Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Acronyms abound at WPI and within Worcester’s (pronounced Woos-ter) unique “WPI Plan”. WPI’s 4,600 undergraduate students (and 2,200 graduate students) are always involved in at least one team-based project. Whether it’s working on their requirements called IQP’s, MQP’s, GPS, or HUA, students are collaborating and using their interdisciplinary skills both on campus and around the globe to try and solve the world’s complicated problems.
Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, WPI has six, 7-week terms: four in the traditional academic year, and two in an optional summer term. In each term, students take only three courses, allowing for in-depth engagement along with space for open-ended projects. There are no failing grades at WPI: you either earn an A, B, or C, or “No Record”. This allows students to branch out and explore across disciplines. However, a course required by a student’s major would need to be repeated if a C or better is not earned.
The Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) is a signature element of the WPI Plan, giving every student the experience of working in interdisciplinary teams to solve a problem. This nine-credit-hour requirement involves students working in teams, with students not in their major, to tackle an issue that relates to science, engineering, and technology to society.
A significant portion of a student’s senior year is spent on the MQP (Major Qualifying Project), a capstone project requiring students to demonstrate their real-world research, design, and problem-solving skills. The MQP helps them put the theory of what they have learned into practice to tackle real-life scenarios and issues. These projects are often sponsored by corporations or other external organizations, and position students to stand out in the applicant pool.
Through WPI’s Humanities and Arts Requirement (HUA) and Great Problems Seminar (GPS), students acquire broad-based skills that complement and enhance the technical side of their WPI education. Students have the option to complete the HUA Requirement at select off-campus project center locations through the Global Projects Program.
Social life is usually a good mix of on- and off-campus activities. Student-organized events such as game nights, concerts, improv shows, movies, and weekend Sox or Pats game-watching parties and Greek functions are popular. Thirty-three percent of men join fraternities and 36 percent of women join sororities. WPI has one of the largest music programs among technological universities, with well over 300 students participating in 22 musical and theatrical groups.
Worcester is not known for being the most picturesque city in Massachusetts, but Forbes Magazine rates it as the 9th most liveable one. Worcester offers a large number of clubs and restaurants, an art museum, and a large arena hosting concerts and sporting events. Additionally, with 38,000 college students in the area and nearby colleges such as Clark and Holy Cross linked to WPI through shuttle buses, there are plenty of social and academic opportunities to be found. Boston and Hartford are both within an hour's drive, as are ski resorts and beaches.
The WPI Engineers compete in Division III sports and field 20 competitive teams and 30 club sports. Women’s rowing came in second in the 2019 National championship, and men's rowing claimed a regional championship in 2017. Men's and women's swimming and diving and men's cross-country and basketball are also competitive. More than half of the student body participates in intramural and recreational sports.
WPI’s flexible curriculum is tailored to students’ interests but offers expert guidance from both faculty and career service department every step of the way.
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