So here is the situation our department seems to face. We are a fairly large public school in the central valley of California. Our department is shrinking and there is little opportunity for students to be competitive for when they apply to phd schools. This summer, a fellow student and I are at SLAC (him for the summer working here and me for 2 weeks attending the summer institute) and we began discussing the problem and started realizing what was going on. The problem seems two-fold. 1) The students who are in our department seem like they "wound up" in physics instead of having a genuine interest in it and 2) we have little advantage over other schools as far as things students can do to become competitive when applying to phd schools and in general, gather skills they need for real jobs in the field. Our solution seems two-fold as well. We currently work with CERN and send students over there every summer, although the results haven't been all that great. It seems more like people just getting a free trip to Europe instead of getting to work on one of the greatest physics experiments of our time. This is lovely and all, but it seems like branching out to SLAC would help build on this since if needed, we can send students there far easier than CERN. This would allow students to get experience easier since we can supplement the summer stuff at CERN with full time participation with SLAC (or at least supplemental summer work with SLAC). Our thinking is if we can achieve more collaboration with SLAC, it would open up a lot more doors for our graduating students and our department. The second problem is the people who attend our department. We want to start working with high schoolers locally, namely AP physics students, and give students the opportunity to work little side research with our university (something they can handle). We can get them to attend our departments colloquiums and stuff like that and possibly sponsor trips to SLAC to see the lab and see what physics really is about! Our hope is that we can get students to rethink higher end universities and attend our university. To me, the big name schools credentials, to high schoolers, is all hear-say (not that it is hear-say!) and we want to show them that even universities like ours can carry our own weight. Of course, going from a small department with one connection with CERN to hopefully a bigger department with connections to CERN, SLAC, and possibly other places, is a big undertaking. However, it's 2010... and it makes me wonder why no one seems to have thought about this before in our department? Does anyone have experience building up programs like this? We are well aware of budgetary issues, so we are thinking modestly. I'd love to hear peoples ideas and thoughts and if I'm lucky, some insight from people who have already tried this.