Interactive Qualifying Project
The Interactive Qualifying Project, or IQP as it is known on campus, is WPI's most distinctive academic requirement, and is unique in higher education. The IQP challenges students to address a problem that lies at the intersection of science or technology with social issues and human needs and is done under the direct guidance of one or more faculty advisors, usually in teams of 2-4 students.
Many IQP ideas come from external sponsors, while others are proposed by faculty members or the students themselves. Students usually arrange their IQP while they are sophomores, and then complete the project in the junior year. An IQP involves at least 1 unit of academic work – the equivalent of three courses – and can either be completed in a single term, or spread over multiple terms.
The objective of this interdisciplinary requirement is to enable WPI graduates to understand, as citizens and as professionals, how their careers will affect the larger society of which they are part. Generally, these projects involve some analysis of how technology affects, and is affected by, individuals and communities. Many of the projects are proposed by external agencies or organizations, and most are done in teams. About 60% of all IQPs are completed through the Global Perspective Program at one of WPI's Project Centers in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, or Europe.
The IQP is an intentionally broad and integrative experience; student teams are drawn from all disciplines, and the project topic is typically not related to the students' major field. The methods used by IQP students sometimes arise from training in the social sciences or humanities.