Founded in 1865, WPI is a private technology-oriented university, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, with around 3,500 undergraduate students, 800 graduate students, and 220 full-time faculty members. WPI students pursue degree programs in engineering, the sciences, the humanities, and management. All WPI undergraduates must complete a third-year interdisciplinary research project called the “Interactive Qualifying Project,” or IQP. More than 50% of students go off campus to conduct their IQPs and to co-ordinate these activities WPI has established over thirty “project centers” in Europe, Central and North America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region. Projects cover an enormous range of topics and sponsors include national and local government agencies, museums, service organizations, community groups, and other non-profit organizations.
Nantucket Project Center
WPI established the Nantucket Project Center in 2008. The projects cover a wide variety of topics such as energy conservation, private roads, museum studies, beach erosion, facilities management, and affordable housing. These projects may not look like appropriate topics for budding engineers or scientists. Indeed, they are specifically designed to push our students beyond their comfort zone and to challenge them to think about technical problems in a larger social, cultural, and political context.
The projects (and the entire student experience on the Island) offer wonderful, real-world opportunities for WPI students and provide Nantucket with valuable data and perspectives on pressing problems. WPI hopes to build and maintain a long and fruitful symbiotic relationship with the Nantucket community. We anticipate that each year for many years to come a small number of WPI teams will explore a variety of projects designed to meet community needs and concerns as they arise.