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Engineering Smart Start

Engineering Smart Start (ESS) is a 4-week residential program that provides incoming engineering freshmen with the opportunity to meet their academic goals.  They will work in ALEKS math modules with an academic coach while participating in a wide variety of academic, career, project, and service-related activities. 

Students will have the opportunity to place into Calculus I (MA 113) by the end of the program. A small first-year scholarship will be awarded to students who achieve calculus readiness through Engineering Smart Start.   

This program is for new freshmen admitted to the College of Engineering for the Fall 2020 semester who:

  • Have a math ACT score of 25-26 (or an SAT 2016 math score of 590-640);
  • Complete the proctored ALEKS (UK math placement) exam with a score of 61-75; and
  • Are not otherwise eligible to enroll in Calculus I (MA 113) in Fall 2020.

All basic costs (housing, food, instruction, materials, etc.) are provided free of charge for students admitted to Engineering Smart Start. A $50 deposit is required upon acceptance, but it is refundable upon completion of the program.  [The deposit can be waived for students who have demonstrated significant financial need.]

The program runs July 6-31, 2020. Students with a See Blue U freshman orientation scheduled during this period are still encouraged to apply for Engineering Smart Start.

How To Apply

The Engineering Smart Start application has several components:

Proctored ALEKS (math placement) exam

If you have not yet taken a proctored ALEKS (UK math placement) exam, please go to www.uky.edu/tl/code to receive a free ProctorU testing voucher. The voucher will allow you to take the proctored ALEKS exam. See www.uky.edu/app/aleks-registration-steps for info on how to take the proctored ALEKS.

Timing of ALEKS exam:  It is permissible to fill out the application for Engineering Smart Start before you have taken the proctored ALEKS exam.  Your application, however, will not be considered until you have received a score for the proctored ALEKS. To ensure the most accurate placement results, you will be asked to work for 3 hours in online ALEKS math instructional modules before you can take the proctored exam. We encourage you to take the proctored ALEKS as early as possible in the application process.     

Please note: The testing voucher link above is only valid for Engineering Smart Start candidates. Please do not share the link with other students.   


The ESS application can be submitted online at https://uky.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bynseaPmKApb2HX. There are three parts to the application:

  • Application form – You can submit this electronically at the above link.
  • Math teacher recommendation form – This is a short questionnaire that one of your high school math teachers can fill out and return to Susan Herrick at slherr1@uky.edu. The math teacher recommendation form is available here
  • Essay – In 500 words or less, please describe a time when you faced a difficult obstacle that you had to struggle/work hard to achieve. What was the situation?  How did you approach the problem in order to solve it? What personal qualities do you have that you think made you successful in your efforts?

Your essay can be submitted to Susan Herrick at slherr1@uky.edu.


Engineering Smart Start applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. The program size is limited to 25 participants, so we encourage you to turn in your application and take your proctored ALEKS exam as soon as possible.

Questions about Engineering Smart Start? Please contact either of the below individuals:

Dr. Kim Anderson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
(859) 257-1864

Susan Herrick, Director of Student Success
(859) 257-4881