In each two-week session, participants will participate in one Major Course and one Minor Course. When applying, rank the top three program courses from the following:
Aerospace Engineering (Frontiers I)
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. They will also be able to test their design in the wind tunnel, and see it soar in free-flight!
Biology, Biotechnology, & Bioinformatics (Frontiers I)
This program explores current topics in biology and biotechnology. Participants become part of a crowd sourcing initiative to develop new antibiotics, learn about the pollinator crisis and work with a computer simulation involving bee behavior, investigate how molecular biology and genetic barcoding can reveal environmental concerns. The roots of biotechnology are also covered in two fun exercises – fermenting root beer and making liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Biomedical Engineering (Frontiers I)
At the crossroads of engineering, biology, and medicine lies an exciting science making historic breakthroughs that are extending lives, re-enabling the disabled, and vastly improving the quality of life. This is biomedical engineering, and WPI is at the forefront of research that is leading to many of these breathtaking developments. In this program, participants will develop innovative solutions to real world problems. They will also build and test prototypes in this exciting field to begin addressing our Nation's medical needs.
Chemical Engineering (Frontiers I)
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.
Chemistry (Frontiers II)
Chemistry can be referred to as a “central science” because of its importance in biology, environmental science, geology, medicine, and the industrial processes that impact our everyday lives. Participants will explore world on a molecular level through activities and experiments using chemical reactions and analyses. You will see how chemistry is important for topics such as food and nutrition, polymers, spectroscopy, green chemistry, and the environment.
Chemistry & Biochemistry (Frontiers I)
Shrink down to the world of molecules and explore how life functions at one of its most fundamental levels. Combine the newest technologies in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry to explore what happens when molecules collide; peel apart proteins and DNA; discover how enzymes work; and use computer modeling to see what biomolecules look like in 3-D. Participants see how chemistry can make color, fire, light, and electricity; and use the latest genetic and biochemical techniques to create organisms that glow.
Civil & Environmental Engineering (Frontiers I)
The field of civil and environmental engineering is essential for improving the quality of life in society and protecting the environment. This discipline includes sustainable design and construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, tall buildings, water and waste-water treatment plants among others. Participants learn about different areas of civil and environmental engineering, and also complete hands-on projects involving laboratory testing of materials and structures, computer analysis and design of structures, water quality sampling and testing, and computer analysis to understand how human activities affect water quality in the environment.
Computer Modeling (Frontiers II)
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. We 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 is required.
Computer Science (Frontiers I)
In this self-paced program, participants have the opportunity to explore the world of programming as it is used in the World Wide Web and in object-oriented languages such as Java. They also explore graphical and distributed programming environments, while having the chance to incorporate their work as part of effective multimedia interfaces. In addition, special topics in computer science will be discussed according to participant interest.
Electrical & Computer Engineering (Frontiers I)
Discover the fascinating world of electrical and computer engineering through classroom exercises and laboratory hands-on activities. Participants first learn about basic electrical quantities (charge, current, voltage, etc...) and also how to solder an electronic kit which they can take home. They also learn to use lab equipment such as power supplies, multi-meters, function generators, and oscilloscopes to test circuits that they build. This knowledge is then applied to a design project that is worked on throughout the course. Topics include audio amplification, biomedical applications, analog signal processing, digital logic and programmable microcontrollers.
Engineering Exploration - Track I (Frontiers II)
Participants will explore engineering careers and learn about the various engineering disciplines such as architectural engineering, biomedical engineering, mathematical engineering, and industrial engineering through hands-on activities and projects. This Frontiers track will emphasize the role of engineers as creative problem solvers making a difference in society. Participants will also learn how best to prepare in high school to major in engineering in college.
- Architectural Engineering: The construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of buildings has global impact and consequence. Architectural engineers focus on the science and engineering aspects of building designs. Students will begin learning the fundamentals of engineering and its application to buildings.
- Biomedical Engineering: Biomedical engineers solve problems in healthcare and design solutions like prosthetics, implants, and robotic surgical tools. In this session, you will learn what it means to be a Biomedical Engineer and explore the engineering design process in the context of artificial heart valve implants. You will also get to biofabricate your own tissue engineering scaffold and dissect a pig heart.
- Mathematical Engineering: Ever wonder if math is useful in the real world? Wonder no more; math is everywhere. This course introduces the applications of mathematics in engineering. Students will learn about mathematical modeling of aircraft, cars, and rockets, and will construct these models using software tools and numerical methods. Examples of the powerful analytical and predictive capabilities of these models will be demonstrated.
Industrial Engineering: Industrial engineers design and improve complex processes and systems, by eliminating waste and implementing new approaches and technologies. In this session, you will complete a series of exercises to improve the performance of a company that makes clocks, by applying the principles of a method called Lean.
Engineering Exploration - Track II (Frontiers II)
Participants will explore engineering careers and learn about the various engineering disciplines such as aerospace engineering, electrical and computer engineering, fire protection engineering, and manufacturing engineering through hands-on activities and projects. This Frontiers track will emphasize the role of engineers as creative problem solvers making a difference in society. Participants will also learn how best to prepare in high school to major in engineering in college.
