Program Overview


This summer pre-college program for high school students offers a highly visual, non-mathematical introduction to computer programming and animation. The vehicle is the Alice development environment, which allows students without prior experience to rapidly create 3D virtual worlds like those seen in animations and video games. Alice programmers choose environments, populate them with features, creatures, and sounds, and animate these elements in simulated three-dimensional space to tell stories, play games, give interactive instructions, etc. Students become the masters of domains of their own creation.

Students will work in small teams to create virtual worlds for assignments and learn the principles of computer programming in the process. They will see the results of their efforts immediately. The goal of the program is to improve students’ skills in exact thinking, analysis/design, and problem-solving, while providing an enjoyable path to more formal study of computing and programming, and a foundation for utilizing professional 3D animation systems and game engines.

Program Objectives

  • Learn essential introductory computing concepts
  • Learn 3D animation basics using the Alice development environment
  • Learn fundamental concepts of programming languages
  • Learn how to accommodate events and user interaction for game development

Learn more about Computer Animation and Game Design:

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

Program Dates & Details

Session Dates

3-week Session I: June 29 – July 17, 2020
Duration: 3 weeks
Live (Synchronous) Session Times: MTWThF, 12:00pm – 2:20pm EST


Credit: Noncredit

Grading System: Pass/Fail

Program Capacity

Class Size

Class size is dependent on the number of enrolled students and the program capacity. Please email Summer College if you would like to know the number of students in this program.

Eligibility Requirements

Students must be of rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior status – or a 2020 high school graduate. No previous programming or animation experience is required; this program is therefore best suited to novices. However, animation novices who can already program in computer languages other than Java will benefit from learning the Alice language which, essentially, is Java. For full Summer College admission requirements, view the Admissions Overview and Eligibility page.

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Program Cost

Program Costs:

  • Online ONLY: $2,500

*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.  Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Requirements

Textbook Requirements

Alice 3 in Action: Computing Through Animation by Joel Adams
ISBN: 978-1-133-58922-8
Publisher: Cengage Learning, 2015

No source preference.

Technology Requirements

  • Reliable internet access
  • Access to a laptop or desktop computer with webcam

Specific details regarding the laptop are available here.  The minimum hardware recommendations are as follows:

  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB or more is strongly recommended, though not strictly required)
  • Graphics card capable of high (32 bit) color and at least 1024×768 resolution (a 3D video card gives faster performance, but is not required)

It is highly recommended that students download and try out the Alice software to ensure their laptops are powerful enough to run it effectively.

Student Expectations

  • 100% attendance
  • 0% lateness
  • Assignments (reading and programming) completed by their due dates and times
  • Timely utilization of virtual office hours to discuss course-related problems
  • Use of online Q&A facility if course-related difficulties are encountered outside of office hours
  • Good behavior in synchronous class (no disrespect, no disruptions, no distractions, no extra-curricular computer or cell phone usage, no side conversations, etc.)
  • Adherence to all pertinent conduct standards

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 synchronous 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

Students will be required to attend a live session class via videoconferencing for the three weeks, Monday – Friday from 12:00pm – 2:20pm EST.

Each day typically begins with a review of previous coverage and proceeds with coverage of new topics based on the reading assignment given the day before. Coverage includes demonstrations of the new concepts and play-alongs, which allow students to practice new techniques before having to apply them in daily homework assignments.

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College virtual activities to meet and connect with other students across the world. Check out our Virtual Events and Activities page for more information!

Faculty Bios

Dr. Robert J. Irwin

Dr. Irwin is a recently retired Syracuse University faculty member from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He has served as an assistant professor of computer science at SUNY Oswego, was visiting faculty at Hamilton College, and has also taught at Le Moyne College and Pace University. Prior to returning to academic life, Robert was a research engineer at TextWise, LLC. (natural language processing specialists in Syracuse), and the Director of Software Engineering for Applied Intelligence Systems, Inc. (an AI development firm in New York City). Irwin was also a member of the research staff at Riverside Research Institute and a project manager at Merrill Lynch in New York City. His chief research interests lie in theoretical computer science, and he has published in the areas of generalized dynamical systems, high-order theory of computation and complexity, and artificial intelligence.