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Are you a high school student interested in exploring computer science and potential career options? Would you like the opportunity to learn on a college campus and engage in hands-on research, interacting with university faculty and students? If so, apply now for one (or both) of two sessions being offered at UC Irvine through the ICS Summer Academy, housed in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS).

“I am excited about the ICS Summer Academy for high school students, as we expanded it this year to offer two different sessions,” says Julie Lindo, director of outreach for the ICS Office of Access & Inclusion. Session I, “Data Analytics: Theory & Applications,” runs July 10 to July 21, and Session II, “Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning,” runs July 24 to Aug. 4. Each two-week session will take place Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building at UCI.

“Both sessions present an excellent opportunity for students interested in computer science and its interdisciplinary implications,” says Lindo. “Students will work with distinguished faculty and with graduate and undergraduate students, gaining valuable college preparation and exposure.”

Both sessions also include a capstone project based on a real-world problem or application, with students presenting their findings at a closing symposium event.

The new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB) at UCI.
The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB) at UCI.

Data Analytics: Theory & Applications
During Session I, which was first offered last summer, students will explore the foundations of data science, learning various methods and concepts while conducting hands-on projects. (The recommended prerequisite for this course is Algebra II or Integrated Math II.)

“Students get to work with actual data sets and learn how to manipulate the data, make models, analyze their results and present it in a way that illustrates certain interesting conclusions,” says Computer Science Professor Magda El Zarki, who serves as director of the academy. “It’s an eye-opener for a lot of kids!”

In particular, students will become familiar with methods associated with data collection, data processing, data summarization and visualization, and statistical modeling approaches for prediction. They also learn about statistical inference techniques for testing scientific hypotheses and about statistical thinking for decision-making under uncertainty. Through teamwork and interactive learning, students will practice processes related to scientific investigation and inquiry, with applications in biology and medical sciences, among others.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
New for 2023 is Session II, which will explore artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms, methods, and concepts, through both paper and programming approaches. In particular, students will learn methods associated with classification, clustering and regression testing. (The prerequisite for this course is either Session 1 or completion of AP Statistics.)

Students will practice using concepts learned by analyzing real data, applying the statistical programming language R. Working in teams on a case study, students will develop systems for applications such as handwriting recognition, network intrusion detection and advertising strategies.

“With the release of ChatGPT and GPT-4, we have seen a major jump in applicants to the discipline of AI/ML,” says El Zarki. “This introductory course for highschoolers will help them understand what all the hype is about and how they can become part of this exciting new field of study by pursuing a degree in computer science with a concentration in AI/ML.”

Apply Now!
Interested students (incoming 9th graders through graduating 12th graders) must apply online by April 30, 2023. The application is short but does require the name, title and email address of a teacher, principal or school administrator who (when contacted) can submit a letter of recommendation (due by May 5, 2023). There is no application fee, and the $2,500 program cost covers lunches and snacks, and all materials required (ICS will provide laptops with all the software needed for the course). Each cohort should be around 30 students, and students will get to tour the UCI campus; visit research labs in the School’s Departments of Computer ScienceInformatics, and Statistics; and explore career pathways in the many related fields of computing.

“Students will gain valuable, hands-on experience at the ICS Summer Academy, which will enhance their college and scholarship applications, and boost their resume for internship opportunities,” says Lindo. “This experience will help prepare them for success as young professionals.”

— Shani Murray