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Message from Provost Carol Simpson

As I reflect on my first full year as provost, I am struck by the extraordinary level of commitment from WPI’s faculty and staff, not only to significant advances in research and scholarship, but to the continual enhancement of our signature programs. For decades, WPI has led the way in developing interdisciplinary and global educational programs, and will continue to do so. This type of undergraduate experience is crucial for the next generation of leaders, thinkers, managers, and entrepreneurs.

For examples of WPI’s commitment to interdisciplinary education, I need look no further than the increasingly diverse nature of our unique Interactive Qualifying Projects. I also look to the creation of the highly successful Interactive Media and Game Development program, which sent forth its first graduate this year and is attracting a large number of new and enthusiastic students. And I look to the new Environmental Engineering degree program, which draws on faculty from the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics, and allows students to begin solving environmental problems rather than focus on the degree requirements of a specific disciplinary major.

I am excited to report that we have increased our undergraduate offerings to include System Dynamics and Aerospace Engineering; new graduate programs include Systems Engineering, Information Technology, and Operations Design and Leadership. Additionally, this year, for the first time, WPI will offer students the option of earning the bachelor of arts degree, an enhancement to our program approved by the faculty last spring. Preparations are also under way for new cross-disciplinary programs in bioinformatics and robotics engineering, both of which are areas of high demand from industry.

WPI’s interdisciplinary emphasis is mirrored in our research activities, since, so often, solutions to important societal problems require that teams of experts from several disciplines work together. This approach is the future of research at WPI. Its success was seen this year in our record-breaking $16.5 million in externally funded research grants, many of which involve interdisciplinary teams. (Such is the case in the Center for Untethered Health Care, where faculty from three departments—Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemistry and Biochemistry—cooperate to solve critical problems in the remote monitoring of patients.)

External recognition for the quality of WPI’s faculty research and scholarship comes in many forms:

This small selection of the many high honors and awards that WPI’s professors have received this year underscores the quality of our faculty and of our programs. I look forward to sharing more of their successes with you in future editions of Transformations.

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Last modified: Sep 28, 2006, 09:57 EDT
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