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Techbridges – Ahn Instructional Design and Technology


Techbridges 2.0

A Summer Program for 21st Century Skills and STEAM Career Readiness

July 16-29, 2016

The two-week Techbridges 2.0 program is designed to provide high school and college students with an inspiring, hands-on experience in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). The program will focus on career readiness and 21st Century skill development, including:

  • technology literacy
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • critical thinking
  • cross-cultural fluency
  • entrepreneurship

Students will be exposed to a wide range of eye-opening experiences with an agenda comprising interactive project-based activities; teaching, training and guest lectures from industry professionals, university professors, alumni and current students; site visits to technology labs or companies; and design, production and research activities. These activities will culminate in a final group project in which students will design and develop a game or interactive media tool that addresses a social issue or problem.

Why STEAM and 21st Century Skills?

Art, technology, and design are drivers of innovation in the 21st Century world economy. Careers increasingly demand first-rate skills in programming, design and other digital literacies. Many of today’s students are not adequately prepared with the skills and mindset needed to be successful in this world or in college admissions. Others do not have a broad perspective on the world and the career possibilities open to them.

This program is strategically designed to reach students while they are still in high school, or early in their college career. Having the opportunity to see and experience examples of technology in action and to shadow and talk to professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) can have a profound impact on their futures, preparing them to lead successful, productive lives.


Columbia University

in the City of New York

Total “Columbia” Experience

Columbia Dormitory

Techbridges 2.0 students will live in a one or two-person dormitory room with shared bathrooms on each floor. The dormitory building includes a laundry room, shared kitchen and common area. Program workshops and group work sessions will often be held in the dormitory. Only a short distance to classrooms and the dining hall, it is very safe to walk on campus throughout the day.

Columbia Dining Hall

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served in the Columbia dining hall during the week (Monday through Friday). During the weekends, students will explore the many popular dining options close to campus; there are also take-out service and catering options available.

Columbia Classrooms & Faculty

All of the lecturers and staff member in the Techbridges 2.0 program are current or former Columbia university professors and students. With the exception of site visits and workshops, most lectures take place on the Columbia campus.

Columbia ID Cards

All Techbridges 2.0 students will receive an official Columbia University ID card. The card can be used to access the residential dormitory, classrooms, and dining hall.

Summary of Program Goals

  • Develop 21st Century skills in students, along with an increased understanding of what is necessary to succeed in today’s digital economy.
  • Present a broad overview of both digital and non-digital educational technologies including simulations, online tools, games and mobile apps.
  • Listen to and interact with first-rate speakers including Ivy League and Columbia University professors and industry professionals.
  • Design, develop and present a final student project that may be included in resumes and portfolios (a valuable asset for college applications).
  • Expose students to a well-rounded, diverse NYC experience that takes advantage of many of the best aspects of the city: premier academic institutions, world-class arts and design communities, Fortune 500 technology companies, etc.
  • Inspire student to consider Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) careers.

The Three Main “Tracks”

Techbridges 2.0 consists of three main tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship; Game Design; and Development, Programming and Coding (see specific topics covered below). The program will cover a broad range of STEAM topics from which students can choose a specialty track to further explore in depth. This may include talking to experts and current students in the specific field, skill development workshops and other breakout sessions to further enhance a student’s interest in a given track. Final project teams will have at least one member from each track to ensure a well-rounded presentation and pitch.

Business & Entrepreneurship

Topics include, but not limited to:

  • Business Plan
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Developing Business Canvas
  • Financial Projections

Game Design

  • Game Mechanics
  • Game Dynamics
  • Game Aesthetics
  • Design

Development, Programming and Coding

  • Programming for web
  • Mobile Programming
  • Framework


Final Project

Students will work in small groups of four or five with at least one student from each specialty track. The final project will include a game demo addressing the topic and theme provided during the course of the program. Each group will present its game to a panel of judges who are experts in game design, business and technology. The top teams will earn recognition as well as seed funding, guidance and mentorship by professionals to further develop their games.

Certificate of Completion

A certificate of completion will be provided at the end of the two-week course. Recommendation letters will be available upon request at the end of the program.

Learning what makes a game fun and addicting! OR Learning what makes games fun and addicting!

Game design thinking. Iterations again & again.

Lots of collaboration and teamwork.

Play-testing. Does this look fun?

Final game projects and presentations.

Final competition and the winner.


Top Five Reasons for Coming

  • Explore the HOT industries of entrepreneurship, game design and computer programming
    • See what you can do in college and real world in these fields
    • Talk and network with current students, alumni, professors and industry professionals
  • Experience Columbia University
    • See first-hand what life is like at an Ivy League institution
    • Columbia dormitory, dining hall, classroom, professors and mentors… Enough said!
  • Gain a competitive advantage in college admissions
    • Develop a portfolio as part of CAAS* (see below for more information)
    • Demonstrate interest in cutting-edge fields
  • Be inspired
    • Learn what it takes to succeed from successful people (while visiting their companies like Google and Facebook!)
    • See and hear stories from mentors (e.g., overcoming challenges)
  • Have fun
    • Game design, game dynamics, game mechanics… game…
    • Interact with students from various backgrounds

Facebook campus visit and writing on their (real) wall!

@Google campus; having a lecture & tour there!

* Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success (CAAS)

Eighty colleges, including the Ivy League schools, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago, have joined together to create a new application and portfolio platform for high school students. The new platform will be available beginning in the summer of 2016 and will include three new initiatives:

  1. High school student portfolio: Starting in the 9th grade, students will be expected to add their best work, including extra-curricular activities.
  2. College and high school interaction: Colleges will be able to view the portfolio and provide advice.
  3. A new application system: Many questions will provide links to the content of the portfolio.

In summary: Developing a meaningful portfolio is becoming increasingly important in top college admissions.


