Summer Program in Automation Robotics and Coding (SPARC)

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

High school students building and programming electric toys and robots at robotics classroom

Summer Program in Automation Robotics and Coding (SPARC)

Today, things like robots, apps, and smart machines are changing how we live and work. That’s why learning about automation, robotics, and coding is super important. For high school students who want to get into these cool areas, there’s a special program called SPARC – the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding. SPARC is all about teaching you the cool stuff behind these technologies and giving you a head start in these fields.

In this blog post, we’re going to tell you all about SPARC. You’ll learn what it is, where and when it happens, and why you should think about joining. We’ll also walk you through how to sign up, what the application process looks like, and when you need to apply. If you’re into tech and want to make cool things happen, stick around to see how SPARC can help you do just that.

What is the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding?

The Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC) is a cool way for high school students to dive into the world of robots and coding. Picture this: a place where you can learn to build your own robot under the guidance of expert teachers from NYU Tandon School of Engineering. This isn’t just any classroom lesson; it’s a hands-on experience where you actually get to create something that moves and responds. SPARC runs for two full weeks and is open to students going into 9th through 12th grade. Don’t worry if you’ve never touched a robot or coded before. This program is for anyone who’s curious and ready to learn, as long as you’re up for the challenge and interested in tech.

At SPARC, you’ll get your hands on a robotics kit and start piecing together your own robot from scratch. But it’s not just about putting parts together; you’ll learn how all these parts talk to each other. You’ll explore how to use microcontrollers, which are like the brain of your robot, telling it what to do. Then, you’ll add sensors and actuators; sensors let your robot understand its surroundings, and actuators help it move or react. Imagine creating a robot that can navigate obstacles all by itself!

Students take their online AP Comp Sci A exam

The coursework is pretty intense but super interesting. You’ll dive into computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering all at once. This means you’ll get to grips with the basics of electricity, like what makes a circuit, and how to control the flow of electricity to make your robot do things. You’ll learn programming too, starting with the basics and moving up to more complex stuff like loops, conditions, and how to store data. By the end, you’ll know how to make your robot interact with its environment, take measurements with its sensors, and act on those measurements.

What’s really cool about SPARC is the range of skills you pick up. It’s not just about building robots; it’s about solving problems, thinking creatively, and working as a team. You’ll finish the program with a solid foundation in robotics and coding, plus a bunch of skills that are useful no matter what you decide to do in the future. Whether you’re dreaming of a career in tech or just love the idea of creating something that moves and responds, SPARC is the perfect place to start.

Where is the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding Being Held?

The Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC) takes place in a bustling spot that’s all about innovation and creativity: the New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, located in downtown Brooklyn, New York. This isn’t just any location; it’s a place where students can immerse themselves in the world of tech, surrounded by the latest gadgets and some of the smartest minds in engineering.

New York University

From Monday to Friday, students will spend their days both learning in class and working hands-on with their projects. This mix of solo and group work helps everyone get a deep understanding of how to build cool tech stuff like AR games and apps. But it’s not all work and no play! SPARC students have the chance to dive into campus life with various activities and events. Imagine hanging out with other high schoolers from around the globe who are just as into tech and engineering as you are. Plus, there are organized trips to some of NYC’s coolest spots — think Broadway shows, Yankee Stadium, and world-famous museums.

For students coming from out of town or those who just want to get the full campus experience, there’s the option to stay in one of NYU’s residence halls. This means you can live right on campus, making it super easy to get to classes and activities. Of course, if you’re a local or prefer to commute, that’s totally fine too. Whether you’re living on campus or commuting, SPARC offers a unique chance to learn and explore one of the most exciting cities in the world, all while diving deep into the realms of automation, robotics, and coding.

When Does the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding Take Place?

The Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC) happens during the summer, and it’s split into three sessions, so you’ve got options to fit your schedule. Each session includes an orientation and two weeks of program time.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Session I kicks off with an orientation on June 14, from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM EST, and this happens online through Zoom. So, you can join from anywhere to get the lowdown on what to expect. Then, the actual program runs from June 17 to June 28, 2024.
  • Session II has its orientation on July 1, also from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM EST on Zoom. The program dates for this session are from July 8 to July 19, 2024.
  • Session III starts with an orientation on July 26, once again on Zoom from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM EST. The final round of the program then goes from July 29 to August 9, 2024.

For each session, students will have classes and project time scheduled Monday through Friday 9 am-4 pm. The program doesn’t just dump a bunch of info on you and then leave you to figure it out; it’s designed with a mix of learning and doing. Expect full days packed with all things robotics, coding, and automation. This setup gives you a good chunk of time to dive deep into the tech and come out with some serious skills.

Why Should You Join the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding?

Joining the Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC) is like unlocking a door to the future. It’s not just about learning to build robots or code; it’s about setting yourself up for some amazing opportunities down the line. Here’s why you should consider being part of SPARC:

First off, the skills you’ll learn are top-notch and super relevant. We’re talking about automation, robotics, and coding – the stuff that’s shaping our world right now. By getting hands-on experience in these areas, you’re not just playing around with cool tech; you’re learning the language of the future. These skills can help you in almost any career path because, let’s face it, technology is everywhere.