- Aerospace Engineering: This program introduces students to a career in aerospace engineering while exploring the science of flight. Wind tunnel demonstrations and hands-on design projects help students learn basics about aircraft design, and how wings and aircraft create lift to fly. Participants will design, build and test a simple gliding airplane using what they have learned.
- Fire Protection Engineering: Are you curious about the science of fire? This course will introduce participants to the field of fire protection engineering and the principles of fire behavior. Students will engage with faculty and staff through classroom lectures and hands-on fire experiments in the largest academic fire lab in the U.S!
- Manufacturing Engineering: Have you ever wondered how the gadgets you use are manufactured or how to create the inventions you have imagined? You will learn about advanced manufacturing equipment such as robotic automation systems and CNC machining.
Interactive Media & Game Development (Frontiers I)
Combine technology with art to create an interactive experience. Participants take on the role of programmer or artist, and work on a team to bring a game to life. They develop their own story, environment, characters and sound effects. Throughout the program, participants break down their ideas into simple rules, write algorithms, use powerful scripting languages, and play/test games with their team.
Introduction to Actuarial & Financial Mathematics (Frontiers II)
This workshop is designed to give participants an immersive experience in actuarial and financial mathematics topics. The program begins with an introduction to a fundamental actuarial topic, the theory of interest, and some key concepts in probability. Studying the theory of interest involves interest rates, the time value of money, annuities, loans, and mortgages. Then participants will learn about bonds and bond pricing, stocks and the stock market, and options and option pricing. Particular attention will be paid to the mathematical modeling of financial securities. Participants will hear from professionals in the field, as guest speakers share their experiences at various corporations.
Linear Algebra (Frontiers For Credit)
This course provides an introduction to the theory and techniques of matrix algebra and linear algebra. Topics covered include: operations on matrices, systems of linear equations, linear transformations, determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, least squares, vector spaces, inner products, introduction to numerical techniques, and applications of linear algebra. (Prerequisite: Honors Algebra II)
Manufacturing Engineering (Frontiers I)
Have you ever wondered how the gadgets you use are manufactured? Or how to create the inventions you have imagined? Come to WPI’s Manufacturing Laboratories through the Frontiers Manufacturing Engineering program to learn first-hand. You will learn the skills necessary to utilize our advanced manufacturing equipment such as robotic automation systems and CNC machining to realize your ideas and be ready for today’s job market.
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 will cover a new materials science topic with at least one edible activity to illustrate the concept.
Mathematics (Frontiers I)
Learn how a mix of classical mathematics and modern technology can be used to solve current problems and open up new areas. Participants 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, such as credit card numbers over the Internet, and storage and use of music in digital format (WAV vs. MP3 files, for example). Participants also learn how elementary matrix methods explain the popular Google search algorithm.
Mechanical Engineering (Frontiers I)
This broad discipline includes many areas of interest: energy production and transfer, mechanical design, materials science, biomechanics, and fluid flow, among others. Participants explore the extent of mechanical engineering through a mixture of fundamental concepts and experimentation. The 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.
Organic Chemistry (Frontiers For Credit)
A systematic survey of the major reaction types and functional groups in organic chemistry. The course will provide a representative collection of characteristic reactions and transformations of a variety of types of organic molecules. Most of the examples will be drawn from aliphatic chemistry. Some theoretical models will be introduced with a view toward establishing a general overview of the material. (Prerequisite: Honors Chemistry or AP Chemistry)
Physics (Frontiers I)
Participants investigate selected fields or applications of modern physics—such as interplanetary travel, atomic spectroscopy, quantum computing and black holes—through a combination of lectures, audio-visual presentations, hands-on laboratory experiments, and visits to research facilities.
Pre-Health/Pre-Med (Frontiers II)
Ever thought of becoming a doctor, nurse, psychologist, or other health professional? In the Pre-med and Health Professions track, high school students will be mentored by faculty as they explore the medical and healthcare fields through hands-on workshops, interacting with medical professionals, case studies, and labs. From experiences like learning to suture to doing a mock delivery, participants will experience the teamwork and skills required in medicine and be exposed to career paths from practicing professionals (i.e. Physicians, Medical Residents, Medical students, Genetic Counselors, and Physicians' Assistants). Participants will receive certification in basic life support and have advising opportunities with WPI's health professions advisor to help prepare for a career in healthcare. This will include practicing Multiple Mini interviews (MMIs) for the medical school admissions process too! At the end of the session, students will have the opportunity to show off their experiences in an e-portfolio. *This course requires an additional $100 fee since participants will be receiving CPR certification, a suture kit, artificial skin, and a medical book to keep.
Psychological Science (Frontiers II)
The psychological science course at WPI includes art, music, video and field trips to help participants understand the mind, the brain, human behavior, perception, and the senses. Psychology, engineering and technology work hand-in-hand in the complicated world in which we live. Participants will be involved in a research project, hands-on activities, dream education, and something we call personality archetypes. This is a fun and challenging course, and we know participants will come out all the wiser from this experience.
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. During the week each participant will spend time outside of the lab exploring important business aspects of robotics including marketing, entrepreneurship, management, and teamwork skills. 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.
