Program Information & Offerings
Our Frontiers majors and minors are taught synchronously giving students the opportunity to learn live with faculty and peers. All of the course offerings for this summer are located below along with descriptions. All of the course work will be virtual including lectures, project work, and labs. See below for more information.
Biomedical Engineering: Impacts on Global Health (Frontiers I & II)
At the intersection of engineering, biology, and medicine, sits an exciting field that exists to vastly improve the quality of life. This is biomedical engineering (BME), and WPI is at the forefront of research that is leading to many breakthroughs and developments. You will be introduced to a range of topics within BME from biomaterials and tissue engineering to biomechanics and beyond. You will design and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems using theoretical and hands-on approaches and learn how biomedical engineers can and should be actively involved in promoting social justice in BME and medicine. We will discuss the importance of recognizing and addressing bias, fostering inclusion, and implementing equitable practices when developing solutions to unmet clinical needs for overall improved patient care.
Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering (Frontiers I)
Civil engineering is one of the oldest and most diverse engineering disciplines focused on designing and constructing the infrastructure that supports daily life. Civil engineers coordinate projects, manage people, and are essential for improving the quality of life in society and protecting the environment. You will learn about the sustainable design and construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, buildings, water and waste-water treatment plants among others. Complete projects involving engineering team dynamics and communication, analysis and design of structures, and computer analysis to understand how human activities affect the quality of the environment.
Computer Modeling: Exploration of Engineering Software (Frontiers I)
Bring your question and find an answer through powerful software applications such as MATLAB and Mathcad.
In this journey, you will gain experience with programming and learn how to approach and solve a problem using scientific software. You will explore together engineering and scientific concepts while learning about signal and image processing, geometry of nature and fractals, complex systems and self-organization, cellular automata (Game of Life), networks and six degrees of separation. No previous programming experience needed.
Computer Science: Possibilities in Programming (Frontiers I)
Critical Insights from Learning Science (Frontiers II)
The human mind is capable of an incredible amount of learning, and the field of learning science can help us answer important questions about how to maximize our own learning! You will uncover the latest science about how memory works, effective study habits for long term retention, and how to set yourself up for creative breakthroughs. You will learn about these various topics through activities, exercises, and group discussion. After completing this program, students will be better equipped to optimize their learning and problem-solving in future college courses, their future careers, and in their everyday lives.
Cybersecurity:World-Wide Phenomena (Frontiers II)
Cyberattacks, from individuals to government agencies - the threat is real! In a world that is increasingly dependent on computer systems, the need for cybersecurity professionals is growing exponentially. Learn from WPI professors through hands-on experiences with topics such as Web-App security, network security, forensics, system security, cryptography, and privacy.
Data Science: Extracting Knowledge & Insights (Frontiers II)
Move beyond pie chart and bar graphs to tell a story with your data. Join us to explore the ever-growing world of data science! You will learn about data collection, statistical analysis, and data visualization techniques using the state-of-the-art software tool, Tableau. We will work through some hands-on practical exercises to gain technical knowledge, as well as to learn presentation skills, in a storytelling manner, to deliver significant findings.
Electrical & Computer Engineering (Frontiers II)
From the smartphone in your pocket to the international space station, electrical engineering is the foundation that powers all technology. You will explore electrical quantities (charge, current, voltage, etc...), electrical components, and how to build a circuit on a breadboard. We will also use simulations to learn about electrical lab equipment such as power supplies, multi-meters, function generators, and oscilloscopes to test circuits. You will apply your knowledge to design projects to solve real-world problems. Topics include audio amplification, biomedical applications, solar tracker, digital logic and programmable micro-controllers, and much more.
Engineering Exploration (Frontiers II)
You will explore various engineering disciplines, such as architectural engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, fire protection engineering, and mechanical engineering. This experience emphasizes the role of engineers as creative problem solvers, making a difference in society.
- Architectural Engineering: The science and engineering behind buildings' construction, operation, and maintenance are essential to our safety, health, and comfort. In this design studio, we learn about these fundamentals while designing a small structure.
- Biomedical Engineering: At the intersection of engineering, biology, and medicine, sits an exciting field that exists to vastly improve the quality of life. This is biomedical engineering (BME), and WPI is at the forefront of research that is leading to many breakthroughs and developments. You will be introduced to a range of topics within BME from biomaterials and tissue engineering to biomechanics and beyond.
- Chemical Engineering: This course provides an intensive, hands-on introduction to the broad and vital discipline of chemical engineering including conventional and developing chemical technologies. Students will be immersed into our three-story pilot scale laboratory and trained to safely and collaboratively operate industrial fluid flow equipment, separators, and reactors.
- Fire Protection Engineering: Are you curious about the science of fire? This course will introduce students to the field of fire protection engineering and the principles of fire behavior.
