Courses and Schedule

Program Overview

SHAPE offers two 3-week sessions. The dates for Summer 2022 are below:

  • Session 1: July 5 - July 22, 2022 (Monday - Friday)
  • Session 2: July 26 - August 12, 2022 (Monday - Friday)

Students will choose a subject and participate in one introductory college-level engineering course for the duration of their session. The program also features electives, college preparation, support from Columbia students, and other workshops. Please note that if you are accepted to SHAPE you will be able to confirm or adjust your course and session interest again at that time.

We are excited to announce that the SHAPE program will be in person for summer 2022! We are working very hard to plan the details for this summer. Please continue to check this page for more details as they are finalized. 

Note: While we plan for SHAPE to offer in-person programming, we will default to a virtual or hybrid model as necessary due to COVID-19. Admitted students must follow Columbia University's public health protocols, which include vaccination against COVID-19, masking, and distancing where appropriate.


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. 

This course is a project-based course that explores the role of fundamental engineering disciplines in modern engineering design. The objective of the class project is two-fold: (a) design a robot capable of autonomously navigating pre-determined maze and executing posed task, and (b) assemble a toy car from pre-existing kit and program the toy car to execute specified movements. 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. Each student is responsible for conceiving and executing an original design.

This course addresses students who already have some basic background in computing and programming in any language (such as Java or Python).  By the end of the course, students will know how to think like a computer scientist, develop computational solutions to problems at a high level, critically compare different algorithms that solve the same problem, and implement applications in Python from scratch. 

The course consists of the following components, which build on each other: 

  • A brief review of the Python language, with a focus on object oriented programming.
  • Formal analysis of algorithms and big-O notation. Students will implement, analyze and compare a number of comparison-based sorting algorithms. 
  • Theory and implementation of fundamental data structures such as stacks, queues, heaps, trees. 
  • Graphs and associated algorithms (tree traversals, shortest paths). 
  • An introduction to Artificial Intelligence and problem solving using heuristic state-space search, as well as adversarial search and game playing. 
  • Additional topics such as an introduction to Machine Learning and neural networks may be covered based on student interest. 

Each day will consist of short lectures and practice exercises. As a final project during the last week of the course, students will develop AI players for a board game and have their AIs compete against each other in a tournament. While students will work on exercises and projects independently, supported by the instructor and SSLs, we will foster a collaborative work environment using tools such as Git and collaborative code editors, as well as chat and video conferencing. 


Harnessing the Energy of the Sun - This course combines elements of electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering, all supporting the engineering of solar energy systems. We’ll investigate two kinds: photovoltaic (conversion of solar energy to electrical form) and solar thermal (direct use of solar energy). Activities for the former include learning the basics of electricity in general and solar cells in particular, then designing a solar array to power a small student center. For the latter, you’ll learn how a solar oven works and build one at home to bake cookies, then learn how to design some simple digital circuits and program an Arduino with attached sensors to measure the performance of your solar oven. Finally, with your digital circuit knowledge, you’ll design and simulate a voting machine.

The course will begin with a short discussion of the greenhouse effect, combustion sources of CO2, and the state of the art in CO2 capture. A brief discussion of catalyst fundamentals provides students with basic knowledge to understand well known products such as petroleum processing, specialty chemical production and new product development. Existing applications of biomass conversions to fuels, edible and non-edible products will also be discussed. This will be followed by research topics under intense research in universities and industry for environmentally friendly product formation.  The critical role of, kinetics, catalytic processes and their selectivity will be integrated into practical solutions for future “green” technologies. Students will learn the important roles of heterogenous catalysis, renewable sources of energy, electrochemical technologies, the emerging “green” hydrogen economy and fuel cells all required for mitigating climate change. 

This introductory but practical course is designed for new students to recognize career opportunities in this most significant challenge to save the planet. The outcome will be instructive in applying fundamental scientific and engineering principles for addressing climate change in pursuit of a sustainable earth. 


Development of the infrastructure for providing safe and reliable resources (energy, water and other materials, transportation services) to support human societies while attaining environmental objectives. Introduction of a typology of problems by context, and common frameworks for addressing them through the application of appropriate technology and policy. An interdisciplinary perspective that focuses on the interaction between human and natural systems is provided. Alternatives for resource provision and forecasts of their potential environmental impacts through a context provided by real- world applications and problems.

The course is project-based. The students will work on a project of their interest after discussion with the instructor. The topics, which will be covered in class are the following, but not limited to:

  1. Overview of sustainable development challenges and possible solutions
  2. Indicators of sustainability
  3. Life Cycle and Supply Chain Analysis
  4. Sustainable Energy Systems and Electrification
  5. Renewable Energy and Alternative fuels
  6. Circular Economy and Sustainable Waste Management
  7. Water treatment
  8. Transport
  9. The role of Industry 4.0 in achieving sustainable solutions
  10. Economics of sustainability and public policy


Students will select one elective to participate in during the session. The 2022 electives will be developed with our undergraduate team. Participating students can express interest in multiple electives, and will be placed according to interest and receive information about class specifics in the week before the program begins. If students need to adjust their placement, this will be accommodated in the early stages of SHAPE.

Lab Spaces

Students can use that Columbia Makerspace 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 EEUs will supervise student projects in the lab.

Students can use the MechTech lab to channel their ideas into creating tangible technology. Dr. Jeff Kysar is the faculty director of the space. Course EEUs will supervise student projects in the lab.

College Preparation Workshops

  • Facilitated by the Columbia undergraduate admissions office

2022 Schedule