American Social History (Frontiers I)
American Social History focuses on how some key events in American history affected ordinary Americans. Key historical events examined include the American Revolution, the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust. This course will also discuss different historical sources historians regularly employ to understand the full impact of American history on its people and the world.
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 an engineer or scientist for someone else, learn how to launch your own business! Be the shark, not the minnow! WPI’s world-renowned Foisie 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 faculty, students and alumni who are changing the business environment and making a positive impact on the world!
Character Costume Design & Fabrication (Frontiers I)
This class is for anyone who enjoys conjuring up their own characters to tell stories, but would also like the opportunity to make a costume piece to help bring that character to life. Participants learn to develop and sketch a character concept, then design and fabricate a theatrical piece to use or wear using various materials. We start with exercises to explore ideas and work towards what is possible to create in our own space and time.
Chorus (Frontiers II)
By singing in a choir, participants get a chance to explore musical activities. The choir will rehearse daily and perform a concert at the conclusion of the program. Music will be selected based on the members of the ensemble and will include a variety of genres, from folk to pop and classical.
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, storyboarding, and creating a shot list, conveying 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.
Creative Writing (Frontiers I & II)
Participants conduct a series of experiments with words, imagination, and ideas: fiction or nonfiction prose, poetry, or play script. What participants create depends on their group members, the Frontiers experience, and what they have been writing throughout the program.
Digital Painting (Frontiers I & II)
In this workshop, participants have the opportunity to learn the art of digital imaging using state of the art software and computer technology. Techniques covered include photo manipulation, digital painting and illustration.
Elements of Writing: The Application Essay (Frontiers II)
Investigate what happens when writers choose vocabulary, sentence structure, and vivid imagery to target a specific audience. Our approach will help participants improve the general writing skills needed for college. But participants will practice those skills more narrowly by creating a draft of their college application essay. All participants are encouraged to bring topics that appear on admission forms for colleges where they intend to apply.
Financial Literacy (Frontiers I)
Do you plan to be wealthy? This course will help students understand financial concepts and how to apply them. The course begins by answering questions like:
- Why should I want to learn financial literacy?
- What are some typical incomes for various occupations?
- How do people become wealthy?
The course then moves into forecasting by creating a life-long financial plan on a spreadsheet. Students will do this during in-class workshops with coaching. Each student will learn how to use a spreadsheet program to build their own financial forecast model. The model will help them formulate their own plan to become wealthy.
History of Technology (Frontiers I & II)
Many people assume that technological change is the major factor in historical change and that it drives historical progress. This class turns these assumptions into two questions: Does technology exist “outside” society and drive social, cultural and political change? Answers and alternative formulations are sought in the careful study of select revolutionary technologies including but not limited to the printing press, the clock, the steam engine, machine gun, electricity, assembly line, the computer and internet.
Global Topics in Energy and Environment (Frontiers I & II)
Explore 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.
Introduction to Science Fiction (Frontiers I)
This course examines several central themes, movements, and texts in English-language science fiction. Students will learn to interpret challenging literary works, study how cultural context may prompt and shape works of science fiction, and sharpen their analytical, creative, and argumentative skills.
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. Previous instrumental experience is required.
Psychology (Frontiers I & II)
Psychological science is the experimental study of human thought and behavior in order to understand why people do what they do. The goal of this Frontiers experience is to provide insight into psychological science and also its application to the real world, other sciences, and engineering. To do so, this course offers a broad introduction to different topics in psychological science, such as the brain, development, sensations and perceptions, thinking, learning, memory, psychological disorders, and social environment. Participants in this course learn about these different topics, while conducting research projects with the help of hands-on activities.
Reading & Writing Ghost Stories (Frontiers I)
Unbridled, boundary-bending, and binary-busting, ghost stories make space for lived experiences outside the mainstream. In this course, we will study how ghost stories written in English have changed over time, adapting to shifting cultural contexts, attitudes, and beliefs. At the end of the course, we will try our hand at writing our own ghost stories, based on what we have learned about the genre.
Science of Art (Frontiers I & II)
Beginning with the Middle Ages, this course will explore the impact of science and technology throughout art history. Topics to be considered 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.
Theatre (Frontiers II)
Produce a show from soup to nuts in less than two weeks. Set the stage, play the role, dress the part, hang the lights, record the sound, and more. Explore a wide variety of theatrical exercises and techniques, including warm-ups, expressive movement exercises, collective improvisation, and interpretive reading. Put theory into practice by making an audience laugh, cry, and maybe even think. On stage or back stage, there is a role for all.
Transmedia Storytelling (Frontiers I)
The range of communication platforms that are readily available has expanded considerably in the last decade to include podcasts, videocasts and documentaries, and augmented and virtual reality experiences. The ability to use these approaches - and to know how and when to utilize different tools to achieve impactful outcomes in project work - is increasingly valuable in academic, government, business and other professional fields. This course introduces students to transmedia storytelling - the creation of different experiences of a story using different types of storytelling modalities. The course will address video and audio recording, storyboarding, positionality and engagement with subjects, post processing and editing, and include demos with AR/VR tools.