Each summer since 2002, PCCM brings high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to Princeton to attend the Princeton University Materials Academy (PUMA), a three-week materials science and engineering program. In 2019, 15 students from Trenton, Hamilton and Princeton learned about the history of materials used for information storage, from clay to computers. In addition to participating in coursework, independent projects and lab tours, the PUMA students met with undergraduate and graduate students for conversations about career paths in science and engineering. The program was held from July 8-25, 2019.
The PUMA curriculum consists of inquiry-based, hands-on labs and project-based learning, supported by lectures and interaction with PCCM faculty and graduate students. The students work with the faculty on current research projects; therefore the curriculum is different every year.
In past editions, there have been two divisions of PUMA, one program geared toward local area high school students, and another geared toward middle schoolers. In the PUMA program for middle schoolers, twelve to fifteen students participate in seminars that focus on materials science and energy sustainability. Curriculum for the program was developed from the science and engineering research of PCCM faculty. The week-long program was dedicated to narrowing the academic achievement gap across racial and ethnic groups, and they were supported by the National Science Foundation through Princeton's Center for Complex Materials and the University's Community House service organization.