Virtual Academy for Robotics

  • We are excited to bring you a special online edition of the Texas Computer Science Summer Academy for Robotics for 2021! There are many fantastic software tools that we use both for programming real robots and for simulating robots in research labs both at UT Austin and elsewhere.  **Please note, session one is now full.  We have a few spots open in session two.**

Please check back soon for the 2022 Academy dates


Where/when is the Academy?

The Academy for Robotics will be held virtually, wherever in the world you are!  Hours of instruction are in Central Standard Time:  Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.  There will be an optional evening session from 7-8 p.m.  Students will spend daytime hours working on projects and will have access to academy counselors who can answer questions and help them with their projects throughout the evening.

Who Can Attend?

The academy is open to students going into 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades. 

What will we be doing?

Attendees can look forward to:

  • Robotics projects carried out in simulation, using tools used in robotics research like Gazebo
  • Learning to program in the C++ programming language
  • Experimenting with the basic controls of a wheeled robot, implementing PID control, and competing against other students in a race to see whose robot is the fastest
  • Talks from UT professors and other robotics professionals
  • Meeting with the UT admissions team and hearing about ways to make your UT college application stand out among the rest
  • Interacting with other students who enjoy technology as much as you do
  • Above all, having fun!

We will be using the same tools leveraged for online instruction of CS 309: Freshman Research Initiative - Autonomous Robots in the instruction of this academy. We are planning a similar set of exercises to those we do in the in-person version of the academy, only in simulation. Students can look forward to working through a set of online modules with the aid and supervision of counselors who have been researching with Dr. Justin Hart at UT Austin.

Modules include:

  • An introduction to Linux
  • An introduction to C++, appropriate for all levels of programming experience
  • Running the simulated robot
  • Exploring how the robot moves
  • Experiments on the robot’s sensors, including obstacle detection and line following
  • Exploring the turn & push behavior from Grey Walter’s tortoises, similar to as implemented on the Roomba vacuum cleaner
  • Line following and racing line followers
  • Bonus content for students who have extra time or wish to continue their exploration after the conclusion of the academy

Attendees will need a computer, a webcam + microphone, and internet access. We will distribute thumb drives a few weeks prior to academy to allow attendees to test the software on their machines and debug prior to academy. The drive will have a runnable Linux OS installed on it, but we will also provide resources allowing those with Linux machines at home to load our software locally on their machines. Minimum system requirements to be determined, though we have the objective of supporting as many platforms as possible.

Do I have to have previous robotics or programming experience?

No experience? No problem! It is necessary to be curious and interested in programming, computer science and artificial intelligence.


Dr. Justin Hart, assistant director of Texas Robotics and an assistant professor of practice with the College of Natural Sciences, the Department of Computer Science,  and the Learning Agents Research Group, will be teaching students how to build and program robots. Academy Directors, Tiffany Buckley and Mary Esther Middleton have worked for the Department of Computer Science for 15+ years on summer academies, admissions, enrollment, student organizations and diversity initiatives.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • You must be a high school student entering your freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year in fall 2021.

Cost of the Academy

  • Tuition for the academy is $799.

Cancellation and Refund policy

Prior to May 15 - Full refund minus a $50 deposit per session canceled.

May 16 - May 31 - You will receive 75% of your registration fee.

June 1 - June 15 - You will receive 50% of your registration fee.

After June 16 - No refunds will be given.


If you have financial need and would like to apply for a scholarship, please fill out this Scholarship Application by May 1. We will let you know if you are chosen by June 1.

Questions? Please contact Tiffany Buckley at


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