Applications for 2024 are closed.


Introducing underrepresented NC students to research in STEM fields 

INSPIRE (Introducing STEM Pathways through Inquiry and Research Experiences) introduces academically talented participants from a wide range of backgrounds to STEM research and helps cultivate their leadership skills and competencies with experiences in STEM research and in solving complex, real-world problems.

INSPIRE is an expansion of the Summer Leadership and Research Program that opens the opportunity to rising North Carolina 11th graders who have not been accepted into the NCSSM Online or Residential programs. The one-week summer residential experience on our NCSSM-Morganton campus is made possible by generous financial support from Trane Technologies after starting with support from Epic Games and the Barber Fund for Underrepresented Minorities for STEM Leadership. The program is free and available to students who are residents of North Carolina.


INSPIRE is designed to provide STEM opportunities and support for students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields and college attendance, including but not limited to students who identify as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or female; students from low-income households; and students from the three U.S. Congressional Districts in the state (1, 3, 11) with the lowest proportion of students pursuing postsecondary education after graduating high school.

Academic experience

Each student is matched with a mentor who facilitates an inquiry or research experience. Students also participate in enrichment activities, such as sessions and workshops on leadership competencies, team-building, self-advocacy, communication skills, networking, study skills and growth mindset. On the last day of the program, students present the results of their inquiry and/or research experiences to their families, the NCSSM-Morganton community and program partners in the greater Morganton community.

Residence hall accommodations

Participants will be assigned a double-occupancy room in the campus residence hall, with Community Coordinators, or CCs, who live in the residence halls among students and assume an in loco parentis or supervisory role of the students. A comprehensive array of scheduled activities are offered every evening, and free time can be used for studying, communicating with family, spending time with fellow participants, or relaxing. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.

I have liked the opportunity of working with a mentor in a setting of my choice and the enriching field trips most about the INSPIRE program.

—INSPIRE participant

2024 Program Details

Key Dates for Summer 2024

Jan. 8, 2024: Application portal opens
Feb. 15, 2024: INSPIRE Virtual Information Session (7 p.m.)
March 8, 2024: Application portal closes
March 28, 2024: Acceptance notifications emailed
April 11, 2024: Deadline for acceptance contracts to be submitted
June 23-28, 2024: INSPIRE @ NCSSM-Morganton

INSPIRE Virtual Office Hours: The purpose of the INSPIRE Virtual Office Hours is to answer any questions that parents, students, and/or educators may have about the INSPIRE application process. Click below to sign up for a 15-minute time slot during one of the dates/times listed below.

January 16, 2024: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
March 5, 2024: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

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Contact Us

Gerri Cole

Associate Director of STEM Outreach, Equity, and Engagement