A quick message from SISE Program Coordinator Thomas Aláan. (He likes cats and he made the video. Bet you couldn't tell.)

PLEASE NOTE: The deadline for applications is May 30, 2019, and interviews need to be completed by June 15, 2019.


Thinking of Applying


Should I apply to SISE?

If you’re interested in energy, sustainable energy, or sustainability and can get away for about two weeks in August then yes, you should totally apply.


Who is eligible?

An applicant must match one of the following three criteria:

  • be enrolled in energy or sustainability-related program at an academic institute as an (a) senior-undergraduate, (b) graduate student, (c) in a professional or certificate program;

  • be a recent graduate of an academic program; or

  • be employed in an energy or sustainability-related field, including but not limited to: the sciences, business, architecture, urban planning, economics, politics, law, etc.

Please note that as of 2019, exceptions to the above criteria will be made on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy. To be considered, a prospective candidate should first contact SISE by email, provide a thorough resume or CV, and a narrative detailing why they should be exempt from these requirements.


Who typically applies?

SISE believes that a diverse pool of participants is essential. 

Aside from meeting the necessary qualifications for entry, there is not a standard profile for participants. Having a cohort of diverse backgrounds and experiences enriches the SISE program. Some participants have little to no internship or research experience. Others have many years of professional experience and multiple advanced degrees.

During the vetting process, SISE looks for evidence of specific character traits that are crucial for a thriving learning environment. Preferred candidates are collaborative, self-motivated, intellectually curious, open to exploring new ideas, have a positive attitude, and a strong work ethic. While experience and accomplishments are valuable and can confirm the possession of these qualities, a resume full of achievements is not required for admissions into the program.   


What are your expectations?

If you are thinking of applying to the program, please consider the following.


You'll have a very demanding schedule. Very.

Folks sometimes refer to SISE as a “boot camp.” Participants should expect a full schedule: 

  • lectures from 9 AM to 5 PM every day

  • evening activities

  • "free time" spent in collaborative research groups

  • late nights and early morning work to meet deadlines

For two weeks, you'll immerse yourself in a very intense environment. If you are accepted into the program and attend, be prepared to work hard and spend most of your waking (and sleeping) hours involved in SISE activities. (We promise, you'll have fun, too!)


Be committed to the two weeks. Every day.

Applicants are expected to attend all activities. SISE has strict attendance policies and reserves the right to dismiss participants that miss days or who are continually late to events. Participants expelled from the program will lose financial support - including lodging.

  • Applicants who plan to miss more than a full day should not apply to the program.

  • Participants may be excused for activities (e.g., work, school, religious observance, etc.), not to exceed one day, provided they are made clear at the time of application. SISE reserves the right to rescind admissions offers at any time if absences are unreasonable or excessive.

  • Absences from some events are not permitted. Check with SISE ahead of time.

  • Except in extreme instances, participants who are sick, tired, or sleep-deprived :) are still expected to attend all events. Participants who fall gravely ill, or experience a personal emergency, will be excused.

If you are accepted into the program, understand you're expected to commit yourself to attend all of the program.


You need to step outside your comfort zone. Get outside the box.

The program is not focused on one specific subject, field, or idea. SISE participants are always surprised by the quality, quantity, and diversity of knowledge they are exposed to during the program. (And sometimes overwhelmed!) Participants are challenged to engage with content in unfamiliar professional fields and work on projects outside their primary field of expertise.

If you're accepted into the program, you should be open to intellectual and experiential growth in unfamiliar ways.


Application Process


How do I apply?

Step One: Complete the online application.
This is pretty straightforward, but be ready with the following required information.


1. LinkedIn Profile: Make sure it's filled out completely and that it's viewable to the public (so we can see it).

2. Skype or Google Hangouts Username: You'll need one of these for step three.

3. Program Conflict Information: Only if applicable.

4. Essay: In 1,000 characters (including spaces), tell us why you want to attend SISE.


Step Two: Email us your resume and a letter of recommendation.

This is pretty straightforward, too, but here's a little more detail.


Resume: Your resume can be any length, so don't worry about getting it onto one page. Just make sure it's current.

