If you’re a high schooler keen on entering the world of robotics, you need to be applying to pre-college programs and internships that help you upskill yourself and navigate this dynamic, rapidly evolving field. Engaging in such programs enhances your college application and also helps you weigh your strengths for a career in robotics. Whether you're eyeing a top-tier university or aiming for a groundbreaking career, experiences like these set you apart. Today’s blog post is focused on one such experience, the University of Texas Austin's Summer Academy for Robotics.
What is the UT Summer Academy for Robotics?
The UT Summer Academy for Robotics, hosted by the University of Texas at Austin, is a six-day residential pre-college program for high schoolers interested in robotics and computer science. This program is designed to be an immersive experience that combines theoretical knowledge with practical, hands-on skills. You'll learn robot assembly, delve into topics like C++ programming, Arduino programming, and the design of robot sensors, culminating in a thrilling robot race. You will also get to explore UT Austin and attend college admissions workshops to help you draft a standout UT application.
The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Computer Science (UTCS), home to this academy, has consistently ranked among the top ten computer science departments in the country. With multiple courses across computer science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and an 87% employment rate of its graduates, it is the target college of many STEM students.
Who is eligible to apply?
The Summer Academy is designed to be an introductory program for any student interested in robotics. Thus, to be eligible, you only need to be entering 9th-12th grade in Fall 2024. All skill levels are welcome, UTCS only asks for an interest in robotics and computer science.
How does the application process work?
Currently, UTCS provides a simple registration form for you to fill to indicate your interest for the Summer Academy for Robotics 2024. There is no application per se. Do keep tabs on the page for the opening of registrations, which will be on January 31, 2024.
The cost of the program is $2100, which includes all educational and recreational activities, housing, meals, and instruction. There are limited academy scholarships available, the application for which will also open on January 31, 2024.
How is the Summer Academy for Robotics structured?
The UT Summer Academy for Robotics is designed to provide a holistic introduction to robotics. This includes the following topics:
Introductory Linux usage
Introductory C++ programming
Understanding robot sensors
Using motors on a robot
Turn & Push behavior
You'll be working in groups of 10 along with a supervisor to build and program the Bot’n Roll One A Robot and simulate robotics projects. You’ll also experiment with basic robotic controls and compete in a robot race against your peers! The program also includes guest lectures and academic development workshops to teach you more about future internship opportunities and UT admissions. There are also plenty of social activities and you will get to explore the UT campus and meet current UT students.
Is it prestigious?
The UT Summer Academy for Robotics is created to be an introductory program, and accordingly is not highly rigorous or selective, instead choosing to invite all comers and provide a beginner-friendly experience. With a 10:1 student-to-mentor ratio, the academy ensures personalized attention and quality education. While it is hosted by one of the best computer science departments in the country, the focus is not on academic rigor. Thus, we would not rate this as a prestigious program, but one to consider if you want to pursue a genuine interest in robotics and discover if it is the field for you.
6 reasons to apply for the UT Summer Academy for Robotics
You will get hands-on robotics experience: Despite its short length, you will still get to build and program robots and understand the technology and programming that goes into them.
You will receive expert instruction: UTCS has a strong faculty base of professionals with both academic and industrial experience in robotics, AI, machine learning and human-robot interaction. You will get to learn from this faculty as well as industry guest lecturers.
You will get university campus exposure: Since the program is residential, you’ll get to experience life on the UT Austin campus and even interact with existing students to understand whether it is the university for you.
There are good networking opportunities: Thanks to the good student-to-mentor ratio, you will have a much easier time connecting with professionals and supervisors, and of course your own peers. These networks may prove valuable once you actually pursue higher education in robotics.
You will understand robotics as a career: Through interactions with your professors, supervisors and guest speakers, you’ll get to understand what it’s like studying and working in the field of robotics. It’ll help you decide whether and how to approach your future education in the field.
You will gain insights into college admissions: The program involves admissions training workshops to teach you how to improve your profile for college admissions, and what makes a UT application stand out. This will be of great value regardless of which program you end up applying for.
In summary, the UT Summer Academy for Robotics is a solid stepping stone in the field of robotics, and should be on your radar if it’s a stream that appeals to you.
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you’re keen on pursuing in-depth research in STEM, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.
Image Source: UT Summer Academy for Robotics logo