1868 to 1960's
When WPI was founded in 1868, its primary obligation was seen as being to Worcester County. The cornerstone of its educational approach was a proper balance between theoretical knowledge and practical application with the result being a person able to contribute to and provide innovations to the growing industrial economy and society of Worcester County and Massachusetts.
In the late 1960's, WPI underwent a substantial academic reconfiguration. From this reconfiguration came a shift from traditional, course based curriculum to a project based curriculum that came to be called the WPI Plan. Additionally, the Master Qualifying Project (MQP), the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), and the Sufficiency (today's Humanity and Arts Component) were established as requirements for graduation. This shift and creation of these requirements allowed for the first opportunity for undergraduate students to begin to explore K-12 education as their IQP. As the intellectual environment of the times allowed for considerable questioning and investigation of education at all levels, it was natural that some students would take a path into education as a career.
1990's to Today
In 1994, Professor Lance Schachterle began to assist students who sought teacher certification by setting up a formal practicum where he supervised their preparations teachers. Those who went through this process had to apply for licensure directly to what was then the Department of Education in Massachusetts (now known as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).
In 1998, he and Professor John Goulet began the application process to become a formal licensing site for teachers so that students who completed WPI's Teacher Preparation Program could receive authorization for licensure directly from WPI.
Today, with both the Undergraduate Teacher Preparation Program and WPI's work with educators in other capacities growing regularly, it would seem that the intentions of the founders of the college - contributing to the society of Worcester and Massachusetts have been maintained.