Click on each cluster to learn information about the cluster, prerequisites, and faculty instructors.
Cluster 1 - Computers in Everyday Life
Karcher Morris, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD
Soohyun Nam Liao, Assistant Teaching Professor, Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, UCSD
Algebra II or Integrated Math II (The focus of this cluster is students with little or no prior programming experience)
Description:These days computers are everywhere, from our coffee makers and thermostats to our cell phones and televisions. They make our cars safer and more efficient; they perform advanced image processing in intelligent devices; they are the engines behind creating our movies, television shows, and our video games; and they fuel the Internet of Things. This course will focus on the basics of computing and coding, making it accessible to students who have no prior programming experience. It provides an introduction to computation through lectures, guest speakers, and projects. It starts by teaching the fundamentals of programming in Python, one of the most commonly used programming languages in the world, moves to C/C++ for working with Arduino to build embedded systems, and the cluster concludes with students creating a final project while working with teammates to refine, extend and apply the computing skills of their choosing.
Cluster 2 - Engineering Design and Control of Kinetic Sculptures
Raymond De Callafon, Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, UCSD
Algebra I and 8th-grade general science or equivalent
Open to students finishing their freshman or sophomore year prior to the summer. Algebra II or Integrated Math II, Trigonometry, Physics
Mechanical Engineering and Computer Control are brought together in many modern products that have moving parts, ranging from heavy automobiles to light-weight drones and robotic vacuum cleaners. In this cluster, students will analyze, design and build Kinetic (Moving) Sculptures operated under Automatic Control to get a comprehensive introduction to mixed disciplines in the field of engineering. Students design and analyse a pendulum clock during the first week to become familiar with Inventor, AutoCAD, running 2D dynamic simulations, and (remote) manufacturing capabilities of a LASERcamm and a 3D printer. In the following weeks, Mechanical Engineering methods will be used to analyse, design and build three dimensional kinetic sculptures where marbles move along ramps, bounce on trampolines and drop in baskets. The sculptures are augmented with sensors, motors and computer control to emphasize the mix of engineering skills needed to design a reliable and automatically controlled kinetic sculpture. The students attending this cluster will walk away with valuable engineering experiences that include the use of modern micro-processor controller to measure and analyze timing and mechanical behavior of their design and integrating engineering design and control principles throughout the curriculum of this cluster. Moreover, student will be able to (remotely) use the state of the art facilities at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department that include the MAE Design Studio, LASERcamm and 3D Printers for rapid prototyping along with advanced computer laboratories for creating computer drawings, running dynamic simulations and programming a microcontroller. Examples of prior year projects can be seen here.
Cluster 3 - Climate Change
Robert Pomeroy, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD
1 year of Chemistry
Climate Change is one of the most important and controversial issues facing our world. This cluster will break Climate Change into four parts. The first section will focus on the science of Green House Gases, GHGs, and their impact on the atmospheric energy balance. In the next section we will introduce the current research conducted at UC San Diego examining the role of aerosols on the energy balance and climate. These aerosols are influenced by the biology in the ocean and are subsequent chemical transformation in gas phase reactions which serve as the third section. The cluster will explore how global industrial human activity has impacted health, food security, and land utilization. We will also review how we might mitigate climate change through reduced utilization, alternate energy sources, carbon abatement and geoengineering.
Sample projects for this cluster include:
GHG Climate change simulations
The Direct and Indirect effect of atmospheric aerosols
The other carbon Problem: Ocean Acidification
Atmospheric VOCs and Secondary Organic Aerosols
Bending the Curve: How do we reach carbon neutrality?
