products used in everyday life as well as hospitals, military personnel and much more.

Protective Textiles: Students in this group learn about those textiles created to keep us safe. The participants will have the opportunity to perform experiments on a variety of fabric to test their fire and water resistance and visit a local fire department to learn why it’s important. The participants also perform trials on a variety of face mask types to asses their efficacy.

Smart Textiles: Students explore the properties of various fibers and textile production methods. They are then tasked with creating a smart textile (a textile that responds to external stimuli). Students create a woven textile design with light-up capabilities. They also construct a McKibben Actuator model, a manmade muscle used in artificial limbs.

Business Management

A student writing notes near a game.

Marketing: Students work in groups to develop a marketing plan and analysis for an apparel company or brand that is not a part of the current target market. Students then develop a new sub-brand or brand in order to successfully target that market.

Business Simulation: In teams, students participate in a business simulation that takes them through the start-up and growth of a textile manufacturing business, addressing the relevant decisions for business management. Students learn business strategies, financial planning, business sustainability, and they learn the differences between manufacturing and retail.

Textile Design

A student looking through a stack of digitally printed fabric samples.

Students create their own motifs using hand and digital methods, and then develop innovative repeat patterns for textiles. Emphasis has been placed on students learning CAD design skills, color theory and design principles for printed textile design. In the end, students had the opportunity to have their design digitally printed on cotton fabric, and many have expressed plans to use their design(s) to create things such as tote bags, pencil pouches, pillows, and much more.

Polymer Chemistry

Two students working on creating a pink fiber

Students identify what a polymer is, how synthetic polymers are made, and where we find polymers in our everyday lives. They explore the polymerization model and create their own model of the molecular structure of polyethylene. Lastly, they learn the history and use of nylon and have the opportunity to make and dye their own nylon rope.

When and Where?

Students will choose one of the following weeks to attend STEP. Please note that only select students are eligible to attend Week 5 (Textile PIoneer Week).

  • Week 1: June 9-14
  • Week 2: June 16-21
  • Week 3: June 23-28
  • Week 4: July 7-12
  • Week 5: July 14-19 (Textile Pioneer Week)
Textile engineering students see a sample they’ve just finished machine knitting in the Wilson College lab. It’s part of a larger e-textile project they worked on throughout the week.

Cost and Financial Aid

The STEP 2024 program cost is $450. This payment covers lodging, transportation, materials, lunches and dinners during the camp.

Partial and full scholarships are available for those with demonstrated financial need. A financial aid application is included within the STEP application.

Frequently Asked Questions

STEP students will live in one of the residence halls on main campus. Roommates are randomly assigned, unless we receive a specific roommate request, in which case we will do our best to accommodate the request.

The cost of the program covers lodging, transportation, materials, lunches and dinners during the camp. Please note: NC State is a cashless university, so students will need to bring a debit or credit card if they are interested in getting ice cream, snacks, coffee or items from the NC State bookstore.

Summer Textile Exploration Pioneer Program (STEPP)

The fifth week of STEP is called the Summer Textile Exploration Pioneer Program (STEPP) and focuses on students from non-metropolitan areas of North Carolina. This program provides resources specifically geared towards students from these regions, such as:

  • Personalized support to maximize success in the college and scholarship application process.
  • Tips for writing college and scholarship application essays.
  • Additional opportunities for parent/guardian engagement.
  • Financial literacy education.

To qualify for STEPP (July 16-21), a student must be from a non-metropolitan county in North Carolina. The UNC System Strategic Plan says that a non-metropolitan county is any county that the NC State Department of Commerce has included in its Tier 1 or Tier 2 lists. At this time, the university is utilizing the 2016 Tier designations map.

To find out if you qualify, see the map below (click to enlarge) or see a list of county designations:

2016 North Carolina County Tier Designations

Application Information

Yes, you must be a current high school junior to be eligible for STEP.

Our rule of thumb is that STEP attendees must be planning to apply to a four year university in the fall.

We are looking for students who are on-track (should they continue their current level of academic achievement) to be strong candidates for admission to NC State the following year. We look at grades, course selection, extra-curricular activities, leadership roles, unique life experiences and writing abilities. We are also looking for thorough and thoughtful application answers.

Please note that a STEP admission decision is not a direct indicator of a future NC State admission decision.

The application requires you to upload your unofficial transcript as one complete document. Pictures of your transcript and progress reports will not be accepted.

We accept homeschool, narrative transcripts and other transcripts with nontraditional means of course evaluation. We do ask that your transcript is comprehensive, including your classes and evaluations (grades) through the current enrollment term. Your transcript should also confirm your standing as a high school junior (rising senior).

We do not accept screenshots from PowerSchool or the equivalent. We also do not accept progress reports.

All applications will be reviewed following the April 15 deadline and applicants will be notified of their status at the beginning of May by the email address on their application.

Week 5 is the Summer Textile Exploration Pioneer Program (STEPP) and is only an option for students from pre-selected, non-metropolitan areas of North Carolina.

Contact Us

Questions? We’d love to hear from you! Email or call 919.515.6640 during normal business hours.