- Mechanical Engineering: This broad discipline includes many areas of interest: energy production and transfer, mechanical design, materials science, biomechanics, and fluid flow, among others. You will explore the extent of mechanical engineering through a mixture of fundamental concepts and experimentation. This program emphasis will be on energy transfer, starting from human power to an understanding of steam power to today's ensemble of conventional and alternative energy sources.
Interactive Media & Game Development (Frontiers I & II)
Explore the interdisciplinary world of game development. In this program, you will combine technology with art to create an interactive experience. Assume the role of programmer or artist, and work on a team to bring a game to life. You will develop your own story, environment, characters and sound effects. Throughout the program, you break down their ideas into simple rules, write algorithms, use powerful scripting languages, and play/test games.
Materials Science & Engineering (Frontiers II)
Everything is made of materials! This program dives into four types of materials (polymers, ceramics, metals, and composites) using lots of hands-on activities (many involving food)! Oreo cookies are a composite! Taffy is a polymer! We look at how the atoms that make up a material affect their hardness, ductility, strength, and more. Each day you will uncover a new materials science topic with at least one edible activity to illustrate the concept.
Mathematics: Applications in the Real-World (Frontiers I)
Mathematics is the foundation of most technological innovations. Join us to learn how a mix of classical mathematics and modern technology can be used to solve current problems and open up new areas. You will use this background to examine encryption of numbers on the Internet via the RSA algorithm, and analysis of human voice patterns and musical instruments through Fourier methods. Specific problems of current information technology that these address include the need for secure transmission of data over the Internet, and storage and use of music in digital format (WAV vs. MP3 files, for example). You will also learn how matrix methods explain the popular Google search algorithm.
Neuroscience: Unpacking the Mysteries of the Brain (Frontiers II)
The brain is our most complex organ and directs our physiology and behavior. Neuroscience research on how the brain works is crucial to advancements in a range of topics, including psychiatry (depression, anxiety), cognition, social behavior, neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, epilepsy), as well as the effects of covid on the brain. You will learn about the basic structure and function of the brain and how researchers study the brains of various animals. We will explore the processes crucial to how the brain works and what happens to these processes in both health and various disease states. Expert speakers will present how they use state of the art molecular genetic, data analytics, biochemical, and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the brain and its impact on our daily lives. You will leave with a valuable introduction to the mysteries of the brain which may provide a launch pad for an eventual career in neuroscience.
Physics: Journey into Modern Physics (Frontiers I)
Time travel, black holes, quantum realm- What do these things have in common? Physics! They are all principles of modern physics! Investigate selected fields and applications of modern physics - such as interplanetary travel, atomic spectroscopy, quantum phenomena, and black holes. This program incorporates the combination of lectures, audio-visual presentations, technical hands-on activities (simulations), and virtual visits to research facilities and national labs. Will your knowledge take you to the next dimension?
Psychology: Villains, Heroes & COVID (Frontiers II)
If you could be a comic book hero or villain, who would that be? Join us as we study the world of the healthy and unhealthy mind through the lens of the DSM-V, Jungian archetypes and comic book heroes and villains. We will also explore the impact that COVID-19 has wrought on people, and maybe even you. You will compose a short paper about your ‘internal comic book hero or villain’ as well as work with a team of fellow students to develop a brief presentation on what you have learned in the class. You will leave with a compendium of knowledge and a deeper sense-of-self.
Robotics Engineering (Frontiers II)
Discover the interdisciplinary nature of robotic design and operations. Using principles of mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as computer science, you will learn about force, torque, and stress analysis, material properties, power requirements, micro controllers, sensor operations, C-language programming, pneumatics. Apply this background knowledge to solve a number of challenging robotics problems. You will brainstorm, design, build, and test your individual Arduino-based robots. At the end of the program, you will demonstrate your successful robot by completing the selected challenges.
**There is an additional fee of $150 for the robot kit to be mailed to students.
Business: Dream of Being Your Own Boss? (Frontiers I & II)
Odds are you will be working for a business after you graduate, regardless of your major. Rather than being JUST an engineer or scientist for someone else, learn how to launch your own business! Be the shark, not the minnow! WPI’s world-renowned Business School can help you learn how to develop your own business plan; employ cutting-edge technology to drive your ideas; leverage social media to market to potential customers; and connect with investors to fund your vision. Learn from WPI professors, students and alumni who are changing the business environment and making a positive impact on the world!
Digital Imaging & Computer Arts (Frontiers I)
Turn your photos into art! This workshop focuses on the techniques for creating and manipulating images through digital means. You will develop an understanding of image alteration and designing vector and pixel arts using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Software is included.
Elements of Writing: The Application Essay (Frontiers I & II)
Investigate what happens when writers choose vocabulary, sentence structure, and vivid imagery to target a specific audience. WPI's approach will you improve the general writing skills needed for college. You will practice those skills more narrowly by creating a draft of your college application essay. You are encouraged to bring topics that appear on admission forms for colleges where they intend to apply.
