Program Overview

SHAPE offers two 3-week sessions: June 24 - July 12, 2019 (Monday - Friday) & July 15 - August 2, 2019 (Monday - Friday).

Students will choose a subject and participate in one of these introductory college-level engineering courses. The program also features research skills or entrepreneurship electives, college preparation workshops, labs utilizing the Maker or Mech-Tech Space, support from Columbia students, and access to the dining hall, library, and health services.


Presented in conjunction with Columbia University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, this course is a hands-on introduction to robotics comprised of both theoretical and lab components. 

The objective of the course is to design and fabricate a toy robot capable of executing a posed task within a pre-determined maze.  Through the design for manufacture process, the students will acquire understanding of fundamental concepts such as engineering design and mechanical design. Further, students will learn principles of solid modeling, sensor technology and locomotion.

The prototype of the robot is supposed to be made from the available kit, manufactured parts (3D printer and laser cutter may be used for this purpose) as well as any scrap material found in Mechanical Engineering machine shop or around campus. Students will be divided into groups of four, and each team is responsible for conceiving and executing an original design. The design will be presented in a series of concept sketches and CAD drawings, with the final design being ‘prototyped’.  The class will culminate in a competition among the fabricated prototypes.

Students will pick one course per session; availability each session depends on interest and students may only take each course once.

The course is a general introduction to computer science. It consists of a theoretical part, and practical hands-on experience. The course assumes no prior programming background. 

In the theoretical part, students will learn about the fundamental concepts of computer science, and algorithmic problem-solving. 

The practical part includes an introduction to Python programming and specifically covers the following topics:

  • Variables, control (if statement, loops)
  • Basic data types and data structures: integers, booleans, floats, strings, lists, tuples, sets, dictionaries.
  • Files (text, binary), input, output. 
  • Functions, procedures, calls, parameters, arguments, return values, recursion. 
  • Object oriented programming: classes, instances, objects, attributes, methods, instance variables, encapsulation. 
  • Graphical user interfaces (GUI).

The course will start with  the basics and initiate students to programming through practice examples and exercises both in class and in the lab. Once students are comfortable with programming, they will start working on a fun project that will leverage all the topics learned in class. Students will work on their projects in groups of two or three. 

At the end of the course, students will know how to think like a computer scientist, develop computational solutions to problems, and craft and implement applications in Python from scratch.

Students will pick one course per session; availability each session depends on interest and students may only take each course once.

A hands-on exploration of solar energy systems for students interested in electrical, mechanical, chemical, and earth-and-environmental engineering. Students learn the basics of electricity and the use of electronics test instruments, then conduct experiments in the lab on photovoltaic cells, transformers, and more. This leads to the paper design of a solar-powered "student center” for a chosen location on the Columbia campus. Then the focus shifts to direct (non-electrical) use of solar energy, with experiments in heat transfer leading to the design and physical construction of solar ovens in which the students bake cookies. Along the way we discuss related technologies, including Li-Fi (communication via visible light). 

Students should have a good knowledge of precalculus, as this is a quantitative course. Some concepts from calculus will be introduced and used, but no prior exposure to calculus is expected. Laptops, while not required for this curricular option, are recommended.

This is an intensive three-week course that introduces rising high school juniors and seniors to the field of biomedical engineering (BME), the application of engineering principles for biological and medical-related research. Prerequisites for the course include biology and chemistry, although many students have already taken physics as well.  The course adopts articular cartilage, the load-bearing tissue covering the ends of our diarthrodial joints as a paradigm to expose students to biomedical engineering approaches for growing tissue replacements and substitutes through application of biophysical stimulation.  The daily schedule consists of formal lectures and prelab given by the instructors concerning developments and cell biology/bioengineering background in the field, and 2 hours of hands-on lab work.  Lecture topics include cell biology, cell/tissue culture, cell sources, scaffold materials for tissue engineering, measurement of material properties, bioreactors, and studies on the physical response of cells to applied chemical, mechanical and electrical stimuli.  Clinical motivation for tissue replacements (e.g., disease, trauma and aging) and structure-function relationships of tissues are emphasized. Additional lectures also cover bioengineering innovation, design, as well as careers in biomedical engineering.  


Students will pick one elective to participate in during the session. 2019 electives are yet to be announced.

Lab Spaces

Students can use Columbia’s MakerSpace lab daily to build project prototypes. The MakerSpace is equipped with 3D printers, a laser cutter, and CNC tools for digital fabrication. Dr. John Kymissis and Dr. Hod Lipson are the faculty directors of the Columbia MakerSpace. Course TAs will supervise student projects in the lab.

Students can use the Mech-Tech lab to channel their ideas into creating tangible technology. The lab comes with equipment and resources to build their tech projects. Dr. Jeff Kysar is the faculty director of the space. Course TAs will supervise student projects in the lab.

College Preparation Workshops

  • Essay writing
  • Admissions case studies
  • College tour and info session
  • Facilitated by the Columbia undergraduate admissions office

Sample Schedule