Course Overview

Ever wondered if we’re alone in the universe or if life thrives beyond our blue planet? Dive into the thrilling world of Astro-Bioengineering this summer and embark on an interstellar adventure to uncover the mysteries of life across galaxies!

“Astro-Bioengineering: Searching for the Limit of Life” offers young space enthusiasts and budding scientists a unique opportunity to explore the captivating intersection of astrobiology and bioengineering. Through dynamic lectures, immersive workshops, virtual explorations of alien-like terrains, and hands-on lab experiments, you’ll journey across potential extraterrestrial realms, examining their physical, biological, and geological wonders. Delve deep into the cutting-edge engineering technologies that empower our cosmic quest.

Discover the remarkable extremophiles of Earth – the superheroes of the microbial world that thrive in the harshest environments! Dive into the criteria that make planets hospitable for life and unravel the fascinating origins of life itself. Equip yourself with the knowledge of breakthrough life-detection technologies and the strategies to spot telltale signs of life, known as biomarkers.

But that’s not all! You’ll take on exhilarating challenges:

  • Design your very own Mars Rover prototype.
  • Engage in a simulated exobiological mission, playing detective to search for signs of life in unknown terrains.
  • Collaborate on projects to tackle real-world astrobiology conundrums using core engineering principles.

Join us on this galactic expedition, where the stars are not just the limit but the beginning of your exploration into the boundless possibilities of life in the cosmos!

All students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion and have the opportunity to request a Syracuse University noncredit transcript.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain comprehensive knowledge of the interdisciplinary fields of astrobiology and bioengineering, understanding their pivotal role in our search for extraterrestrial life.
  • Develop a deep understanding of Earth’s extremophiles and the criteria that determine planetary habitability, paving the way for insights into potential life beyond our planet.
  • Master the application of engineering principles and scientific methodologies in the detection and analysis of biomarkers in various extraterrestrial contexts.
  • Acquire practical skills in designing and prototyping robotic exploration tools, such as a Mars Rover, emphasizing the significance of robotics in space exploration.
  • Establish a robust foundation in the mathematical, geological, physical, biological, and chemical dimensions of astrobiology, preparing students for advanced studies and real-world challenges.
  • Engage in hands-on projects and simulations, fostering critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills tailored to astrobiology’s multifaceted scenarios.
  • Cultivate a sense of curiosity and wonder about the universe, encouraging continuous exploration and learning in the vast field of space science.

Course Information

Course Prefix and Number: SCN 069

Format: Online

Eligibility: Students must be of rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior status – or a 2024 high school graduate.

Applicants should have completed at least one introductory course in either biology, physics, chemistry, or a related STEM field. Basic familiarity with computer operations and the internet, given the online nature of the course.

Credit: Noncredit

Grading: Pass/Fail

Cost: $1,995

Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees. Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Information

Summer College – Online: Explore college life before stepping foot on campus! High school students can enroll in a college-level course, pursue their academic interests, and meet likeminded students in daily virtual events and activities.

Syracuse University Summer College precollege astrobiology student

“I took Astro-Bioengineering, which was very interesting, yet proved to be a challenge for me. Before the class, I did not know how to build a robot with household items nor how to make code. After receiving support from my professor, I was able to not only make a functioning robot and code but also exceed my own expectations. Summer College helped me realize that asking for help is okay and I can accomplish big things if I put my mind to it!”

— Sophia C., Summer College – Online Astro-Bioengineering student, 2020

Course Dates and Details

ProgramCourse DatesClass Time (Eastern Time)Credit/NoncreditStatus
Summer College – Online 3-Week Online Session II: Monday, July 29 – Thursday, Aug. 15, 2024MTWTh;
7 – 9 p.m.

Check out a video from Professor Yung on his Astro-Bioengineering course!

Course Requirements

Technology Requirements

  • A modern laptop or desktop computer
  • A stable internet connection
  • A working webcam and microphone
  • Open-source software will primarily be used

Student Expectations

Students must:

  • Attend to all academic requirements
  • Be on time for all sessions
  • Be attentive and engaged
  • Complete all academic requirements

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

Throughout the course, the structure might vary slightly based on the topic or the need to accommodate guest speakers, extended activities, or deeper dives into particularly complex subjects. However, the blend of lecture, discussion, hands-on activities, lab activities, circuit building, rover construction and reflection ensures students stay engaged and get the most out of their 2-hour daily sessions.

Faculty Bio

Douglas Yung – Associate Teaching Professor, Bioengineering, College of Engineering & Computer Science

Douglas Yung is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at Syracuse University and serves as the Director for the Bioengineering undergraduate program. He completed his B.S. in electrical engineering and mathematics at UCLA in 2003 and later pursued a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Caltech in 2008. Following this, he spent time at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, working on sensor development, microfluidics, and bacterial spore viability. In 2009, he joined the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as an Assistant Professor.

Prof. Yung is not just a distinguished academic but a visionary biomedical engineer. He is known for fostering expansive collaborations that bridge the gaps between academia, industry, hospitals, and communities on a grand scale. His intrigue lies at the intersection of microbes and engineering tools, particularly on a micro- and nano-scale. He is actively pioneering techniques to evaluate the resilience of superbugs and derive energy from extremophiles, merging electrochemical and optical techniques with MEMS devices. Over the past 12 years, he has championed more than 20 STEM outreach programs, impacting over 500 K-12 students. His contributions to education have been lauded with awards, including the College Educator of the Year by the Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY). A staunch advocate for hybrid teaching, Prof. Yung promotes a holistic learning environment rich in hands-on projects, experiential activities, and peer collaboration, a marked shift from conventional pedagogies.