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. This summer's course offerings are located below along with descriptions. Course work will include lectures, project work, and labs. 

Audience: Rising 10, 11, and 12th graders
Application Now Open!
Frontiers Session I: July 7 - 19, 2024
Frontiers Session II: July 21 - August 2, 2024

Summer 2024 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.

Architectural Engineering (Frontiers II)

In this self-paced program, you will explore the intriguing realms of interactive and parametric architecture while delving into the rich history of architectural design. You will discover the importance of well-designed spaces, which provide shelter and promote our health and emotional well-being.

Home is more than just a place to live; it connects us on deep emotional and personal levels. In this design studio, we will help you craft a concept for your future tiny house by blending interactive and parametric architectural principles. You will gain a deep understanding of architectural design facets, including function, aesthetics, landscape integration, and sustainability while exploring the latest possibilities of interactive design.

We will uncover the power of a parametric modeling tool and Sketchup, a remarkable yet user-friendly modeling tool that will bring your visionary concepts to life. Additionally, we will explore the art of creating captivating building geometries and expressing our design philosophies through dynamic and interactive schematic models.

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.

In this program, 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 play a part in improving the lives of people and improving society.

Chemical Engineering (Frontiers I & II)

This course introduces 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 will engage you in a three-story pilot plant facility where you will be operating chemical engineering equipment, collecting data and performing various calculations. As this is a lab-intensive course, safety measures are very important, and you should prepare accordingly. 

Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (Frontiers I)

In the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Frontiers program you will learn firsthand from our professors how to be a practicing architect interacting with a client, what we can do to prepare our built world for climate change, how structural engineers ensure that buildings and bridges are strong, and methods that environmental engineers use to ensure our treatment systems provide clean water. Each day in the program will be hands-on, interactive, and high energy. You will be in several laboratories on campus, work in teams to solve problems, and get creative with solutions. This is how civil, environmental and architectural engineers work day-to-day in one of the oldest and most diverse disciplines, focused on designing and constructing the infrastructure that supports daily life. We coordinate projects, manage people, and are essential for improving the quality of life in society and protecting the environment. We are excited to teach you how to do these things too!

Computer Science: Programming Horizons (Frontiers I & II)

Dive into a two-week, self-paced adventure in programming, focusing on its application in internet technologies. This course is designed to introduce you to the diverse aspects of web development, from creating basic web pages to understanding the intricacies of network communication. You'll get hands-on experience with graphical and distributed programming, and learn how to integrate your projects into compelling multimedia interfaces. Whether you have specific programming interests or are just beginning, our professor and teaching assistant are dedicated to guiding discussions and activities that cater to your unique learning objectives. The course covers an array of essential topics such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, networking basics, and server-side applications. This program welcomes all learners, regardless of their prior experience in programming.

Data Science: Extracting Knowledge & Insights (Frontiers II)

Move beyond pie charts 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.

*Participants in this course are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop from home!

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 a 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 will break down 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 an opportunity to apply the foundational concepts in laboratory exercises. Simulate 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 using VEX software. 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.

Using ChatGPT API and Python Programming for Conversational AI (Frontiers I)

Are you interested in mastering how to harness the power of ChatGPT API and Python programming to build conversational AI applications? In this course, you will discover how to integrate ChatGPT's language model with Python's versatility to create intelligent and engaging chatbots, content generators, and more. From signing up for a ChatGPT API key to parsing responses and integrating generated text, you will gain hands-on experience in developing conversational AI applications. Take your AI development skills to the next level and unlock the potential of conversational AI applications with this comprehensive course. 

*Basic-level Python programming is required, including functional, object-oriented, and event-driven programming paradigm. Immediate- or Advanced-level Python programming is highly preferred, if applicable.

Summer 2024 Frontiers Minors

AI and its Business Applications (Frontiers I)

Ever wondered how artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the business landscape? In this short course, we will dive into the exciting world of AI, explore the dynamic relationship between AI and big data, review how businesses generate vast amounts of data, and learn how AI can be strategically applied in the corporate realm. We will also gain hands-on experience as we dive into machine learning and introduce you to AutoML tools. Get ready for an exhilarating exploration of AI and its dynamic impact on the business world!

Business: Entrepreneurship (Frontiers I & II)

Opportunities to lead entrepreneurially can take different forms - start from nothing and build a startup, join an established enterprise, innovate from within, inherit an existing business, or drive change through social enterprise. Whatever your goal, this session will help you recognize “the entrepreneur in you” and experience opportunity identification, ideation, and problem solving. The style of the course is participatory, and team based. Through firsthand activities, lectures, class discussions, teams, large group guest presentations, and final pitch contest, students will gain awareness of the value of innovation and entrepreneurship in solving problems that matter by adopting a sustainability mindset. 

Cinematic Storytelling (Frontiers I & II)

This 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, designing vector, pixel arts, and basic animation using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects. 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 help 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 you intend to apply.

Global Topics in Energy & the Environment (Frontiers II)

This course engages with global challenges related to dependence on petroleum and other fossil fuels, the environmental implications of their use, and ongoing efforts around the world to pursue demand efficiency and alternative sources of energy supply.

History of Jazz (Frontiers II)

The History of Jazz will cover its African roots and 19th-century precursors to where and how the art form exists today in the first quarter of the 21st century. Topics discussed will include a survey of major artists, groups, and periods, including African American folk forms, Ragtime, New Orleans, the Swing Era, Latin Jazz, Bebop, and Fusion. Issues of gender and diversity will also be discussed. Jazz emanating as America's music will be a major component of the course. In class, we will listen to/view various artists to build an understanding of form and structure in this art form.

Music (Frontiers I)

This program consists of daily music activities and rehearsals in 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. WPI has some instruments and equipment which may be available for Frontiers students to use. Questions about equipment should be sent to following acceptance to the program.

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 interaction of science and technology with art throughout history. Topics include the engineering of the great Gothic cathedrals; the development of linear perspective; scientific illustration; photography, light, and optics; 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 is necessary.

STEM Teaching Workshop (Frontiers I & 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.