Courses and Schedule

Program Overview

SHAPE offers two 3-week sessions. Please see below the dates for Summer 2024.

  • Session 1: July 8 - July 26, 2024
  • Session 2: July 29 - August 16, 2024

Students will choose a subject and participate in one of these college-level engineering courses for the duration of their session. The program also features electives, college preparation, support from Columbia students, and other workshops. Please note that SHAPE is a pre-college program taught by faculty, but it does not provide college credit. 

Note: SHAPE 2024 will continue to be an in-person, commuter program. Admitted students must be compliant with Columbia University's public health requirements.

Below is a list of courses in session 1 and session 2 of Summer 2024. 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.


Dive into the emerging world of robotics and self-driving technology! This course is a hands-on experience that blends theory with real-world experiments, and it takes you on an adventure to explore the role of fundamental engineering disciplines in modern engineering design. 

Project Highlights:

  • Design and craft your own robotic car from scratch.
  • Program its paths to navigate through a maze and complete tasks.
  • Learn the secret recipes behind engineering and mechanics, including 3D modeling in SOLIDWORKS and sensor technology, as well as principles of solid modeling, sensor technology and locomotion.
  • Unleash your creativity and compete to be the most efficient self-driving robotic car.

Do you have experience with robotics and want to take your skills to the next level? You will be challenged throughout this course to design, build, and control a walking quadrupedal robot of your own creation! 

Project Highlights:

  • Learn how to sketch like an engineer and turn your sketches into computerized 3D models.
  • Bring your 3D-modeled robot into the real world using 3D printing.
  • Attach motors to it and program it using the Arduino programming language.
  • Code in different walking motions as your robot explores the world.

Broadly, the course serves as a high-level overview to introduce students to the wide range of modern legged robotics.


Have you ever broken a bone and received an x-ray, a cast, and a pair of crutches at the doctor’s office? Have you ever been tested for COVID before traveling or visiting friends and loved ones? Perhaps someone you know relies on a medical device such as an insulin pump or a pacemaker to keep them alive? You can thank biomedical engineers for all of these technologies and so much more!

Project Highlights:

  • Hands-on laboratory exercise in different areas of biomedical engineering (BME), such as biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, and medical imaging.
  • Explore the engineering design process and various rapid prototyping techniques (3D printing, laser engraving, etc.)
  • Construct your very own biomedical device.


Calling math and programming enthusiasts for an exciting journey into the world of competitive problem-solving! Whether you're a beginner, an enthusiast, or a competitor eyeing success, this course is tailored just for you.

Project Highlights:

  • Explore the fundamentals of algorithms: sorting, graphs, strings, number theory, and combinatorics.
  • Introduce online judges for training and how to parse the inputs and produce outputs
  • The winners of the training may get recognition as the first step to ace competitions like USACO, USAMO, and ICPC.

Attention coding enthusiasts, brace yourselves for the ultimate programming challenge! This is an advanced course to equip students with competitive programming skills. If you're aiming for USACO's platinum division or competing in ICPC series upon entering university, this course is for you. Whether you code in C++, Python, or Java, we've got you covered.

Project Highlights:

  • Dive into advanced algorithms, exploring graph theory, string manipulation, and dynamic data structures. 
  • Unravel powerful tools, such as Edmond-Karp and Dinic, Knuth-Morris-Pratt (KMP), Rabin-Karp, and segment trees from its vanilla implementations to persistent version.
  • Get hands-on with applications, solving complex puzzles mirroring USACO's platinum level challenges.

*Students applying to this course should have a CodeForces score of 1800 or higher and/or USACO Gold or Platinum. If this does not reflect on your transcript, please include it in your resume.

Every once in a while, you dream of being a superhero to save the planet. This course will empower you to tackle climate change head-on with science and engineering.

Project Highlights:

  • Understand the impact of climate change on your lives (e.g., fires, hurricanes, floods, etc.)
  • Learn about the greenhouse effect and discover how to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Explore catalyst technologies and design eco-friendly products, such as petroleum processing, specialty chemical production, and new product development.
  • Dig into renewable energy sources, the “green” hydrogen economy, and fuel cells.
  • Apply science and engineering concepts to re-design the Earth for the future!

*Students applying to this course must have completed high school Chemistry before taking this course. If this does not reflect on your transcript, please include it in your resume.


A world with cleaner energy, greener infrastructure, and renewable resources is attainable in the near future! In this course, you will be introduced to a typology of problems by context and common frameworks for addressing them through the application of appropriate technology and policy. You will work in groups to design and present a poster detailing your findings.

Project Highlights:

  • Overview of sustainable development challenges and possible solutions
  • Indicators of sustainability
  • Life Cycle and Supply Chain Analysis
  • Sustainable Energy Systems and Electrification
  • Renewable Energy and Alternative fuels
  • Circular Economy and Sustainable Waste Management
  • Water treatment
  • Transport
  • The role of Industry 4.0 in achieving sustainable solutions
  • Economics of sustainability and public policy

Probability is about much more than counting cards! This course is a gentle introduction to the mathematics of probability, assisted throughout with concrete simulation projects.