Nuclear Energy and the Lithium Fluoride Thorium Reactor
Replacing Petroleum: Biofuels and Bioplastics
Cluster 4 - Structural Engineering: Building Better
Lelli Van Den Einde, Teaching Professor, Department of Structural Engineering, UCSD
Jacqui Le, Project Engineer, KPFF San Diego
Jessica Tuazon, Structural Plan Check Engineer, Interwest, SafeBUILT
Two years of Algebra or Integrated Math I & II (with Trigonometry component)
In Cluster 4, we like to build AND break things. We build small scale models of all types of structures (bridges, buildings, foundations, soils, underground pipes, aerospace structures, wind turbines, automobiles, human body, etc.) to see how we as engineers can put together different components to build strong structural systems. Every crack and every snap is exciting! We want to understand how and why it failed, discuss what it means, and consider different methods of improving the design to build it better! To further the understanding of building materials, the effects of natural forces such earthquakes, blasts and wind, and project planning and building, we will also do a number of hands-on laboratories. No matter what the structure is, we want to learn to build it better. We will introduce you to structural engineering and immerse you in the design and problem solving process. By the end of this cluster, students will be able to:
Describe the structural engineering major at UC San Diego and explain the role of a structural engineer.Design, build and test a structural component or system, analyze its performance, and evaluate and recommend a possible redesign from initial failures. Interpret structural engineering (SE) concepts such as mechanics and materials, and apply them to the structural design of a component or system. Demonstrate proficiency in the soft skills such as oral and written communication, teamwork, and engineering ethics required to succeed in a multidisciplinary engineering field.
Cluster 5 - Photonics: Light-based Technologies in Everyday Life
Charles Tu, Distinguished Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD
Saharnaz Baghdadchi, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD
Peter Ilinykh, Development Engineer, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD
1 year of Physics preferred
We seldom realize how much our everyday life uses photonics, or light-based technologies, such as in cell phone display, traffic light, DVD player, solar cells, microscopes, endoscopes, optical fiber transmission, etc. The progress of photonics is rapid, similar to Moore’s Law for electronics. One recent aspect of this progress is the integration of photonics with electronics to produce high-speed Silicon photonics integrated circuits. Other advances in photonics includes the integration of artificial intelligence with computational optics and the development of optically assisted diagnostics or therapeutic medical devices. While the economic driver for the 20th century was electronics, the economic driver for the 21st century is photonics.
In this Cluster, we shall study the generation, manipulation, transmission, detection, and applications of light. Students will first conduct experiments with LED, laser, prism, lens, and spectrometers to study wave properties of light, such as polarization, diffraction, and interference, and also particle properties of light, such as photoelectric effect/solar cell. They will then work on “workshop” projects, including plastic lens, solar cells, etc. Afterward, they will work on final projects of their choice as a team, and present the results to the Cluster and their families before the virtual closing ceremony.
Cluster 6 - Biodiesel from Renewable Sources
Robert S. Pomeroy, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD
Introductory high school chemistry – Basic knowledge of ionic and covalent bonding, electronegativity and intermolecular forces of attraction.
Students are encouraged to bring a laptop if possible, if not one will be provided.
This course will introduce students to renewable biofuels. This is a laboratory intensive experience where the students will extract and purify oil (lipids) from biomass, convert the oil into Fatty Acid Methyl Esters, FAMEs, also known as biodiesel, wash and purify the biodiesel, and then analyze the quality of the finished product. They will use advanced instrumentation such as FTIR, GCMS, Chromatography, and Bomb Calorimetry to determine the quality of their fuel.
Sustainable energy engages scientists, entrepreneurs and consumers searching for a renewable form of energy that will also not place the Earth's ecosystem at greater risk. Biofuels can be generated from biomass. This biomass can range from terrestrial, agricultural, forestry and municipal wastes, energy crops like soybeans, rapeseed, switchgrass and algae. Biodiesel has gained attention in recent years as a renewable fuel source due to its reduced greenhouse gas and particulate emissions, and it can be produced within 10 states in the US. For projects students will create higher value materials from plant lipids to produce renewable and sustainable bioplastics which economically serve as a bridge to large scale biofuels production.
