Course Overview

The Summer College Engineering program is one of Syracuse University’s premier summer programs for high school students. It 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. The Aerospace Engineering course examines 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? The course includes Mission to Mars. 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).

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.

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.

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 2022 high school graduate. 

Credit: Noncredit

Grading: Pass/Fail


  • Residential: $3,585
  • Commuter: $2,730

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 Campus2-Week Session II: Sunday, July 17 – Friday, July 29, 2022MTWThF;
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Students will have a break for lunch for approximately one hour each day. Class times subject to change.

Course Requirements

Required Textbooks & Supplies

  • Students will be required to bring their laptop to class daily
  • Microsoft Office Suite (Microsoft Office download provided to enrolled students)
  • Students should budget for the cost of required textbooks and supplies (can be purchased at the Syracuse University Campus store)

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

When not on field trips, a typical day involves lectures, demos, and team-building during the morning session, and hands-on work in the lab or field in the afternoon. Students will be problem-solving in groups, designing and building structures, and working with SU/ESF undergraduate/graduate students in various College of Engineering labs. When not in class, students will have homework, conduct additional assigned research/reading, and be expected to continue work on group projects.

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

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

End Event

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

  • The mid-term: Aerospace Rocket Launch! It is scheduled for Saturday, July 23, 2022 (subject to change)
  • 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. Summer College 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.

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