California School of the Arts

COSMOS Summer Program: A win for everyone involved

From music and technology to synthetic biology and robotics engineering, COSMOS has everything STEAM has to offer. This summer program is a four-week camp featured at four different college campuses: UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UC San Diego. There, high school students get the opportunity to live the life of a college dorm student, go to class with peers from all over the world and learn from college professors.

When I got accepted to COSMOS UC San Diego. I was more than a little nervous. Being away from my family for four weeks was a pretty long time. However, by the end of the month, I didn’t want to go back to my normal life. I learned so many new skills such as working a laser cutter, simulating theories with Working Model 2D, and drawing in AutoCAD. Unlike regular school, COSMOS provided the enrichment and hands-on experience of a real college course.

Beyond the academics, I would still highly recommend the experience of living in a college dorm. It was a surreal experience staying with two other roommates from across the state, and getting to know so many different people in such a short amount of time.

In San Diego, we also got to tour the Safari Park, Balboa Park and Gliderport. Each cluster has its own unique field trips as well.

“I believe programs like COSMOS are fantastic. It allows young students to explore areas they are interested in at an early age,” said Louis Penida, a father of a college student at USC who is an alumnus of COSMOS.

Because his son was in COSMOS, “Cluster 1: Computers in Everyday Life,” his son decided to major in Computer Science. Penida wished there was a program like COSMOS that could have helped himself before college, as he went to UC San Diego undecided.

Not only did COSMOS helped Penida’s son decide on a major, it also contributed to his acceptance into USC. “My son used COSMOS in a lot of his essay. He showed the reader that he had sacrificed most of his summer to pursue computer science during COSMOS. My son actually wrote that his project did not work, but because he learned so much, it didn’t feel like a failure,” Penida said.

Dr. Charles Tu, the director of COSMOS, was one of the professors teaching “Cluster 5: From Lasers to LCDs; Light At Work.” He found the experience fun and enriching to teach “good and smart students,” Dr. Tu said. “Each time it’s a different experience.” Many of his students would walk into his program already knowing how to program, so he needed to make the adjustment to meet the needs of today’s students.  

Students, parents and professors will find something to take out of this month-long experience. Dr. Tu said it best at the last speech of the summer, “At high school, you live with your family. At COSMOS, you live with your friends.”