Course Overview

For the first time in 2024, SU offers a single Summer College course merging two premier, popular courses that are both based upon the fundamental principles of aerodynamics: Aerospace Engineering and Renewable and Alternative Energy.

This Summer College Engineering program combines a college-level introduction to engineering with study in related subjects. Explore the roles of creativity and problem-solving in the profession and learn a variety of tools used in engineering.

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

Course Topics

  • Fundamentals of Flight – Aerodynamics
  • Basics of Space Flight – Sounding Rockets and Orbital Mechanics
  • History and Ongoing Relevance of Flight
  • US Space Policy Directives – i.e. Return to the Moon, Space Force
  • Private Satellite Industry Directives
  • Space Law, Regulation & Policy
  • Drone Research in Central New York
  • Transfer of Aerospace fundamentals to Industry – Importance of Airflow
  • Introduction to Amateur Radio – how to study for and acquire an FCC Technicians License.

Common Lectures Include:

  • Fundamental Units of Engineering and Fluid Dynamics
  • Intellectual Property, Engineering Ethics, Global and Local Initiatives & Stakeholders
  • Stress and Strain and Material Response to Conditions

Course Information

Course Prefix and Number: SCN 037

Format: On Campus (at Syracuse University)

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

Credit: Noncredit

Grading: Pass/Fail


  • Residential: $5,495
  • Commuter: $4,101

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 – On Campus: Experience what college is really like: take a college-level course, live in a residence hall, have meals with friends in a dining hall, and participate in activities and events on campus.

Syracuse University precollege aerospace student wearing a Summer College shirt

“The Aerospace Engineering course heightened my resolve to study engineering in college. It provided me with the perfect opportunity to study aerospace engineering before filling out my college applications. I now plan to apply for college with a major in mechanical and/or aerospace engineering. I would have most likely applied with an undeclared major if it were not for Syracuse University Summer College – Online.”

— Maia M., Summer College – Online Aerospace Engineering Student, 2020

Course Dates and Details

ProgramCourse DatesClass Time
(Eastern Time)
Summer College – On Campus3-Week Session I:
Monday, July 8 –
Friday, July 26, 2024
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Course Requirements

Required Textbooks & Supplies


  • The Simple Science of Flight – From Insects to Jumbo Jets, Henk Tennekes, The MIT Press, 2009

Instructions on how to order the textbook can be found here.


  • Students will be required to bring their laptop to class daily
  • Microsoft Office Suite (Microsoft Office download provided to enrolled students)

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

The course begins with basic engineering fundamentals and definition of SI units. Homework problems will confirm comprehension. We assign students to work together on team building with reports on specific readings and design problems.

Week 1 and 2:

The first two weeks will focus on Aerospace Engineering. We will examine the physics of fixed wing and rotating wing flight and rocket ships. The history of aviation developments from Leonardo da Vinci through present day to the future will be examined. Are drones in our future or will there be alternate winged vehicles?  Students will design, build, and fly a high-power rocket to a specific apogee with on-board altimeter, video recorder and “eggstronaut.”

Lab work includes: how planes fly, study of the Bernoulli Effect and wind tunnels, the first flight simulator (Link Trainer), and a modern flight simulator (Link Hall).

Week 3:

The last week applies fundamentals of aerodynamics learned in the first two weeks to the newsworthy topic of renewable energy. This section details the evolution of humans on the planet, their ever-changing energy demands, and subsequent impact on the environment. Students will learn about the physics of energy, relationships of force, work and power, and associated units – Newtons, Joules, and Watts. Non-renewable energy versus renewable energy is examined, as well as the need to address greenhouse gases and consequent climate change.

Detailed sessions on Hydro, Solar, Geothermal and Wind systems will be presented.

Lab work includes: the chemical reactions, and associated energy, of hydrogen fuel propelled vehicles. Small scale solar panels and wind turbines are similarly examined.

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College – On Campus activities to meet and connect with other students! Check out our On Campus Experience page for more information!

Field Trips

Weeks 1 and 2:

Potential field trips include: Flight and Space at the MOST (see Giant Screen movie Journey To Space), Control Tower at the Hancock International Airport, and one aviation museum visit to either Hammondsport Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, Elmira national Soaring Museum, or Geneseo National Warplane Museum.

Week 3:

Potential field trips include: visiting a Hydro power plant, a Solar Photovoltaic Farm, and a Wind Farm. Additional trips include visiting the energy exhibit at the Museum of Science & Technology (‘Powering the Future’) and the Onondaga County Waste-to-Energy.

End Event

There are two big events where family and parents can attend:

  • The mid-term: Aerospace Rocket Launch!
  • We conclude on the final day at the MOST to visit Flight and Space Exhibit and experience the Link Flight Simulator. In the afternoon, students watch a film – likely Mission to Space. Parents and family are welcome to attend providing admission costs. The Office of Pre-College Programs covers the student admission fee.

Instructor Bio

Dr. Peter Plumley – Research Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Peter Plumley is a Research Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Syracuse University. He is an Earth Scientist with an extensive background in computers and technology. Dr. Plumley’s research has been in the areas of plate tectonics and application of paleomagnetic techniques to regional tectonics. His most recent and active research is focused on educational issues of secondary students related to motivation and the Science of Learning. Dr. Plumley was responsible for development and implementation of K-12 outreach for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Students impacted by his outreach programs number approximately 2,000 students from middle schools (4th – 8th grade) per year and 2,100 high school students (9th – 12th grade) per year. Dr. Plumley was honored with “2003 College Educator of the Year,” by the Technology Alliance of Central New York and the 2011 Post-Standard Achievement Award for years of working to excite young people in Central New York about learning science and engineering. Dr. Plumley has designed and built two payloads carried to space on NASA Sounding rockets. He is the SU coordinator for Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) for education and research.