Cluster 7 - H4O: Hacking for Oceans
Jack Silberman Ph.D., Ph.D., Lecturer Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI), UCSD
Open to students finishing their junior year prior to the summer. Desirable skills (nice to have but not required): Biology, robotics (e.g., FIRST, VEX, others) basic computer programming experience (Python and/or C/C++), hands-on engineering class, and/or physics. Most importantly, “don’t be afraid of showing that you don’t know something”, being willing to learn and not being afraid of making mistakes is key. Please mention these skills and your attitude on learning in your application.
Swim Waiver required.
This new exciting Cluster was inspired by the success of the Script Institute of Oceanography and UCSD’s Hacking for the Oceans graduate and undergraduate level class.
We will incorporate engineering theory and good practice in the development of affordable instrumentation and robotic devices by inventing and or adopting new technologies to monitor, generate and analyze data for our oceans on a scale.
The Cluster consists of lectures and incrementally more challenging projects. Students will work in groups to develop:
An Unmanned Water Autonomous Vehicle (UAV) including testing and documentation.
Select and integrate low power affordable. instrumentation for the UAV using microcontrollers.
Data collection, data visualization, computer applications (Apps) to be used with the instrumentation developed in the class.
Software to control a surface autonomous roboboat.
Adapt and Integrate the instrumentation developed above into the robo-boat.
Principles of autonomous robots, microcontrollers (Arduino compatible), Python, and data visualization and analysis tools will be introduced.
Cluster 8 - Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
* This cluster is First Choice only.
Robert Sah, Professor, Department of Bioengineering, UCSD, and Society of Professors, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Roberto Gaetani, Research Scientist, Department of Bioengineering, UCSD
Students must have completed Algebra II or Integrated Math II and one year of high school biology (Honors/AP Bio preferred if available)
Students are encouraged to bring a laptop if possible, if not one will be provided.
Tissue Engineering (TE) and Regenerative Medicine (RM) both seek to harness the power of biology and chemistry with the precision of engineering to restore, maintain, or improve tissue functions. TE seeks to do so through the application of engineering and life sciences to develop biological substitutes, whereas RM targets therapies to induce regeneration of cells, tissues, and organs. TE-RM are exciting and interdisciplinary fields involving engineers, biologists, chemists, material scientists, and doctors. TE-RM are increasingly providing alternative treatments for medical conditions where traditional treatments such as drugs, medical devices, or transplants have limitations. TE-RM products are rapidly evolving from potent molecules and materials to induce regeneration, to isolated cells to reconstitute damaged tissue, culture-expanded cells to repair damaged knees, modified cells to combat cancer, and formed tissues for drug screening, for engineered skin to treat wounds and burns, and for replacement tissues and organs.
Music and Technology
Cluster 9 - Music and Technology
Michelle Lou, Assistant Professor, Department of Music, UCSD
Joe Cantrell, Co-Instructor, Sound Artist & Musician
Basic computer programming experience recommended, but not required.
You do not have to be a musician to have fun and learn how science and engineering can be used to create, compose, transform and perform sound and music. In Cluster 9 you will learn about sound, music, and technology as we explore the many ways in which technology is used to synthesize and analyze sounds and create music. Please keep in mind that you do not need to be a musician or composer to enjoy Cluster 9, you only need a creative and curious mind and a fascination for sound and music.
In Cluster 9 you will learn the basic physical principles of how sound works, how we perceive it, and what makes it meaningful. We will also explore how different technologies have been used by music makers, artists, and scientists and what technologies and applications interest you. You will be able to build and use simple electronic sound hardware such as amplifiers, filters and effect generators in addition to developing software that can analyze, modify, create music and even improvise. You will have a number of technologies on hand to experiment with, including basic electronic components, sound controllers, and a Raspberry Pi single-board computer.
During the program students team up in small groups to develop a technical and/or creative project to be presented at the end of the program.
Cluster 10 - Robot Inventors
Algebra II or Integrated Math II
Programming experience is expected
Cluster 11 - Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles
Jack Silberman Ph.D., Lecturer Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI), UCSD
Open to students finishing their junior year prior to the summer. Desirable skills (nice to have but not required): robotics (e.g., FIRST, VEX, others) basic computer programming experience (Python and/or C/C++), hands-on engineering class, and/or physics. Most importantly, “don’t be afraid of showing that you don’t know something”, being willing to learn and not being afraid of making mistakes is key. Please mention these skills and your attitude on learning in your application.
