UCLA Samueli Launches New Computer Science Summer Institute for High School Students

Illustration of topics covered in the intermediate track CS 97: Introduction to Data Science

Yizhou Sun
Illustration of topics covered in the intermediate track CS 97: Introduction to Data Science

Feb 18, 2021

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

This summer, UCLA computer science professor Yizhou Sun will introduce UCLA’s first-ever Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) aimed at engaging high school students who have a passion for computer science. The new program will offer two tracks — an introductory level on building programming skills and an intermediate level focusing on data-science fundamentals.

In accordance with Los Angeles County public health guidance, the program will be held virtually this summer. However, the institute will host online seminars on Fridays for both tracks, introducing the various computer labs. The seminars will be modeled after those attended by UCLA undergraduate freshmen, and will be conducted by faculty and Ph.D. students. Potential topics include computer science research, introduction to artificial intelligence, computational social science and quantum computing.

Sun was motivated to start the program in an effort to increase access to higher education. The institute will serve as a pipeline to build relationships with high-potential students and thereby strengthen the overall diversity of qualified applicants for UCLA Samueli.

“We want to invite younger students to begin coding and engaging in computational thinking at an early age,” Sun said.

“It is important that more students have access to quality enrichment courses to help fulfill their potential, encouraging them to embrace technology and helping them get ready for college.”

The introductory track closely resembles the undergraduate programming course — CS 30: Principles and Practices of Computing — designed for students in grades 9th-12th and high school graduates in spring 2021 without programming experience to learn the fundamentals of the top programming language Python. This three-week course will kick off the institute’s inaugural summer program from June 21 to July 9. Up to 100 students will be accepted for the course and it will be taught by UCLA computer science lecturer Parvaneh Ghaforyfard.

Sun will teach the intermediate track CS 97: Introduction to Data Science, which is designed for students with basic Python coding skills and a math and statistics background. This course will accommodate 60 students in grades 10th-12th and high school graduates in spring 2021, and will run the second three weeks of the program from July 12-30.

Participating students will not only receive instruction from UCLA computer science faculty, but also engage in extensive hands-on coding and interactive mentorship from undergraduate advisors recruited and professionally trained through student organizations, such as UCLA’s Association for Computing Machinery Artificial Intelligence (ACM AI).

In addition, students will have an opportunity to interact with one another in small groups during discussion sections, homework sessions and other activities. Each advisor will mentor no more than 16 students for the introductory track and 10 for the intermediate track, with the goal of developing individualized instruction.

To complete the course, students will work on a advisor-supervised capstone project — a fun assignment requiring application of techniques learned throughout the course.

In order to create a more diverse and inclusive cohort for this program, full and partial need-based scholarships will be provided to 5-10% of participants.

Upon completion of either course in the program, students will receive UCLA transcripts reflecting four-quarter units of letter grade UC credit. Many colleges and universities accept UCLA courses for transfer credit but students should get advance approval from their home institution prior to registration.

The institute is now open for registration and applicants are required to complete a short survey and submit unofficial high school transcripts. To learn more about CSSI, visit the program’s website.

Sarah Wang contributed to this story.