ICT Research Academy

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The Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) offers a 6-week summer research program for high school students in interactive virtual experiences. A multidisciplinary research institute affiliated with the University of Southern California, the ICT was established in 1999 to combine leading academic researchers in computing with the creative talents of Hollywood and the video game industry. Having grown to encompass a total of 150 faculty, staff, and students in a diverse array of fields, the ICT represents a unique interdisciplinary community brought together with a core unifying mission: advancing the state-of-the-art for creating virtual experiences so compelling that people will react as if they were real.

The ICT Research Academy is designed for Los Angeles area high school students (rising sophomores through seniors) who already have a track record of STEM commitment and engagement. Research Academy students will be placed in a research lab where the students will be integrated with ongoing research projects. The students will participate in many different facets of research while gaining valuable insight and experience. Each student will be paired with a research lab based on the student’s interests and the availability within the research lab. Additional activities of the ICT Research Academy include weekly seminars from researchers.The program will culminate with a poster session for the students to present their research.

Limited spaces are available this summer. This is a non-residential program, so students will commute daily from home.

  • Start Date: June 12, 2017
  • End Date: July 21, 2017*
  • Hours: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday
  • Cost: $3,000

* Students may opt to extend the time with their research lab by two weeks after the official end date for an additional $500 per weeek.


  • April 17, 2017 : Application deadline
  • By May 1, 2017: Acceptance notifications sent
  • May 21, 2017: Non-refundable deposit of $1,000 due
  • June 9, 2017: The balance of $2,000 is due

For questions or additional information, please contact: researchacademy@ict.usc.edu.

How to Pay

You may pay online or by check. Click here for more details.

How to Apply

Step 1: Application Form

Fill out the online application. You will be asked to upload the following documents as part of the application:

  • Unofficial High School Transcript
  • A 500 word personal statement. This may include your research interests and how you came to be interested in them, your previous research experiences, your reasons for wanting to participate in the research at the ICT, and how this participating in this experience might better prepare you to meet your future goals.

Step 2: Recommendation Letter

Request a teacher or mentor to email a letter of recommendation directly to researchacademy@ict.usc.edu.

Research Labs

Learning Sciences
The Learning Sciences Group applies evidenced-based learning principles, tutoring methods, and assessment techniques to improve computer-mediated instruction. Areas of research and application include instructional design, cognitive task analysis, intelligent tutoring, and the basic study of human memory and learning. Learn more.

Mixed Reality
MxR explores techniques and technologies to improve the fluency of human-computer interactions and create visceral synthetic experiences. Research and prototypes focus on immersive systems for education and training simulations that incorporate both real and virtual elements. Projects push the boundaries of immersive experience design, through virtual reality and alternative controllers. Learn more. Visit site.

Virtual Humans
The Virtual Humans group advances research in computer-generated characters that use language, have appropriate gestures, show emotion and react to verbal and non-verbal stimuli. Widely considered the most comprehensive research project of its kind, the ICT virtual human effort has applications in training and education and in furthering social science research. Learn more.

Vision and Graphics
The ICT Vision and Graphics Lab develops new techniques for creating and displaying photo-real computer graphics of people, objects and environments. Research areas include image-based lighting and 3D displays. The lab’s Light Stage systems for creating detailed digital doubles have been used in major motion pictures, earning the developers an Academy Award. Learn more. Visit site.