Skip to content
Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Programs

Fabricating the Future: Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Dates: July 1-15, 2017 (2 weeks)
Credits: Non-credit
Eligibility: current sophomores, juniors, seniors
(see eligibility requirements)
Status: This program is full but we are accepting applications for the wait list.

Overview

In this innovative program, you'll experiment with microcontrollers, 3-D printers, and other leading-edge tools to create small robotic devices. You'll then use these tools to explore topics such as artificial intelligence, control theory, algorithm design, and high-tech manufacturing.

You'll supplement makerspace activities with college-level coursework in subjects ranging from engineering and ethics to science and technology, and you'll enjoy field trips to Cornell’s first-class research facilities, nanotechnology labs, and synchrotron.

Your experience will be further enriched by presentations by distinguished guest lecturers, including award-winning MacArthur Fellow Jon Kleinberg, chair of Cornell's acclaimed Information Science Department and a professor of both computer science and information science. You'll also hear from Hadas Kress-Gazit, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Dave Schneider, senior lecturer of systems engineering; Kirstin Petersen, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Stephen Wicker, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The program, led by Greg Armstrong, will be rooted in a typical engineering design process, using tools such as 3-D printers and laser cutters.

After working through the expected mechanical challenges in building your robot, you will solve behavioral challenges for it, combining input and output devices with your own code. These challenges will include interacting with other classmates' devices in the context of a simple game environment.

The material is fascinating, and the learning will be rich—an intensive hands-on immersion for students seriously interested in robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation of all kinds for domestic, commercial, and other purposes.

No prior experience with coding is required; students of all levels, from beginners to experts, are welcome. Just come prepared to build your science, engineering, and technology skills—and to be inspired by the possibilities.

Note: This competitive program is non-credit and runs for two weeks.

You are strongly encouraged, but not required, to bring your own laptop computer. If this is not possible, you will be able to share a laptop with another student.

International students:

  • If you attend only this program, you do not need to obtain an F-1 student visa. Instead, you need to obtain a tourism/business visa.
  • If you combine this program with one of Summer College’s three-week credit-bearing programs for a five-week dual program, you need to obtain an F-1 student visa as outlined on the Apply now page. This visa will cover the dates of the credit-bearing program and allow you to enter the U.S. 30 days before that program starts (which will cover the Robotics program) and stay up to 60 days after the end of your program.

Course expectations

Students are expected to:

  • attend for the full duration of each class, barring illness or extenuating circumstances;
  • participate actively in discussions, demonstrations, experiments, and construction of devices;
  • complete reading and design work out of class as assigned;
  • observe all safety protocols; and
  • demonstrate a spirit of cooperation, courtesy, and professionalism.

Course

You'll be enrolled in the non-credit course Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (UNIV 1109).

NOTE: No prior experience with robotics is required but students with experience programming in C/C++, Java, or other similar languages are encouraged to enroll in this course. Experience programming will enable students to get the most out of this fast-paced course in robotics and engineering.

This course meets Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Note: You may combine this program with a three-week 2 program to create a five-week Dual Program.

Maximum enrollment: 56

Required materials

Title Author Cost
Course packet $TBD
Robotics Kit $245

The course packet will be available at The Cornell Store.

Special scheduling

Events

  • Tuesday, July 4: Class will be held
  • Monday, July 10: College Admissions Workshop, 2:30–3:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 15: Graduation ceremony: 11:00 a.m.–noon

Graduation

Students and their families are cordially invited to an informal graduation on Saturday, July 15 from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Students will each receive a Cornell University Summer College certificate and be able to take farewell photos with their friends and faculty. Note that attendance is not required, but is highly recommended and is a nice way to conclude the program. Dress is smart casual.

Checkout dates and times

Before making travel plans, review the checkout dates and times for your program. We strictly adhere to these deadlines.

Program directors

Greg Armstrong

Greg Armstrong is secretary of the board of the TEC (Technology Education Cooperative) Hub Foundation, which is dedicated to inspiring a new generation of science and technology professionals. In this role, he helps to develop communities for entrepreneurial "makers"—individuals who create objects using technologies such as electronics, robotics, and 3-D printing. He's also developed two products through TEC Ventures: the TEC Nest, a bluebird house designed (and manufactured using digital fabrication) to be easy to assemble, inexpensive, and attractive, and the TEC Rocket, an education tool designed to teach the basics of electronics, programming, and rocket science.

Armstrong studied physics at Hamilton College, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree magna cum laude in 2006. He also holds a master of arts (with a concentration in physics, quantum optics, and non-linear optics) from the University of Rochester.

Armstrong is familiar with a variety of programming languages and has experience operating Shopbot CNC routers, laser cutters, and a variety of 3-D printers for prototyping and low-volume manufacturing. He also does 3-D modeling using Autodesk Fusion 360, Inventor, and Tinkercad.

Armstrong serves on the board of directors of Ithaca Generator and is a Lego master, Ultimate Frisbee guru, Arduino advocate, and amateur birder and nature lover.

David Saroka

David Saroka is an engineer at Intertek Group plc, where his focus is thermodynamic testing and the automation of laboratory operations through robotics and self-modifying/learning programs. His other projects include a jet quad copter, a remote-control lawn mower, and an automated garden.

Saroka started learning about electronics and radio communication in the United States Marine Corps, where he was trained as a ground radio repairman. He received a bachelor of science degree in physics from Carson-Newman University in 2013 and then did post-baccalaureate studies at Pace University, where his research was in the heat transfer of quantum wave packets. He also took graduate courses at California State University, Long Beach.

Saroka has programmed in a multitude of languages, including LabVIEW, and has extensive experience with the open-source electronics platform Arduino. He loves tinkering and trying new things. He has also taught undergraduate physics labs and is currently applying to PhD programs and working on publishing research.

“My goal as a teacher is not only to convey the material of the course, but to provide students with information that they can apply to other aspects of their lives so that they can develop their character, mature, and grow to be a better person.”
— David Saroka

Student experiences

"My professor, Mr. Greg Armstrong, was a great teacher. He clearly has expertise in computer science and in electrical engineering, both of which were key to the course. He explained even the abstract concepts very clearly and was able to answer a lot of questions." — Alex Olsen, 2016

Student blogs