Joey Lee (Professor)

PhD, Research Professor of Technology and Education

Columbia University

Joey J. Lee is a Research Assistant Professor of Technology and Education. He designs, develops and studies games and game-like experiences for education and social impact. His projects include both digital and non-digital games for climate change education, science education, motivation, identity formation and cross-cultural education. He directs the Real-World Impact Games Lab at Columbia University.

Sam Ahn (Program Director)

EdM, EdD candidate in Technology and Education

Columbia University

Sam is an educator, designer and entrepreneur. He loves to mentor students; he has successfully guided hundreds of students in matriculating to top colleges and programs. He is an expert in education and has years of experience with startups.

Complete Application. Deadline: Rolling for Local NYC students

Apply Now!

  • Course Info & Schedule
  • Activities & Visits
  • Tuition & Deadlines
Course Info & Schedule

Course Information

The main lecture of game design is an actual graduate level course at Columbia University redesigned for high school students.

Program dates:

July 16-29, 2016

Skills workshop (coding)

Sample Day Schedule

8-9 AM Breakfast (Columbia University Dining Hall)
9-12 Lecture / Class (Columbia University or at designated company)
12-1 PM Lunch (Columbia University Dining Hall)
1-4 PM Skill workshops (coding, design, and business tracks)
4-5 PM Free time
5-6:30 PM Dinner
6:30-8 PM Activities (e.g. college nights, seminars, games, and other fun/educational things!)

Sample Program Schedule * (tentative and order subject to change depending on company visit scheduling, etc.)

Week 1
Day 1 Check-in &
Day 2 Scavenger Hunt and other ice-breaking activities; Intro to games and 21st century skills
Day 3 Game MDA (mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics); group game testing and playing
Day 4 Effective Communication; workshops and group work
Day 5 Flow Theory and Fun; Intro to business, programming and design tracks
Day 6 Case studies; company visits

How to get into top colleges workshop

Day 7 Minimum viable products

NYC tours

Week 2
Day 8 Emerging Technologies workshop;

Lab work

Day 9 Business model, canvas and development; Elevator pitches;

Skill development

Day 10 Motivation; Gamification and other recent topics discussion;

Final group work

Day 11 Case studies; Company visits

Co-working space visits;

Mentoring Night

Day 12 Final group work and play testing
Day 13 Final Project Pitch & Presentation; Graduation and Certificate awarding ceremony
Day 14 Check-out & Departure
Activities & Visits

Company Visits

From large tech companies (e.g., Google, Facebook) to smaller startups in the “Silicon Alley,” Techbridge 2.0 students have the opportunity to meet and interact with industry professionals. In 2015, some program workshops and lectures took place on the Google and Facebook campuses. After doing company and market research, students had the opportunity to be the “CEO of the Day” by discussing key strategies and decisions. Many students pointed out after the program that these visits were highly inspiring.

Similar visits are planned for 2016!

Social Graph demo @Facebook campus

Lecture @Facebook campus

Software workshop @Google Campus

Discussion with a startup CEO in business strategy

Scavenger Hunt in Central Park

One of the first program activities is a game that takes place in Central Park. Students roam through this great urban park on a hot summer day getting to know teammates and learning many unusual things about the park (yes, even those who are New Yorkers!).

A student completing a mission

A team mission

New York City Tour

Find out why New York City is the greatest city in the world and learn first-hand why Columbia University has such a low admission rate. Not only is it a world-class ivy League institution it is located in New York City. Academic and fun activities are abundant!

Bull Run near Wall Street

Crossing Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan view

Tuition & Deadlines

Application & Registration Detail

Dates July 16 – 29, 2016

Program Cost – includes tuition and classroom supplies/materials

  • Residential – $5,590 (includes: Columbia University housing, 3 meals each day and sponsored trips and activities within NYC)
  • Commuter – $4,250 *

Application Requirement

  • Application
  • Demonstrated interested in STEAM
  • Personal Essay
  • For International students:
    • minimum TOEFL score of 90+;
    • attending English-language based school last 2+ years; OR
    • Skype interview is required if above requirements are not met
  • Copy of most recent transcript (unofficial)

Application deadline:

  • Residential (May 31, 2016)
  • Commuter (Rolling)


* Need-based financial aid is provided. Must provide documentation and complete additional section of the application.


Q: Will this program help a participant get into Columbia University?


There is no one single program that will help a student gain admission to a top-tier institution like Columbia University. However, more and more colleges are looking for demonstrated interest and passion towards what students want to pursue in college and beyond. This is what the Techbridges 2.0 program is trying to instill amongst participants. By building up a portfolio, students will increase their chances of gaining admission to prestigious universities as long as they continue to pursue these interests in depth with the guidance and mentoring of program leaders.

Q: Does the program provide visa for international students?

A: No. The program does not provide visas. Most students come on a travel visa since the program is only two weeks long. An invitation letter can be provided for students who need and request it.

Q: What skills are needed to participate in one of the three tracks?

A: Students need some basic skill level or an interest in or passion for learning more about the specific track. The Techbridges 2.0 program is more about exploration and learning about career possibilities. As much skill development as possible within a two-week program will be achieved.

Q: Would students come earlier or stay longer after the program ends?

A: On a case-by-case basis, students may be accommodated for an extra day or two, if circumstances warrant. For example:

  • Gap days between previous/subsequent summer program (e.g., attending a camp in NYC as in international student two days after Techbridges 2.0 ends);
  • Extra mentoring and guidance to continue working on project development;
  • International travel schedules to/from the program

Please note that there will be additional costs of $190 per day for arranging accommodation with a chaperone. There may also be additional costs for food travel, etc. If Columbia University dormitory rooms are not available, alternative housing, with chaperoning, will be arranged.

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