Previous Summer Computing Academies

Summer Computing Academy (2023)

High Performance Research Computing hosted three (3) week-long GenCyber summer camps for high school students in June. The camps involved Python programming focused on specific applications relevant to cybersecurity. Zhenhua He and Richard Lawrence taught the Python sessions and guided students through activities and assignments in Google Classroom. The camps included a lab tour of the supercomputing clusters on the Texas A&M campus. The week began with an escape room with puzzles introducing the GenCyber Concepts. As groups completed the puzzles and unlocked the box, they were awarded their camp t-shirts. Then Python programming began, with sessions scattered throughout the week to build their programming abilities and address cybersecurity issues. Wesley Brashear led a session with a hands-on activity related to personal genomics and data privacy. John Romero used a hands-on activity to illustrate cryptography, and Richard Lawrence followed up with cryptography through Python. John Romero taught students about social engineering, and Michael Eagan taught them about secure systems. Students used a Wifi system and their cellular phones to fly drones and learned from experience how insecure such a system might be, allowing another person to take control of their drones. Zhenhua He introduced students to concepts and algorithms for machine learning and artificial intelligence. Industry speaker Jeanette Anderson took students through a simulated cybersecurity attack, as they took part as different actors in the network of individuals dealing with the attack. In addition to these activities, students toured the Texas A&M University campus and learned about preparation for college attendance while they are in high school as well as tips on applying to college. Throughout the week students worked in a group to design a secure system of their choice. On the final day students presented their projects to the group, with parents in attendance as well.

Summer Computing Academy (2022)

High Performance Research Computing hosted two weeks of summer camps for high school students in June. Both camps involved Python programming focused on specific applications relevant to the camp’s focus. Zhenhua He and Richard Lawrence taught the Python sessions and guided students through activities and assignments in Google Classroom. Both camps included a lab tour related to computing and research on the Texas A&M campus. In both camps, the final product was a group presentation of a project related to camp topics.

Computing for a Better Tomorrow: Data Sciences was held June 20-24.
Students learned about real life applications to big data processing, including DNA studies for various purposes. Dr. Wesley Brashear presented a session on Genomics, explaining DNA sequencing and its application in solving health issues. Students toured the DNA processing lab and learned some applications in research at Texas A&M. In the lab students toured, they have been processing DNA for different kinds of animals to build up the database of that information. They have done work on DNA of prize-winning cattle. Other labs on campus conduct similar studies of different kinds of organisms. The students heard a fascinating presentation by Dr. Xin Yang about COVID-19 spike proteins and the basics of how they work, which was another area the lab tour addressed. Texas A&M researchers are still doing a lot of research on the DNA involved with the virus. Students used the protein data bank to explore some protein sequences. They accessed the COVID structures site to explore the 3D structures of virus strains. Students used Python programming to apply their knowledge to their projects in data science. They presented their projects to parents at the end of camp. Employing curricula developed by Prof. Jeeeun Kim, and under the guidance of Abul Arabi, a M.S. student Computer Sciences at Texas A&M, students used Python coding and 3D design for printing to create mini robots that poured water into a cup. This activity showed them how so many functions in our lives can be accomplished with technology so that we can focus on more important issues. Chris Peter Francis and Yuanqi (Becky) Jing from Amazon Web Services (AWS) taught students about Cloud computing and current uses for this technology. John Watts showed students how to design effective posters to showcase their work for the final presentations at the end of camp.

Camp Secure: Cybersecurity was held June 27-July 1.
Alice Jin taught students the principles of cybersecurity and how they applied to them in their everyday lives. Richard Lawrence taught them about cryptography using Python and why it is important to secure data that seems harmless to be made public. An exercise was provided for students to try to steal an identity from public information that should have been kept more secure. This helped them understand why they need to be careful about what they post on social media. Dr. Zhenhua He taught sessions on machine learning with a handwriting classifier example. Students engaged with professors across the university to learn about several topics in cybersecurity and machine learning. Adam Mikel furthered students’ knowledge about safe online behavior and keeping personal information safe. Dr. Dhruva Chakravorty addressed the issue of ethics in cyber security. Prof. Jian Tao showed students how driving simulations allowed for a greater abundance of data to study for self-driving cars than the data only from actual drivers. Prof. ChiaChe Tsai explained how most technical-based cybersecurity breaches are done through memory attacks and this is the area specialists need to address to keep data safe. Kenton Romero taught the students how data travels across the internet. Students toured the Virtual Reality lab hosted by Prof. Jinsil Seo in Architecture and tried their hand at some activities there. Students applied cybersecurity principles to their cybersecurity projects, which they presented to parents on Friday at the close of camp. Students had a fabulous time and showcased their knowledge with some amazing creative ideas!

