Wire, Vol. 10, No. 3 - Fall 1996

Global Opportunities Fair

Adjunct Associate Professor Susan Vernon-Gerstenfeld, who directs the Costa Rica Project Program, joined students who had completed projects in that country during WPI's Global Opportunities Fair. Alden Memorial was festooned with posters and flags and filled with tables of information about program sites throughout the world where WPI students may study or complete their Interactive Qualifying Projects. This year's fair attracted more than 500 undergraduates.

Career Development Fair

Nearly 100 companies took part in the Career Development Center's fourth annual Career Fair on Sept. 18 in Harrington Auditorium. Allmerica Financial, Andersen Consulting, The Foxboro Company, General Electric, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Massachusetts Electric, Microsoft, Stratus Computer, TRW, Uniroyal Chemical and United Technologies were among those who sent representatives to the fair, which was open to all WPI students and alumni.

"This year's fair generated a great deal of interest from students and prospective employers," says CDC Director Yvonne Harrison. "The turnout was the largest ever and we are optimistic that the connections made will translate into summer, Co-op and permanent opportunities."

Fire lab ablaze with research

An experiment to evaluate the flammability of a lightweight, composite material (similar to those used in aerospace applications) was conducted in WPI's recently expanded Fire Science Laboratory in Higgins Labs in September. The tests, conducted for the U.S. Coast Guard, measured the intensity of the heat on the burning surface and the rate of heat release.

LEAP into leadership

Prospective employees are learning they need more than an extensive resumé or an expensive wardrobe to get a job these days. Corporations and businesses now demand that college grads be able to manifest such leadership skills as good judgment and the ability to make decisions, and that they can think logically, plan strategies, work in teams, and articulate ideas verbally and in writing.

A newly created program at WPI will help a group of undergraduates become better leaders, communicators, team members and team builders. LEAP (Leadership Education and Practice), is a four-year, self-assessment, education, training and practice process established to prepare undergraduates for their future as professionals. LEAP was researched, designed and is being implemented by Yvonne Harrison, director of WPI's Career Development Center, Andrea Dorow, assistant director for student activities, and Tom Balistrieri, director of student development and counseling.

An advisory board of 18 representatives from the business and Worcester communities and the WPI faculty, staff and student body will work with the LEAP creators to discuss and plan the program, which is expected to attract support from major corporations and businesses.

"LEAP is a cutting-edge program unlike any other in the country," says Balistrieri. "It will give WPI students leadership opportunities few other universities can offer."

Seventy-five students are participating in the pilot phase of the noncredit program, which is being offered at no extra cost to participants. During the first year, students will learn about their values, goals, skills and development needs. A leadership plan is designed and each student keeps a log of what he or she is learning. In the second year, participants will be trained in specific leadership skills, connect with a mentor, may perform community service, are encouraged to apply for a leadership position on campus, and continue the self-assessment process. Training continues into the junior year, when students take part in internships or Co-op opportunities. The final year of the process focuses on actual and virtual simulations of real-work situations. "I look forward to talking to the LEAP students about summer opportunities because they are freshmen who chose to be leaders," says Christine Cataldo Lamberti '84, a production manager for General Electric, who has volunteered to be a mentor in the program.

"We are excited about LEAP and optimistic about its potential for increasing students' ability to obtain good jobs after graduation and for moving up the corporate or business ladder once they get into those jobs," says Harrison. "In the changing world of employment, we need to complement our students' superb educational credentials with practical strategies for meeting the demands of employers for more than good grades and technical skills. LEAP promises to do just that."

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