Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- For other "Worcester Colleges," see Worcester College (disambiguation).
Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, informally: "Worcester Tech") was founded in 1865 as the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science by John Boynton, Ichabod Washburn, and Stephen Salisbury II.
Today a science and engineering university, WPI has an undergraduate enrollment of over 2,500 students.
WPI's project-based curriculum makes it unique by requiring undergraduate students to complete a Sufficiency in the Liberal Arts, an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) to study the social effects of technology with students from other disciplines, and a Major Qualifying Project (MQP) within their own discipline. These projects are based on WPI's founding principle of theory alongside practice.
Sufficiency in the Liberal Arts
To provide intellectual breadth and a better understanding of themselves, their cultures and their heritage, every student must complete a Humanities and Arts Sufficiency Project. Students majoring in a scientific or engineering field or in business management or the social sciences must fulfill this requirement in a humanities and arts area. Sufficiency projects generally consist of five thematically related courses concluded with an independent research project or, in the case of languages, an additional course.
Interactive Qualifying Project
To provide an understanding of the priorities of other sectors of society, develop the ability to communicate effectively with disparate groups, organize and derive solutions to complex problems, and gain an awareness of the interrelationships between technology and people, every student must complete an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). Consisting of independent study, often in a team environment, and equating to three courses in terms of work and credit, it may be performed on-campus or at one of many global project centers.
An IQP shall address a topic relating science and/or technology to society. In this context, both "society" and "technology" should be construed as broadly as possible. Technology refers to the application of rational and efficient principles to a body of knowledge or to the control of space, matter and/or human beings. Thus, the IQP encompasses not only techniques of production embodied in tools and machines, but also advances in methods of social and economic organization, in managerial techniques, and in methods of analysis in science, mathematics, and engineering. Society refers not only to a grouping of individuals but also to the culture, values, laws, customs, and institutions shared by these individuals.
Major Qualifying Project
To provide a capstone experience in the professional discipline, to develop creativity, instill self-confidence and enhance the ability to communicate ideas and synthesize fundamental concepts, every student must complete a Major Qualifying Project (MQP). This consists of an independent team-oriented project equivalent in credit to three courses of work. It may be performed on-campus or at one of several project centers around the globe.
WPI's best-known alumnus is Robert Goddard, who graduated in 1908 and is widely regarded as the Father of Modern Rocketry. Another successful graduate is Robert Stempel, inventor of the catalytic converter and former Chairman and CEO of General Motors. A third important alumni is Harold S Black who revolutionized electronics by inventing negative feedback in 1921. WPI is also known for its famous drop-outs. Dean Kamen, who left the school without finishing his degree, invented the first portable insulin pump and the Segway Human Transporter. Atwater Kent , who dropped out twice in the 1890s, went on to found the Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company which was the world's leading producer of radios in the late 1920s. In Japan, a famous alumnus is Koutaro Shimomura , chemical engineer. After graduating, he became president of Doshisha University and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
The term "gweep ," meaning one who hacks on a computer at night, originated at WPI.
WPI has a secret honor society known as Skull.
Usenet flaming is said to have originated at WPI in arguments over computer time. WPI currently maintains wpi.flame.
Male-only school until 1968. The current male:female ratio is approximately 3:1.
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