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Summer Computing Academy (2021)

In 2021, Texas A&M High Performance Research offered the Summer Computing Academy program that promotes computing in middle and high school students from around the world. This year, the Summer Computing Academy (SCA) returned after a COVID-19 hiatus to offer virtual and hybrid (in-person and virtual) week-long summer camps. The SCA offers two virtual GenCyber camps that focus on building concepts in Cybersecurity in the GenCyber format. This was followed by Camp Secure, a Cybersecurity and coding camp, and Camp Smart, a first of its kind camp focused on introducing data sciences and artificial intelligence / machine learning to young learners. In all, the camps had over 150 enthusiastic students participating in computing activities. Both virtual and in-person programs included hands-on activities, educational games, lectures from faculty, tours of campus facilities, and a session dedicated to college admissions. To encourage participation from campers, undergraduate and graduate students participated as counselors. Camp Smart and Camp Secure had previous SCA campers return as junior counselors. The camps culminated in a poster or digital artifact creations contest during which campers developed innovative solutions to address todays’ societal problems. Participants in Camp Secure used AI/ML and other data science techniques with modern Cyberinfrastructure techniques like pandas, regression analysis, interactive computing via Google Colab, APIs to pull data, websites, to analyze health, education, and gaming data.

Since its inception in 2017, the SCA program has provided enrichment to aspiring computing professionals. SCA alumni have gone on to participate in STEM and computing programs at the undergraduate level, including at Texas A&M. The program was made possible by a robust partnership with researchers and staff in the Department of Computer Science Engineering, the Department of Education and Human Resource Development, University Libraries, Texas Engineering Experiment Station, and the Division of Information Technology. The program gratefully acknowledges support from the Texas Workforce Commission, the National Science Foundation, NSF/NSA GenCyber, Dell EMC, Amazon Web Services, and Summus Industries.

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Summer Computing Academy (2019)

In the Summer of 2019, High Performance Research Computing hosted our 3rd Summer Computing Academy. The Summer Computing Academy partnered with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the College of Education and Human Development. The program was supported by Google, GenCyber, the Texas Workforce Commission, NVIDIA, the National Science Foundation and the Lenovo Education Foundation. The 2019 program provided summer cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) camp experiences across the nation for K-12 teachers and students to increase awareness of the exciting career opportunities within the field. The Cybersecurity camps offered an introductory perspective to cybersecurity principles. The AI camp, with more of a focus on programming in Python, exposed attendees to programming practices and contemporary computing issues and solutions such as cloud resources and live demos of self driving cars. During the camps, students learned about the problem solving and teamwork aspects of careers in engineering and also participated in computing challenges through various hands-on activities such as enhancing their problem-solving and debugging skills in Python. The program also introduced the students to cybersecurity principles and addressed topics such as information privacy and ethics. Altogether, the Summer Computing Academy hosted over 150 students from around the world.

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Summer Computing Academy (2018)

We taught 22 high-schoolers programing patterns with a focus on cybersecurity, cryptography and using machine learning for image recognition, We used different pedagogical approaches to teach these topics. We also introduced the students to a virtual reality data center simulation that emphasizes aspects of physical, networking and software cybersecurity.

In terms of successes, we had a few. The maker-space aspects of exercises with image-recognition were a tremendous success with both male and female participants. The participants rapidly went from applying the program to finding ways to throw it off, showing a grasp of the core concepts. We also had a few experiences that will guide us the next time we try to do this again. Overall, it was a fantastic experience Interestingly, our greatest accomplishment may have been of a technical nature. We successfully ran a complete Keras/Tensorflow workflow on a Jupyter notebook on a Raspberry Pi! This includes the training iterations. We think that may well have been the first of its kind. This platform reduces the barrier to machine learning and all the hands-on activities that come with it. At $35 it is affordable for schools and on-the-site training. An extended abstract describing our experiments with different pedagogical approaches has been accepted by the SigHPC workshop at SuperComputing18. The complete paper will appear in the Journal of Computational Science and Education later this year.

SCA 2018 Picture

Summer Computing Academy (2017)

Texas A&M High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) held its first HPRC Summer Computing Academy from July 24 to July 28, 2017. Twenty-one high school students from College Station, its surrounding areas, and even as far as Florida, learned how to program on a Raspberry Pi computer, experimented with cool Pi sensors such as buzzers and LED lights, and even built a computing cluster using the Raspberry Pis. The participants also enjoyed tours of the A&M campus and some of its facilities. To cap it all off there was a reception with cake, ice cream, and sodas for the participants and their parents.

HPRC would like to thank the TAMU community for all their support:

We would like to acknowledge the support from NSF project 1730695.

  • Group Photo at the EIC
  • Group Photo at the ILSB
  • Reception
  • Visiting the LMS
  • Rick McMullen Teaching Cluster Building with Raspberry Pis
  • Group Photo in the ILSB Auditorium
  • Python with Sensors Session
  • Python Session