Ethics of Robots and Artificial Intelligence (Frontiers II)
Engineers and technologists must be more aware of the ethical, legal, and social impacts of robotics and artificial intelligence. STEM professionals are actively contributing to the creation of new sets of ethical standards. What are the principles that underpin these new ethical standards? Should these standards be voluntary or enforced by a regulatory body? Since robots and AIs are designed to work with or alongside humans, do people have a right to understand what autonomous systems are doing and why? How can robotics and AI designers ensure that these systems are transparent and explainable? Focusing on these and other questions, this workshop will consider the place of ethics and moral values as part of our society’s increasing technological capabilities.
Financial Literacy (Frontiers II)
Do you plan to be wealthy? Then you need to understand financial concepts and how to apply them. This workshop begins with these questions:
- Why should I want to learn financial literacy?
- What are some typical incomes for various occupations?
- How do people become wealthy?
You will then move into forecasting by creating a life-long financial plan. With coaching, you will learn how to use a spreadsheet program to build your own financial forecast model. You will leave this program with your own plan to become financially successful.
Hip-hop and You Don't Stop (Frontiers II)
Hip-hop is arguably the most successful cultural practice ever invented in the United States. Since its origins in the 1970s South Bronx, Hip-hop has captured the imaginations of millions of young people in the United States and beyond. In this program, you will examine the historical origins of Hip-hop culture, its four pillars (MC-ing, DJ-ing, breakdancing, graffiti), its most important genres and artists, and its global reach. Through close readings of lyrics, beats, videos, and art, we will discuss some of the major themes of Hip-hop culture: race, class, gender, sexuality, place, performance, and identity.
Introduction to Electronic Composition (Frontiers II)
Combine your passion for music and technology by composing electronic music. In this workshop, you will learn the fundamentals of electronic composition, which includes composing using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and MIDI programming. We will explore the history and the key elements of electronic music in different styles, and how to use them in your own music. You will complete two original compositions and upload them to Soundcloud. No previous experience is required, but a passion for music is encouraged!
Legal Storytelling: Race, Gender, and the Law (Frontiers I & II)
Explores the legal narratives that configured the United States as a gendered and racialized system. You will explore: How do gender and race construct the law? How does the law construct gender and race? How does the law tell (and change) the stories of political, civic, and cultural experience in America? We will examine some of the foundational laws, Supreme Court cases, and executive orders that have shaped our understandings of race and gender during the 20th century. You will analyze cultural products inspired by film, music, news coverage, poetry, and personal narratives. We will also apply our analysis to controversial and multifaceted topics including: marriage, incarceration, citizenship, and free speech. While race and gender anchor the key questions in this program, we will discuss the intersectality of class, sexual orientation, nationality, and other identity categories.
Me, Myself and Music: Discovering the Connection (Frontiers I & II)
This workshop begins and ends by asking these questions:
- What does music mean to me?
- What style(s) of music do I like and why?
- How and when do I listen to music?
- What do I hear most when I’m listen to a piece of music?
You will explore the core elements of music including melody, rhythm, harmony, form, and texture and how they work together to create different musical styles and genres ranging from ancient chant, classical, jazz, pop and rock. This workshop teaches you to listen to music actively and in depth by focusing on one element at a time. Bring your favorite music and discover a new perspective.
Psychology (Frontiers I & II)
Psychology is one of the most popular areas of scientific study, and for good reason! This program aims to teach you how to see the world as a Psychologist, and to highlight the most interesting, fun, useful, and mind-blowing facts in the psychological domain. We will explore the main topics in the field of Psychology, as guided by both scientific literature and your own interests. Through experiments, self-inquiry, lectures, and videos, you will come away from this class with an understanding of the major areas in psychology, and hopefully learn things that will help you be happier, healthier, and more interesting at parties.
Science of Art (Frontiers I & II)
Beginning with the Middle Ages, we will explore the impact of science and technology throughout art history. Topics include the engineering of the great Gothic cathedrals; the development of linear perspective; scientific illustration; photography, light, and optics; nature and the environment; robotics; the science behind Cubism and abstract art; the influence of invention, exploration, and scientific discovery on techniques and materials, and more. No previous art experience necessary.
STEM Teaching Workshop (Frontiers I & II)
This program provides an introduction to STEM teaching as a profession. You will be introduced to foundational concepts and current theories in education investigating alignment with your own beliefs and values about teaching and learning. We will explore teaching techniques in remote, hybrid, and in-person learning environments that enable all students to access STEM content including differentiated instruction, use of technology, and project/problem-based learning. As a culminating project, you will work in groups to design and present an engaging STEM activity using remote learning tools.