Frontiers Course Offerings

Program Offerings (in-person)

Our Frontiers majors and minors are taught in-person 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 include lectures, project work, and labs. 

Audience: ​Students Entering Grades 10, 11 & 12
Frontiers I Session: July 9 - July 21, 2023
Frontiers II Session: July 23 - August 4, 2023

Summer 2023 Frontiers Majors

Advanced Modern Physics (Frontiers II)

The advent of the twenty-first century introduced two extreme worlds of physics: the physics of miniscule particles – electrons – and the physics of supergiants – black holes. Both worlds are extremely fascinating and have been very impactful in our lives. The world of small, i.e., the atomic and subatomic particles, is addressed by quantum physics whereas to understand the marvel of the world of giants and supergiants, i.e., neutron stars and black holes, we need relativistic physics.

In this fun, two-week long course, we will go over various topics on quantum physics including lasers, quantum computing, quantum teleportation, and quantum information as well as topics on the birth, evolution and death of stars, Hawking radiation, and the models of the Universe. Each topic will start with very basic concepts, and they will be explained with the help of relevant demonstrations, multimedia, and mathematical tools. The students will also get an opportunity to visit WPI physics research labs.

Aerospace Engineering (Frontiers I & II)

By covering basic concepts in aerodynamics, the Aerospace Engineering program explores the science of flight. Topics such as drag, streamlining, airfoil stall and aircraft design will be studied. Participants learn how wings and aircraft create lift to fly. Wind- and water-tunnel experiments are conducted to visualize the airflow over aircraft, and computer simulations are run for different airfoil shapes. Participants will design and build a simple model aircraft using what they have learned.

Biology & Biotechnology (Frontiers I)

This program explores current topics in biology and biotechnology. Participants become part of a crowd sourcing initiative through field work and data analysis to learn about the pollinator crisis and work with a computer simulation involving bee behavior. We will explore how bioinformatics tools and techniques are used to interpret genomic structure of viruses, including COVID-19.  The roots of biotechnology will also be covered in an exercise fermenting root beer.

Biomedical Engineering (Frontiers I & II)

At the crossroads of engineering, biology, and medicine lies an exciting scientific field making historic breakthroughs that are extending lives and vastly improving the quality of life. This field is biomedical engineering, and WPI is at the forefront of research that is leading to many of these breathtaking developments. This program will enable the students to start looking at the world with the eyes of a biomedical engineer and open doors for amazing possibilities in this field as they pursue new directions. 

  • Session I: Biomedical Engineering- Bio-instrumentation and Signal Processing. In this program, the participants will perform hands-on lab activities to understand and learn the fundamentals of biomedical engineering and its sub-branches including bio-instrumentation, biomedical signal measurement, and biomedical signal and data processing. The participants will specifically learn how biomedical devices are playing a part in improving the lives of the people and improving the society. 
  • Session II: Biomedical Engineering- Biomaterials. In this program, the participants will perform hands-on lab activities to understand and learn fundamentals of biomedical engineering as they relate to biomaterials and tissue engineering. Participants will learn how biomaterials are designed and used in medical implants, tissue regeneration, drug delivery, and mimic diseases, and the hands-on activities will cover a subset of these areas. The ways in which biomaterials help improve human quality of life are diverse and combine many different science and engineering fields. 
Chemical Engineering (Frontiers II)

This course provides an introduction to the broad and vital discipline of chemical engineering including conventional and developing chemical technologies. An introduction is provided to the first principles of chemical engineering, as well as environmental, health, safety and ethical issues in chemical engineering practice. An overview is provided of the chemical engineering profession, career choices, the course of study, and a survey of the chemical industry, e.g., polymer, pharmaceutical, food processing, microelectronic, electrochemical, biotechnology, process control, energy, and petroleum refining. Course activities include pilot scale unit operation lab.

Civil, Environmental, and 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 Science: Possibilities in Programming (Frontiers I & II)

In this self-paced program, you will explore the world of programming as it is used in internet applications and object-oriented languages. You will also explore graphical and distributed programming environments, while having the chance to incorporate your work as part of effective multimedia interfaces. Have a special programming interest? Professors and teaching assistants want to lead discussions and activity designed to align with your individual interests. Topics/languages covered include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, networking, server-side apps, MySQL database, and Php. No previous programming experience needed.

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 I & II)

Artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision have been changing our everyday life such as smart phone and autonomous robots. This course will introduce basic concepts and technologies in AI and computer vision, including object recognition and detection that have been used in many applications and equipments such as Tesla cars, through labs and experiments. Topics include: some basics in AI and computer vision, algorithms, and hand-on coding.

