Frequently Asked Questions
When and where is the Summer School held?
The Summer School will be held at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, from June 28–July 17, 2020.
What about COVID-19?
We are closely monitoring federal agencies' recommendations to plan for a safe event. At this time, health departments have not requested the cancellation of any gatherings of our size as the current risk of person-to-person spread remains low. We are proceeding with the Wolfram Summer School 2020 with the health and safety of our students and staff as our top priority.
What is the cancellation policy?
You can cancel your registration before May 1 for a full refund. Cancellations due to the rapidly changing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation will be fully refunded up to the start of the Summer School. Should the COVID-19 situation require cancellation of the Wolfram Summer School, Wolfram will work to provide alternate options.
Are there age limits for Summer School students?
No. We have had a few exceptional high-school-age students, as well as a few energetic individuals late in their careers. Students are generally college graduates and postdocs, except for the Educational Innovation track, where they can be at any stage in their career. If you will be under the age of 18 as of June 28, 2020, you will need to apply to the Wolfram High School Summer Camp program. We will then assess your level and ability to join the Wolfram Summer School.
What is involved in doing a project at the Summer School?
Students are each assigned a project mentor. Projects almost invariably involve computer experiments programmed in the Wolfram Language. At the end of the Summer School, students present their projects individually.
How are the projects at the Summer School chosen?
Projects are chosen to fit the career and educational objectives of each student. Students are encouraged to think about potential projects before the Summer School (see projects from past years for some suggestions). Final projects are chosen during the first week of the Summer School, in consultation with Stephen Wolfram and with the student's mentor.
What is Stephen Wolfram's involvement in the Summer School?
The school is set up so that every student has an opportunity to interact with Stephen Wolfram. Stephen Wolfram usually does one or two individual meetings with each student, works on picking projects, participates in many group discussions and offers ongoing suggestions about projects. He also gives lectures on strategic topics and attends student presentations.
How long is the Summer School?
The school is three weeks long. Students need to attend for the duration.
How much does the Summer School cost?
The Summer School itself is free—there is no tuition fee. Dorm-style accommodations, meal plans and facility fees for the three-week session will cost approximately $2,400.
Is financial support available for the Summer School?
There is no stipend available. In a few cases of exceptional need, financial aid may be approved to help pay for accommodations, meal plans and facility fees. In the future, some additional funding may be available.
Can I get documentation to confirm my participation?
Attendees will need to complete the application process on their own, but we do provide a "letter of invitation" that describes the nature of the event for the purpose of applying for a visitor visa and to show to Customs and Border Protection officers when applying for admission as a visitor upon arrival to the US.
Do I need to have a computer?
Every student at the Summer School needs to bring a reliable laptop. Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems are all acceptable. Built-in wireless networking capability is required. Software for computation and collaboration at the Summer School will be provided.
What criteria are used for selecting students?
We're looking for people for whom the Summer School can really make a difference and can help launch them into doing important work. We like to see evidence of an ability to carry out a project to a high level of quality.
Have any Summer School students gone on to work for Wolfram Research?
Yes, some of our most talented attendees have been offered positions at Wolfram Research.
Will transportation be provided on arrival/departure dates?
No, you will be responsible for getting yourself to and from campus. We will set up a communication system to help you find other students and staff who are traveling around the same time you will be.
Will there be access to a gym?
Yes, the Bentley Dana Athletic Center hours will be announced closer to your arrival date.
Do I need to stay on campus?
Yes, we require all students and staff to stay on campus; this ensures you get the most out of the program and time with the mentors.
What kind of meals are offered in the dining hall?
Bentley has improved their options over the past few years. They now include plant-based and gluten-free options, and you may always ask to have a dish made a certain way if you have any food allergies.
Do I need to purchase the three-a-day meal plan?
No, you may opt out of the three-a-day meal plan. You will be invited to participate in the welcome dinner, but all other meals will be excluded. Each dorm suite has a small kitchenette where you may cook your own meals. You will need to provide your own food in this instance.
Will I be able to do laundry?
Yes, the dorm has laundry machines in the basement. The payment method to use the machines is through the LaundryConnect Pay app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play. After loading an initial balance either via debit or credit card, students can activate the laundry equipment using their smartphones' existing Bluetooth capabilities. Payment for the machines can only be done through the app.
Who is the Science track for?
It's intended for anyone who wants to be able to do Wolfram Science research projects. We expect students to be ready to do an independent research project, but they can be at various stages in their formal education. We typically have graduate students, undergraduates, postdocs and a few professors, teachers and professionals.
What happens at the Summer School?
It's a mixture of lectures, individual interactions with instructors and a project. Each student is expected to do a substantial Wolfram Science research project, which will be at least the beginning of material suitable for a published paper.
What preparation is needed?
Students should have a working knowledge of the Wolfram Language, which is used as the primary tool at the Summer School. All students are strongly suggested to have read A New Kind of Science (NKS) at least once. Under special circumstances, arrangements can be made for students to take an online class in Mathematica, the software based on the Wolfram Language, before the Summer School.
Does the Summer School cater only to scientists?
No. Our students have also included engineers, artists and educators. What's needed is an ability to take a rigorous scientific approach and an ability to absorb material of the type that is in the NKS book.
Wolfram Technology & Innovation
Who is the Technology & Innovation track for?
It's intended for anyone interested in developing innovative ideas and implementing them with technology. We expect students to be technology savvy, but they can be at various stages in their formal education or careers. We expect college and graduate students, as well as early- and mid-career individuals ready to energetically pursue innovation. We encourage entrepreneurs to apply.
Is the Innovation track an incubator program?
Our goal at the Summer School is to help students learn how to develop innovative ideas and implement them with technology. We expect students will often use their knowledge in entrepreneurial business activities, and for students who are interested, mentoring on business issues will be available.
Wolfram Education Innovation
Who is the Education Innovation track for?
It is intended for individuals who want to make a difference in education by taking what they learn about developing educational materials and products with the Wolfram Language and helping to make programming in education accessible to everyone. This track is suited to educators, people studying education and individuals with experience in education technology.
For International Students
What language is used at the Summer School?
All instruction, workshops, exercises and homework will be provided in English.
If I am coming from a different country, do I need to apply for a visa?
For those applying for B1 visa stamps at a US embassy or consulate, Wolfram will provide a "letter of invitation" explaining the nature of the "Summer School Program" and demonstrating that it qualifies as legitimate business travel to the US. Please note that this letter will not guarantee issuance of the B1 visa, as there are many factors the US consular officials must consider before approving a visa, and the officer's decision to approve B1 classification is highly discretionary. We recommend applying well ahead of your planned travel date (check the US consulate for where you live to see current visa appointment wait times here) and that you follow the US embassy or consulate's website instructions very carefully and comply with all requests for information and documentation. (If you encounter difficulties while applying, please email our senior immigration counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. For those utilizing the Visa Waiver Program to travel to the US as a business visitor, please ensure you have a valid approval for ESTA that will cover your period of stay. The Wolfram Summer School is not an academic school, and you are actually attending a business conference, so please keep this in mind when you go through immigration and customs upon arrival. Further, you may reach out to our senior immigration counsel at email@example.com with any questions regarding your travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program.)