Letter of Recommendation: This should be newly written for you for the SISE program. Most importantly, this letter should provide insight into your personality, work ethic, and potential for success at SISE. Make sure your letter is from an instructor or supervisor that can speak extensively to these points and can provide examples (i.e., "_____ was in my class for one semester and had an A average" will not boost your application). The letter must also be written on cover letter (if available) and include contact information for the letter writer. All letter writers are contacted to verify the authenticity of their letter.

Please submit both your resume and letter in a single .pdf file in one email to uic.sise.admissions@gmail.com. You may also include additional documents - such as other letters of recommendation, presentations, work samples, etc. - provided they're all combined into a single .pdf, and they are under 10MB. 

If your letter writer prefers to send their letter privately, they may do so to uic.sise.admissions@gmail.com.


Step Three: Interview

After you've submitted the online application, resume, and letter of recommendation, SISE Program Coordinator Thomas Aláan will contact you to set up an interview. The interview is very informal and will last approximately 30 minutes.


Admissions Process


When does my application need to be completed?

SISE accepts applications between January 1 and May 30. Everything must be submitted electronically to SISE by May 30, and all interviews must be completed by June 15. Unfortunately, we cannot make any exceptions to this timeline and only completed applications will be reviewed.


When do I find out whether I'm accepted?

SISE accepts participants on a semi-rolling basis with admissions being granted in early March, late April, and mid-June


Cost of Attending


What about financial aid to attend?

SISE participants come from all across the United States to stay in Chicago for two weeks. Travel and lodging can be an insurmountable cost for many outside Chicago. To make this affordable, SISE offers scholarships to many participants. You should anticipate receiving assistance in some, if not all, of the following areas:


Program Fee

There is no program fee. All participants attend free of charge.



The most expensive part of coming to SISE is lodging for two weeks. Because of this, SISE provides on-campus housing to all participants free of charge. Lodging is on campus in dorms, either on the east or west side of campus. Most participants will share a room with another SISE participant. We strongly encourage SISE participants, even those that live in Chicago, to stay on campus for the duration of the program. Those that stay are more socially involved, and research groups can collaborate more effectively.



Transportation scholarships are awarded based on need. The primary factors in determining recipients of these scholarships are the distance from Chicago, availability of transportation, and the presumed cost of travel to and from Chicago. As a general rule, the closer to Chicago the participant is the less aid he or she will receive. Participants will be notified of their admissions letter if they are to receive a transportation scholarship. Participants should review the following map for eligibility.

Most international students (F1 and J1 visas) studying in the United States are eligible for transportation support. Applicants applying from outside the United States are not guaranteed travel support.

Participants are responsible for securing their transportation. SISE will reimburse eligible participants a percentage of their final total cost. Reimbursement is contingent on completing the program and will be awarded in the weeks after it has concluded. Participants who have questions, concerns, or who need suggestions for transportation may contact the SISE Program Coordinator.


What should I expect to pay?

Great news! Attending the program itself is free. There are no program fees, and SISE covers your lodging. While not an exhaustive list, SISE participants should plan to pay for the following.


Transportation to/from Chicago

Many participants receive a partial travel reimbursement for attending SISE after completing the program. Participants not granted a reimbursement should expect to fully pay their way to and from Chicago.


Transportation in/around Chicago

Except for designated SISE events where transportation is provided by the program, participants should expect to pay for their own transportation around the city. This includes public transit, Divvy bikes, taxis, Uber, or other modes of transportation, as well as any form of parking, gas, mileage, or other expenses incurred by the use of personal vehicles.



Except for designated SISE events where food is provided by the program, participants should expect to pay for all their meals.  This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks during weekdays and weekends.


Site Seeing and Souvenirs

Except for program site visits, participants should expect to pay for any additional trips to local points of interest or to purchase gifts or mementos.


Other questions


What's with the occasional cat references?

What, you don't like cats? Who doesn't like cats?


Are there cats at SISE?

Only in spirit and in meme.


Can I bring my cat?

Maybe it’s best to leave them at home and enjoy the local Chicago cats.



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