Project highlights:
- Learn how to reason carefully about randomness and resolve "paradoxes."
- Develop decision-making principles in the face of uncertainty: Is this a good bet?
- Understand the "fundamental limit theorems" of probability, the hidden laws of nature that underlie almost every area of modern science and engineering.
- Design your own simulations in Excel and/or Python.

Have you ever wondered how new products are created? Do you want to make something in your life easier?

This course will focus on the design process in order to develop an initial prototype of a new, student-chosen invention. Throughout the course, you will build up their design skills, including ideation techniques, concept development, rapid prototyping, electronic and mechanical components, and manufacturing techniques. You will progress through the entire design process by identifying a problem, coming up with multiple possible solutions, developing a concept using sketches and modeling, and building initial prototypes. Depending on the proposed solution, students may use 3D modeling software, 3D printing, laser cutting, or soldering - let your project and your imagination be your guide! Every week, you will present your progress to the rest of the class and receive feedback as you push to iterate and improve on your devices.

The built environment is all around us; it includes the buildings in which we live and work, as well as the infrastructure that connects cities, bridges rivers, and delivers utilities, but also parks in which we play. As such, the built environment shapes how we our lives, interact with each other, move within our world, work, and play – it shapes who we are. Using the adjacent Morningside Park as a Living Laboratory, we will devise smart green designs to solve problems emblematic of the challenges of climate change, aging infrastructure, social equity, and inclusion. With the built environment causing 40% of the carbon output of humanity, civil engineering is at the core of this transformation!

Project Highlights:

  • Carleton Laboratory: hands-on laboratory exercises to understand how both traditional and novel materials perform and fail.
  • Living Classroom: Design the “Park of Tomorrow” by using Morningside  Park as a Living Classroom.
  • Drones: learn how advanced such as first-person drones can furnish transformative data.
  • Prototyping: design and build a physical model of Morningside using state-of-the-art laser cutters and 3D printers to showcase your design solutions.

Welcome to a journey where math meets real-world problems! In this course, we'll explore how the superpowers of mathematics and logical thinking can be used to solve big societal issues. (no math wizardry required) 

Project Highlights:

  • Learn to use tools like optimization (finding the best solution), simulation (testing out different scenarios), and data analysis (making sense of lots of complex information) to make a real difference. 
  • Explore potential improvements in healthcare, education, and city planning.
  • Build projects using numbers and math to make a difference, one smart decision at a time!

Ever wondered how sunlight can power our world? In this course, you will explore elements of electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering, all supporting the engineering of solar energy systems. Join us for a high-voltage adventure into the world of solar energy!  

Project Highlights:

  • Design and build your very own solar oven to bake delicious treats.
  • Investigate two kinds of solar energy: photovoltaic (conversion of solar energy to electrical form) and solar thermal (direct use of solar energy). 
  • Learn the basics of electricity and solar cells while creating a solar array.
  • Work with Arduino to create digital circuits and program sensors.
  • Simulate a voting machine and understand how technology shapes the world.

Join us if you want to be a part of the league of problem solvers and innovators who tackle global challenges using skills in chemical engineering! This course offers an overview of what chemical engineers do and the ways chemical engineers think. It describes the roles chemical engineers serve across industries to develop quantitative solutions to process problems using material balance strategies.

Project Highlights:

  • Discover the unique role of chemical engineers in creating cutting-edge projects
  • Explore chemical reactions and their use in optimizing chemical processes.
  • Learn to use approaches for evaluating chemical processes and bacterial balances and their application to process flow calculations.
  • Take on real chemical engineering projects to combat health, energy, and environmental challenges.

*Students applying to this course must have completed high school Chemistry before taking this course. If this does not reflect on your transcript, please include it in your resume.

Unleash the power of data and become a data-driven decision maker! In this course, you will explore three perspectives of data science: inferential thinking, computational thinking, and real-world applications. You will experience the entire process like a real data scientist, from collecting and analyzing relevant data, to drawing conclusions and providing recommendations. 

Project Highlights:

  • Understand fundamental statistical theories and their applications
  • Use computer programming to conduct computation, data manipulation, data visualization, and data analysis.
  • Have the ability to examine a dataset, ask interesting questions, and use data science knowledge to provide solutions.


Students will select one elective to participate in during the session. The 2024 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

All students will visit the Makerspace. The MakerSpace is equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC tools for digital fabrication. Students are required to complete a safety training before using the space and will only do so under close supervision. Some classes will use the Makerspace on a regular basis to build prototypes.


Workshops led by Columbia Engineering's Office of Professional Development and Leadership facilitate a variety of workshops ranging from public speaking skills to how to present yourself online.

There will also be College Preparation Workshops facilitated by the Columbia undergraduate admissions office

2023 Schedule

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