Interdisciplinary and Global Studies

Contact Information

Office:
Project Center, 2nd Floor
Phone: +1-508-831-5344
Fax: +1-508-831-5491
vaz@wpi.edu

Richard F. Vaz

I received my PhD in electrical engineering from WPI, focusing on signal analysis and machine vision. I held systems and design engineering positions with the Raytheon Company, GenRad Inc., and the MITRE Corporation before joining the WPI Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty in 1987. While I enormously enjoyed teaching courses on signals, communication, controls, and design at the undergraduate and graduate levels, over time my interests in interdisciplinary teaching and learning and international education resulted in increasing involvement in WPI’s Student Project programs, both on campus and elsewhere. I’ve advised hundreds of undergraduate research projects in Australia, England, Hong Kong, Ireland, Namibia, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the United States.

As dean of WPI’s Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division (IGSD), I spend much of my time working with the 70 faculty and 600 students who participate each year in WPI’s Global Perspective Program through one of our 29 Project Centers around the world. In addition, I work with my colleagues in IGSD and across campus to support the Interactive Qualifying Project, WPI’s interdisciplinary degree requirement. I also assist students in developing individually designed majors. Most of my publications and professional activity these days center around interdisciplinary and international education. Through my involvement in organizations such as the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Society for Engineering Education, I work to promote WPI’s approach to undergraduate education as a national model.

Research Interests

  • Internationalization of Technological Education
  • Technology/Society Studies
  • Curricular Reform
  • Sustainability and Appropriate Design

Education

  • BS, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1979
  • MS, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1984
  • PhD, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1987

Featured Publications

  • Vaz, Richard. "Designing the Liberally Educated Engineer," Peer Review, AAC&U, Spring 2012. 
  • Vaz, Richard. "Do Global Experiences Facilitate Interdisciplinary Learning?," Proceedings of the MSU Conference on Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, Michigan State University, May 2012. 
  • Vaz, Richard, and Chrysanthe Demetry. "Recruitment, Mentoring, and Development of STEM Faculty to Lead International Programs," Proceedings of the 40th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, October 2010. 
  • Demetry, Chrysanthe, and Richard Vaz. "Evaluation of Intercultural Learning in an Education Abroad Program for STEM Undergraduates," Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exhibition, June 2010 
  • Vaz, Richard. "Scalable and Sustainable Programs for Internationalizing US Engineering Education: Are They Achievable?" Proceedings of the ASEE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2008.

Professional Highlights

  • Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding EE Professor Award, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2006
  • Senior Fellow, Association of American Colleges & Universities, 2004
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon Faculty Appreciation Award, 2001 and 2003
  • Eta Kappa Nu Award for Outstanding Contributions to the ECE Department, 2000
  • Winner of more than 20 awards for outstanding student project advising
 
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