Side view at multi-ethnic group of students using laptop while studying in college

But it’s not just about the hard skills. SPARC also teaches you how to think like a problem-solver and work well with others. You’ll be tackling projects that require creativity, teamwork, and perseverance. These soft skills are gold when it comes to college applications and job interviews. Colleges and employers are always on the lookout for people who can bring fresh ideas to the table and work well in a team.

Speaking of college, SPARC can really make your college application stand out. It shows that you’re curious, motivated, and ready to challenge yourself. Plus, the specific skills and experiences you gain at SPARC could be the highlight of your application essay or interviews. Whether you’re aiming for a tech-focused program or something else entirely, the qualities you develop at SPARC are bound to impress.

And about your future career? Well, the tech skills you pick up at SPARC are in high demand. Automation, robotics, and coding are at the heart of many industries – from healthcare and manufacturing to entertainment and beyond. Starting to build your expertise now means you’ll be well ahead of the game when you’re ready to enter the workforce. Plus, the connections you make and the projects you work on could open doors to internships, mentorships, and even job opportunities down the line.

In short, SPARC isn’t just a summer program; it’s an investment in your future. It’s a chance to learn, grow, and set yourself up for success in college and beyond. Whether you’re already passionate about tech or just curious to explore new things, SPARC offers a unique and exciting opportunity to dive into the world of automation, robotics, and coding.

How to Join the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding

Joining the Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC) is an exciting step for any high school student interested in tech. Here’s a simple guide on how to get started:

Who Can Apply

  • You should be in 9th, 10th, or 11th grade.
  • You need to have finished Algebra 2 (or something similar) and tried some computer programming before, in any language.
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher is a good sign that you’re ready for SPARC.

Steps to Apply

  1. Fill Out the Online Application: This form will ask about you and your school stuff.
  2. Send Your High School Transcript: This shows your grades and the classes you’ve taken.
  3. Write Four Short Essays: These let you share more about who you are and why you’re interested in SPARC.
  4. Proof of English Skills (for students from other countries): If you’re joining us from another country, you’ll need to show you’re good with English.


  • Tuition Fee: $3000. This covers:
    • Course Fees: $2500
    • Materials: $250 (like your robotics kit)
    • University Programs Fee: $50
    • NYU Service Fee: $100
    • NYU Events Fee: $100 ($50 for each week of the program)
  • Optional Extras:
    • Housing: $616 ($308 per week if you want to stay on campus)
    • Meal Plan (with housing): $192 for ten meals and $30 for snacks

Important to Know

  • There aren’t any scholarships or financial help available for SPARC.
  • For International Students, remember there might be extra fees for your visa.

Follow these steps, and you could be on your way to an awesome summer learning about automation, robotics, and coding. Don’t forget, getting into SPARC is a chance to build on what you know, meet new friends, and maybe even get a head start on your future career.

When is the Deadline to Apply for the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding?

If you’re thinking about joining the Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC), there’s an important date to remember: the application deadline. You can start applying on January 15, 2024, which gives you a bit of time to get everything ready. But don’t wait around too long because you need to have your application in by May 1, 2024. That’s the official deadline.

However, there’s a catch you should know about. The program has a limited number of spots, and they might fill up before May 1. This means if lots of students apply early and fill all the available spaces, the program could close applications before the deadline. So, the best advice is to apply as soon as you can after January 15. That way, you have a better chance of getting a spot in the program. Remember, it’s not just about beating the deadline; it’s about getting your application in before the program reaches its maximum capacity.

How Hard is it to Get Into the Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding?

Getting into the Summer Program for Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC) can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Since SPARC is all about teaching high school students some really cool and important tech skills, a lot of students want to join. This means the program can get pretty competitive.

a student is studying while using his laptop

When you apply, your application goes through a careful review. The people looking at your application really want to know who you are, what you’ve done, and how interested you are in robotics and coding. They check out your grades to make sure you’re ready for the challenge, especially in subjects like math. But it’s not just about grades. They also read your short essays closely. This is where you can shine by showing your passion for technology, any projects you’ve worked on, or even just ideas you have.

What makes an application stand out? Well, if you’ve done some coding before, even if it’s just a little, make sure to talk about it. If you’ve been part of a robotics club, science fair, or any tech-related activities, that’s great to include too. And if you haven’t done these things, no worries! Just show your eagerness to learn and explore new things in your essays. Being curious, having a good attitude, and being ready to dive into learning can really make your application pop.

Final Thoughts

SPARC is a cool chance for high school students to dive deep into the worlds of robotics, coding, and automation. It’s a bit competitive to get in, but showing your passion and eagerness can really make your application stand out. Remember, the deadline to apply is May 1, but don’t wait too long since spots fill up fast. So, if you’re into tech and want to spend your summer doing something amazing, SPARC is the place to be. Don’t miss this chance to learn, explore, and maybe even set the path for your future!


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