The vision for Summer Engineering Expeditions began with the experience that Tracy Furutani, our founder, had when he was a student:

I took the usual classes in high school—English, math, and so forth—and like everyone else, I worried about getting my homework done and earning good grades. Then one year I attended a summer science program. At that program, we worked in teams, working to complete an open-ended astronomy project. There were no grades, just our own knowledge and satisfaction of the progress we made.

Though I learned much about math and physics and astronomy at that program, it was not until many years later that I realized the true lesson: the real, working world operates as team-based efforts to solve open-ended projects. Moreover, knowledge did not come in units of classes; you study what you need to know to get things done. What I had really been learning was how to do things in the real world.

The label ‘experiential learning’ has come to be applied to this approach. While experiential learning has made some inroads into the K-12 classroom, it is still relatively rare.  Yet we believe many high-school students can benefit from it.

We use high-power rocketry as a basis because it is both fun and naturally multi-disciplinary; it allows us to bring together advanced learning from a wide variety of math, science and engineering topics into one over-arching project. Organizing the students into teams gives them valuable experience at cooperative problem solving. The scale of the project provides real satisfaction and helps young minds absorb and retain what they have learned. In short, we have designed the program to give students an intense and fun practice of life skills that will benefit them in college and beyond, all while learning and experiencing real engineering.

The SEE program is not for everyone. But for students who are curious about science or engineering, or for those who will be more motivated by results that can be seen and felt, SEE can provide a truly unique and valuable experience.


Tracy Furutani

Tracy Furutani has been a teacher for more than 20 years and currently teaches physics, earth sciences and chemistry at North Seattle College.  He also served as the Academic Director of the prestigious Summer Science Program astrophysics campus for ten years. 

Tracy has a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington, an M.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University, and a dual History and Science bachelors degree from Caltech.  He also has a Level 2 certification from the National Association of Rocketry.  As advisor of the Rocketry Club for North Seattle Community College, he has mentored dozens of students to achieve their high-powered rocketry certifications. 

Denise Draper

Denise has a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Washington, where she also taught software engineering classes, and an undergraduate degree from Caltech.  She is a professional software developer with experience at Microsoft and a number of software startups.

Mike Harrell

Mike Harrell is a lecturer in Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington.  He has also established and advised rocketry programs at colleges throughout the Seattle area via the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. He holds a Level 2 high-power rocketry certification from the National Association of Rocketry.

Mike has a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington and an M.S. and B.A. from the University of Oregon.

Additional Staff

Additional staff (usually college professors or graduate students) cover special topics and provide extra support participants.

Guest Lecturers

Every year we invite special guests from elite research or industrial institutions to share their inspiring stories and perspectives.


Summer Engineering Expeditions was founded in 2018 by Tracy Furutani and Denise Draper.  It is headquartered in Lake Forest Park, Washington.

You can contact us at:
address:4630 NE 178th St
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

Donors: Help us Help Them

SEE is organized as an LLC, but our long-term goals include making sure that we can provide an excellent program to qualified students regardless of income level.  If you are interested in helping us reach this goal, either financially or with in-kind contributions, please contact us at info@summer-engineering-expeditions; we would love to talk to you.