WPI was founded just after the Civil War, a time when America was on the brink of a great period of industrial growth and technological innovation. Our founders wanted to create a new kind of university to help prepare a professional class of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to fuel this new era. They had different ideas about how best to educate technological professionals, and in merging their visions, a new, influential model of higher education emerged.
In this model, students not only learned the fundamentals of science and engineering, but also had opportunities to apply them by solving real-world problems. The model remains the core of WPI's distinctiveness and is at the heart of its pioneering approach to undergraduate education (see The WPI Difference). The university's innovative approach to education has produced several generations of men and women who have used their knowledge and skills to make the world a better place.
A Pioneer in Education
WPI's approach to education influenced the founders of other early technological universities. In 1970, WPI revolutionized technological education again when it introduced a project-based curriculum that has stood the test of time and is still at the heart of our approach to education today. (All students complete three projects: a humanities and arts project, an interactive project and a major project.)
Today, the university continues to be model for change in higher education. Its pioneering outcomes-based approach to undergraduate education has been widely recognized – by institutions like the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) – as a uniquely effective method for preparing young men and women for success in life and work.
Our Founding and History
- WPI's Founding Fathers
- The Two Towers Tradition (WPI's heritage of balancing theory with application, as reflected in the towers of its original buildings)
- Seventy Years of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, by Herbert Foster Taylor (WPI's first history, written in 1927)
- Two Towers, by Mildred McClary Tymeson (WPI's centennial history, published in 1965)
- The History of WPI's Innovative Approach to Undergraduate Education
The Contributions of Our Alumni
- Distinguished Alumni of WPI
- Profiles in Innovation (12 seminal inventions of WPI graduates)
- Where the Space Age Began: Robert Goddard and WPI
Our Campus Traditions
- The Tech Bible (the student handbook, which contains the history of many WPI traditions
- Student Alumni Society (the organization that helps keep campus traditions alive)