Academy Descriptions

Summer Engineering Academies Logo

*COVID 19 UPDATE*
Due to the cancellation of our in-person camps, the only camps we are offering through virtual delivery in 2020 are 3D Modeling, Advanced Coding, Arduino Robotics, Creative Coding, and Videography. For Arduino Robotics, participants must live within the Anchorage area or be willing to drive to Anchorage to pick up their robot.

To participate in the virtual summer camps, there are two main requirements and one main recommendation for at-home technology.

The following are required:

  • A computerPC, Mac, Chromebook, and most any computer that can run an up-to-date version of the Google Chrome internet browser are all acceptible. Tablets and smartphones are not a suitable substitute. 
  • An internet connection

The following is recommended:

  • A standard, three-button mouse—It is generally more difficult to navigate engineering software using a laptop's trackpad.

Academies differ from year to year depending on faculty or instructor availability. Below are the descriptions of all academies that have been offered in recent years. 

  • 3D Modeling (Grades 6-8)

    In this online-only camp, participants will learn the basics of 3D modeling using a free software called Tinkercad. Participants will complete activities and challenges to design increasingly complex and unique objects. The ability to use 3D modeling to create and visualizeproduction prototypes or engineering projects is a crucial skill for future engineers. Plus, as commerical 3D printers become more commonplace and affordable, participants could design objects that they could potentially print at home.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn the fundamental engineering skill of 3D modeling
    • Design specific objects in Tinkercad
    • Develop the ability to design their own creations
  • 3D Printed Robotics: 3D Printing (Grades 7-9)

    Participants will learn the fundamentals of robotics and 3-D printing by using basic 3-D modeling software to design and build a robot chassis and attachments, such as arms. Robots will be designed to accommodate servos and DC motors, batteries, and a micro-controller. Basic coding will be provided to control early prototype versions of the robot. Later in the week, participants will join forces with the "Coding" session to create and program a 3-D printed robot to accomplish assigned tasks. 

    To summarize, students will:

    • Design, print, and assemble a 3-D printed robot chassis
    • Learn 3D modeling software and how to use it to create 3-D printed objects
    • Design a robot that can accomplish tasks such as navigate a maze or lift balls
    • Develop technical and team-based skills
  • 3D Printed Robotics: Coding (Grades 7-9)

    Students are expected to have some experience in robotics and/or programming for this session. At the start of the week, participants will be provided with a basic robot chassis, which they will learn to program to accomplish simple tasks, such as moving along desired paths, avoiding obstacles, and navigating a maze. Robotics will consist of an Arduino Micro-controller, servo and DC motors, battery, and various other electrical components. The programming will be conducted in Arduino. Later in the week, participants will join forces with the "3-D Printing" session to create and program a 3-D printed robot to accomplish assigned tasks. 

    To summarize, students will:

    • Program an Arduino-based robot
    • Learn Arduino programming and how to use it to control robots
    • Program the robot to avoid obstacles and navigate a maze 
    • Develop technical and team-based skills
  • Advanced Coding (Grades 9-12)

    Students will design and develop their own games in OpenProcessing, a free online coding software that uses the coding languages p5js and javascript. The session will begin with an introduction to object-oriented programming (variables, decision making, loops, arrays, methods, classes), and then delve into navigating scenes with 3D objects, handling physics with collision detection, and implementing game logic. Students should have some prior exposure to programming. Students will demonstrate their projects at the end of the session, and judges will award prizes to the top projects.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn object-oriented programming concepts
    • Learn how to manipulate scenes and 3D objects
    • Work in teams to design and develop a game 
  • Alternative Energy (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn how energy is consumed and current methods of producing it.  The focus will be on renewable energy and the challenges associated with moving to a renewable-based energy economy.  Throughout the week students will simulate energy demand for generation sources, assemble and test an electrical load bank, and learn to make power measurements.

    Variable energy sources will be discussed including solar, wind, and hydro.  Students will construct a small photovoltaic array as well as a small wind turbine.  Energy storage will be introduced in the form of a bank of rechargeable batteries.  Students will work in small groups to create a mini-power grid using the different sources and demands.  The groups will compete to determine which mini-grid is most efficient.

  • Arduino Robotics (Grades 9-12)

    Students are expected to have some experience in robotics and/or prior programming experience for this session. Participants will utilize basic 3D modeling software to design and build a robot chassis, and then learn to program the robot to accomplish simple tasks. Robotics will consist of an Acrylic base with an Arduino Micro-controller, servo and DC motors, battery, and various other electrical components. Once assembled, the robots will be programmed to move along desired paths, avoid obstacles, and navigate a maze.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Build and program an Arduino-based robot
    • Learn Arduino programming and how to use it to control robots
    • Program the robot to avoid obstacles and navigate a maze 
  • Busting Bridges (Grades 7-9)

    Students will learn about structural engineering through bridges. Each day will include instruction and discussion of the internal forces inherent in different materials, like wood, plastic, and metal, followed by 3D computer modeling, and hands-on construction of structural prototypes. The prototypes will be subjected to destructive testing to determine their strength. Over the course of the week, students will design, analyze, and build a bridge using basswood, which will be tested for strength and material efficiency. The class will then construct a “full-scale” bridge based upon the strongest student design, which will be tested to destruction in the Structures Testing Lab.  