Swim Waiver required.
In this Cluster we incorporate engineering theory and good practice in the development of scale autonomous cars. We start by using a realistic robotics simulator and an Artificial Intelligence framework (deep learning) on the student’s own computer (see minimal requirements). Then students will compete on-line using an external simulator against other students in the Cluster, and with parents permission, compete against competitors from around the world.
While students learn how to use the AI framework in the simulator, small teams will be designing and building a physical scale robocar; mechanical and electrical fast prototyping will be taught. Teams will be able to replicate what they have done in the simulator using their scale autonomous car using GPU Accelerate Artificial Intelligence models.
After the AI deep learning portion of the class, students continue to develop autonomy with their robots using traditional programming with
Python and OpenCV. Depending how fast the Cluster is moving, Robot Operating System 2 (ROS2) will be introduced and students will be given a chance to get an AI Certificate from NVIDIA.
The Cluster consists of lectures and incrementally more challenging projects: install and testing of a robotics simulator, computer vision development tools and libraries, an artificial neural network framework to enable deep learning, training an artificial intelligence model at UC San Diego’s Supercomputer Center, and building and testing the scale autonomous car.
Here are a few links that will give students an idea of what to expect from this exciting Cluster!
Cluster 12 - Machine Learning: Can We Teach a Computer to Think?
Curt Schurgers, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD
Niema Moshiri, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, UCSD
Algebra II or Integrated Math II. This cluster is for students who have limited prior programming experience (i.e., have taken no programming classes or at most a single one; experience with Python is not required).
Have you ever wondered how Alexa or Siri learned to converse with us, or how ever-improving autopilot systems in self-driving cars are developed? The answer is “machine learning,” an explosively-growing field in the last few years. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence and it allows us to train computers using the data we provide. For example if we provide a set of pictures of cats and things that are not cats, a machine learning algorithm can teach the computer to recognize cats. Therefore when the computer sees a new image later, it can tell whether it is a cat or not by itself. Machine learning has permeated our daily lives and is driving innovation in fields like medical diagnosis, face detection, recommendation systems for shopping sites, automatic language translation and climate study.
In this cluster, we will introduce you to the basics of machine learning, exploring applications from social science, engineering, habitat and animal conservation, and so on. The cluster will start with the basics of Python, the programming language we will use, and then will introduce some common machine learning packages. Lectures from the cluster faculty and guest speakers will help you grasp the basics of how different machine learning algorithms work. Projects throughout the curriculum will offer you more hands-on experience with various machine learning techniques. This cluster is designed for students who have limited exposure to programming, letting them further advance their programming skills while exploring the exciting world of machine learning. Students are highly encouraged to bring a PC laptop with them for this cluster. If students do not have a PC laptop available, one will be available to check out.
Cluster 13 - Video Game Programming and Game AI Design
Leo Porter, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, UCSD
Greg Miranda, Software Engineer, Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, UCSD
Algebra II or Integrated Math II. AP CS Principles or equivalent computer programming experience. Students should be comfortable with conditionals (if/else), loops (for/while), and arrays/lists.
Nearly every person on the planet who has access to technology has played a video game. The result is a video game industry that earns hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue annually. In this vibrant area of the economy, how do you design video games that are appealing to players? Moreover, how do you design the Artificial Intelligence (AI) of the agents in the game, whether those be the Non-Player Characters in the world or the AI that competes against the human player? In this cluster, students will learn how to answer these questions while designing video games in Unity (C#). Although the games they build may vary based on student interest, they will likely build games like the story-driven classic Legend of Zelda, Tower Defense games, and Real-Time Strategy games. Each week, the students will create a new game with the final project bringing together the overarching concepts from the cluster.
* These clusters are First Choice only.