Program Overview

New for 2020! This two-week summer program will introduce students to the many aspects of astrobiology and bioengineering through lectures, workshops, field trips, hands-on lab activities, and projects. The course starts with an interdisciplinary examination on the physical, biological, chemical and geological properties of potential extraterrestrial habitats and their Earth analogs, with a focus on the engineering technology involved. This biophysiochemical understanding provides the basis for the search of biomarkers on potential extinct or extant life. Topics include Earth’s extremophiles, Earth and exoplanet habitability, life detection technologies, origin of life, and technology for the detection of biomarkers. Students work in teams to solve real-life multifaceted astrobiology problems using engineering principles. Students will perform a simulated exobiological sampling to search for life, design and prototype a simulated Mars Rover.

Program Objectives

As a result of successful course completion, students will:

  • Obtain a broad exposure to astrobiology and related bioengineering principles.
  • Appreciate the use of engineering principles and scientific methods in the search of biomarkers
  • Obtain hands-on skills in characterizing environmental microorganisms and building a robotic car
  • Build a mathematical, geological, physical, biological and chemical foundation in astrobiology
  • Exhibit good teamwork skills and serve as effective members of project teams

Engineering Track

Interested in learning more about the field of engineering? Summer College students can choose an additional engineering program in a consecutive session and receive 10% off both sessions. Choose two additional engineering programs and receive 15% off all three sessions (Scholarship and Financial Aid will apply to each program attended). Or build your own track and explore even more of what Syracuse University has to offer!

Session I: June 27 – July 10: Civil & Environmental Engineering or Astro-Bioengineering: Searching for the Limit of Life

Session II: July 11 – July 24: Aerospace Engineering or Biomedical Engineering: Engineering the Human Machine

Session III: July 25 – August 7: Renewable & Alternative Energy Engineering

 View all programs by session date to build your own track!

Learn more about Astro-Bioengineering:

Program Dates & Details Eligibility Requirements Program Cost Program Requirements Typical Day Faculty Bio

Program Dates & Details

Session Dates

Session I: June 27 – July 10, 2020
Duration: 2-weeks


Credit: Noncredit
Grading System: Pass/Fail

Eligibility Requirements

Preferred rising Juniors and Seniors. Students should have interest in math, engineering, or health and life sciences. Students must be a minimum of 15 years of age by the orientation and move-in date. For full Summer College admission requirements, view the Admissions Overview and Eligibility page.

Apply Now!

Program Cost

Program Cost:

  • Residential: $3,560
  • Commuter: $2,746

*Please visit our Program Costs page for more detailed information. Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees in March.  Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Requirements

Student Expectations

Students must:

  • Attend to all academic requirements
  • Be on time for all sessions
  • Be attentive and engaged
  • Respect rules and policies related to visiting and use of University labs
  • Respect rules and policies when visiting healthcare facilities
  • Complete all academic requirements

This is an academically rigorous, college-level program. Students are expected to complete nightly homework assignments and actively participate in group projects. Students are expected to attend all classes every day, arrive on time, and meet all academic obligations. Free time will vary as each program is unique, as is the subsequent workload.

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

A typical day is as followed:

  • 09:00 – 09:30 Introduction of program
  • 09:30 – 10:00 Ice breaking
  • 10:00 – 11:00 Lecture: Origin of life
  • 11:00 – 12:00 Lab: Basic laboratory techniques (pipetting, cell culture)
  • 12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00 – 14:00 Lecture: Planetary environments for life’s origin
  • 14:00 – 15:30 Lab: Abiological synthesis of small molecules relevant to life
  • 15:30 – 17:00 Introduction to project

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College trips and activities. Check out our Campus Activities page for more information!

Field Trips

Field sampling include various campus locations within walking distance. Students will practice environmental sampling techniques to characterize the local microbial populations throughout week 1 and 2 within the campus. Possible sites include soil, pond, flower bed, etc. On the first Friday, students will take an off-campus field trip to a location (to be determined) to perform a simulated exobiological sampling to search for life.

End Event

July 10 1:00 – 3:00 Project showcase and presentation | Mars Rover demonstration

Parents are invited. In the Mars rover project, students will build a Mars Rover (basically a robotic car) with functionalities to move around obstacles autonomously and scoop up soil for analysis. A simulated Mars Yard will be created as a testing field.

Final Academic Obligation

Students are permitted to leave on Friday, July 10 upon the completion of the last class. If students have any questions regarding their final academic obligation, we encourage them to reach out to their instructor. Please refer to the Move-Out page for important information regarding the checkout process.

Faculty Bio

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

Douglas Yung is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at Syracuse University and the Director for the Bioengineering undergraduate program. He earned his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from UCLA in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Caltech in 2008. He worked as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on sensor development, microfluidics, and bacterial spore viability. He joined the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as an assistant professor in 2009. Douglas has long been intrigued by the interfacing of microbes with engineering tools on a micro- and nano-scale. He is unraveling methods to rapidly assess the viability of superbugs and harness energy from extremophiles using a combination of electrochemical, optical techniques and MEMS devices. He is an advocate of a hybrid teaching and learning environment replete with project-based hands-on work, experiential activities and peer collaboration, a style departing from traditional top-down expository pedagogies.