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn how bridges work
    • Use 3D computer analysis to design structures
    • Construct and destroy basswood structures
    • Construct and destroy a “full-scale” bridge
  • Creative Coding (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn how to write computer programs to manipulate graphics and sound, and how to create a computer game.  For example, students will learn how to draw graphics, animate images, play sound, and then use these skills to design and write their own game or digital media project. They will use the Scratch programming language developed at MIT, which is a graphical language that can be accessed through a web browser. Students will learn about variables, objects, events, decision-making, and repetition to develop a variety of games, ranging from platformers to shooters. These concepts will prepare students for other coding activities, such as programming robots, Arduinos, or websites. Students will demonstrate their projects to the class at the end of the session, and judges will award prizes to the top projects.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn fundamental programming concepts in Scratch programming language
    • Apply programming concepts to manipulate digital media
    • Create a game or digital media project 
  • LEGO Robotics (Grades 5-8)

    Similar to the other robotics sessions, students will design, build, and program a robot to complete a task. This session will use LEGO MINDSTORM® equipment to construct a robot. In small groups, students will assemble a robot to operate autonomously and compete to complete assigned tasks. This session is not designed for students with extensive previous experience in FIRST LEGO League robotics.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Build LEGO-based robotic mechanisms to manipulate objects
    • Design and construct a robot to solve a problem
    • Program a robot to perform tasks and compete in challenges without human control
  • LEGO Robotics for Ladies (Grades 6-8)

    Some research suggests that many girls thrive in an all-girl setting centered around cooperative learning and hands-on experiences, so we’re going to do just that.  This is the same session as “LEGO Robotics”, except it is only open to young ladies.  Like the co-ed version, this session is not designed for participants with extensive previous experience in FIRST LEGO League robotics.

  • LEGO Robotics Junior (Grades 3-4)

    Can't wait any longer? Start your UAA experience even earlier with an elementary version of our popular robotics program. This session for our youngest participants provides a week-long experience with the LEGO WeDo system. The "Juniors" will get hands-on experience building machines and learning basic programming, while enjoying a setting of fun games and making new friends!

  • Rust & Rot: Corrosion Chemistry (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn about the fundamentals of corrosion chemistry and engage in the prevention of corrosion through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Over the course of the week, students will build on the concepts of corrosion and how to convert them to simple experiments resulting in a comprehensive understanding of corrosion at the middle/high school level. Experiments will be geared towards investigating corrosion under different environments which includes humidity, presence of salts, amount of oxygen, pH, wetness, etc.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn fundamental corrosion chemistry concepts
    • Devise simple laboratory corrosion experiments
    • Relate the results to the learned fundamentals
  • Shaking Buildings (Grades 8-12)

    This session is a variation of Structure Destruction. Students will learn about buildings and towers, and how they work. Each day will include instruction and discussion of the internal forces in various materials, such as wood, plastic, and metal, followed by 3D computer modeling, and hands-on construction of small buildings. The buildings will be "pushed" on to determine their stiffness, and mounted to a "shake table" to simulate an earthquake. Over the course of the week, students will design, analyze, and build a structure using balsa and basswood, to be tested for resistance to wind and seismic loads.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn how buildings work
    • Use 3D computer analysis to design structures
    • Complete hands-on construction of basswood structures
    • Apply wind and earthquake forces in a competition to find the best structure  
  • Structure Destruction (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn about bridges, buildings, towers and how they work.  Each day will include instruction and discussion of the internal forces inherent in different materials, like wood, plastic, and metal, followed by 3D computer modeling, and hands-on construction of structural prototypes.  The prototypes will be subjected to destructive testing to determine their strength.  Students will learn about joint connections and adhesive materials such as epoxy and glue.  Over the course of the week, students will design, analyze, and build a bridge using basswood, which will be tested for strength and material efficiency.  

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn how bridges work
    • Use 3D computer analysis to design structures
    • Complete hands-on construction of basswood structures
    • Destroy their creation in a competition for the strongest structure

     

  • Tetrix Robotics (Grades 7-12)

    In this introduction to robotics, students will use FIRST-based TETRIX® robotics kits to design, build, and program a robot to complete a task.  Topics will include mechanical design, motors and actuators, how to manipulate objects, and programming to make their robot more self-aware. In small groups, students will assemble a robot to compete in user-piloted challenges such as obstacle courses, as well as programming the robot to operate autonomously.  (This session is not designed for students with extensive previous experience in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics.)

    To summarize, students will:

    • Build TETRIX-based robotics mechanisms to manipulate objects
    • Design and construct a robot to solve a problem
    • Remotely control a robot to perform tasks and compete in challenges
    • Program a robot to perform tasks and compete in challenges without human control
  • Videography (Grades 6-8)

    In this online only camp, participants will learn the basics of videography and video editing using free online software and whatever video-capturing technology they have at home, including smartphones. Participants will develop an understanding of videographic principles and become more "fluent" in the language of movies. To encourage interest in STEM topics, the content of participant videos will relate to engineering concepts.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn about science and engineering through moviemaking
    • Gain an understanding of videographic principles
    • Create, edit, and share short movies
  • Water Works (Grades 6-8)

    Do you know how important water is for our daily lives? Students will learn all about the properties and behaviors of water and how to move, store and get energy from water. The different ways humans interact with water and how engineers control it will be explored. Participants will construct and test methods for cleaning water, moving water, and using it to generate electricity.

    Projects include:

    • Learning how water can be stored and transported from location to location and through pipes, filters and canals
    • Designing and constructing a dam, an aquifer, and a pipe network
  • Wing Aerodynamics (Grades 6-8)

    Participants will gain experience in fundamental aerodynamics and state-of-the-art design and prototyping of aircraft wings. Students will generate an airfoil using digital tools, and complete their aircraft design using computer modeling software (SolidWorks).  They will fabricate a scaled aircraft prototype.  They will experimentally test their model in a wind tunnel under various flow conditions.  Flow will be visualized using laser-induced florescence, and the lift and drag forces on the airfoil will be measured.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn about theories of aerodynamics
    • Design and create an aircraft prototype
    • Test their aircraft prototype in a wind tunnel to determine its performance