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 I)

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.

Mechanical Engineering (Frontiers I)

In this course you will explore basic concepts, such as engineering mechanics, mechanical design, vehicle and tire dynamics, autonomous control and other fundamental applied sciences related to Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.  Engage in hands-on exercises where you will have opportunity to apply the foundational concepts in laboratory exercises. Simulate the vehicle motion and develop a controller for vehicle’s speed and investigate the exciting world of sensors & microcontrollers all while using some of the best tools to design machines.

Neuroscience: Unpacking the Mysteries of the Brain (Frontiers I)

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 also utilize a popular model C. elegans to allow you to investigate your own research questions. We will explore the processes crucial to how the brain works and what happens to these processes in both health and various disease states. 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, and how human eyes work - What do these things have in common? Physics! They are all principles of optics and modern physics. Investigate selected fields and applications of optics and modern physics - such as interplanetary travel (how NASA sends probs to Mars), atomic spectroscopy, cathode ray tube, black holes, and how human eyes work. This program incorporates a combination of lectures, audio-visual presentations, technical hands-on activities, visits to WPI research facilities and an introduction to programming (Visual Python). All students (no matter their prior programming knowledge) will be able to create and present their own project (simulation in Visual Python) at the end of the course. Will your knowledge take you to the next dimension? 

Robotics Engineering (Frontiers II)

Participants immerse themselves in robotics engineering and discover the science and technology behind robot design and operations. They will learn about force, torque, and stress analysis, material properties, processing, and selection, power requirements, micro controllers, sensor operations, programming, pneumatics, and use this information to solve a challenging robotics problem. Each subgroup in the session will brainstorm, design, build, and test its own creation. The robots meet for an end-of-session tournament so all subgroups can present their creations. This session is particularly useful in preparing participants for entry or leadership within their high school's robotics team.

Summer 2023 Frontiers Minors

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!

Cinematic Storytelling (Frontiers I & II)

The course explores the dramatic principles of storytelling, how to translate story ideas into screenplay format, and how the screenplay is used as a basis for shooting a film. The class will examine the processes of story development, including how to solve story problems, how to improve narrative elements and story progression, and how to convey the important ideas through cinematic images and compelling dialogue. We will watch short films and scenes from feature films to demonstrate how story concepts get converted into images and sound. The class will then develop a short story idea together, following dramatic principles and using an underlying theme as a guide, with the goal of creating a screenplay for a short film.

Digital Imaging and Computer Arts (Frontiers I & II)

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.

Exploring the World’s most Pressing Problems with Gompei (Frontiers II)

Climate change, water, energy, and pollution are some of the greatest challenges your generation will face. In this class we will look at how these problems emerge and are addressed by WPI students working around the world and at home. Focusing the importance of cultural context and location, students will leave the class with a better understanding of why culture matters and how understanding the importance of place is vital to successfully addressing the world’s most pressing problems.

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!

Music (Frontiers I)

This program consists of daily music activities and rehearsals in the appropriate instrumental ensembles. At the conclusion of the program, participants perform in a concert with music varying in style from jazz to pop to classical. High School level instrumental experience is required.

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 fun and astonishing facts about the mind, brain, and behavior—and everything in between! Through experiments, self-inquiry, lectures, and videos, you will come away from this class with an enriched understanding of what makes us tick as human beings, and hopefully learn things that will help you lead healthier and happier lives. 

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 II)

This course provides an introduction to STEM teaching as a profession.  Participants will be introduced to foundational concepts and current theories in education investigating alignment with their own beliefs and values about teaching and learning.  We will explore teaching techniques that enable all students to access STEM content including differentiated instruction, use of technology, and project/problem-based learning.  As a culminating project, participants will work in groups to design and present an original hands-on STEM activity to their peers.

Uncovering the Roots of Middle Earth: The Sources and Inspiration of the Lord of the Rings (Frontiers II)

Nearly a century ago, JRR Tolkien synthesized history, legend, language, and personal experience to create a modern mythology that remains a source of interest today. This course unpacks the sources at the heart of The Lord of the Rings. We'll engage with tales of medieval warfare, depictions of monsters, and accounts of courtly love, while also giving attention to the contemporary specters that impelled Tolkien to write: his experience of World War I and the bleak fate of nature in an industrialized world.

WPI reserves the right to cancel any major/minor, in which case students could be reassigned to a different session or provided a refund.