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Jul. 12, 2012 11:30 am

Drexel’s Summer Music Technology program turns high schoolers into musical engineers

Now in its sixth year, the week-long summer program, lead by Drexel professor Dr. Youngmoo Kim, brings teenagers onto Drexel's campus to learn about the intersection of engineering, technology and music through hands-on projects.

Incoming tenth grader Justin Mitchell works on building a tiny synthesizer. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

At Drexel University’s Summer Music Technology Program (SMT) for high schoolers, the schedule looks a little bit like this: Spend the morning using an iPad app to learn the properties of a soundwave. Break for lunch. Then, build a guitar distortion pedal or maybe some speakers.

Yeah, we were jealous. And intimidated.

Now in its sixth year, the week-long summer program, lead by Drexel professor Dr. Youngmoo Kim, brings teenagers onto Drexel’s campus to learn about the intersection of engineering, technology and music through hands-on projects.

Kim says he created SMT because music can be a good entry point to technology. Not everyone thinks they like engineering or technology, but music? Everyone likes music, he says.

Ph.D., undergraduate and high school students working in Kim’s Music and Entertainment Technology Laboratory (MET-Lab) for the summer act as instructors. They also help to develop and plan the curriculum. They even developed a number of iOS apps specifically for the program.

It’s a a good way for graduate students to see the impact of what they’re doing in the lab, Kim says.

One major change to this year’s session is that Kim decided to provide participants with iPads instead of the old laptops the students had used in previous years.

Kim says he’s searching for local support in order to make the program sustainable. SMT was funded as part of an National Science Foundation grant, which ends this year.

The free program accepts 20 students every year, though Kim says he usually gets three or four times as many applications. He says doesn’t want to start charging for it because he doesn’t want price to exclude any students.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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