General Information for Volunteers
All applicants must fill out the application form and submit their high school transcripts, a math or science teacher recommendation, a recommendation from a guidance counselor or college counselor, and an essay. WPI accepts both the Common application (one application that is used by many colleges and the questions are the same for all) and the WPI application. Admissions interviews are not used as part of the admissions process, and the candidate is not evaluated on the basis of an interview, but the applicant is still welcome to schedule an on-campus interview.
Our Early Action deadlines are November 15 and January 1, and this means that a candidate will learn of their admission within about a month of the deadline. The Early Action plan does not involve any commitment at all on the part of the applicant to attend WPI. Students can also choose to still apply Regular Decision with a deadline of February 1. In 2007, the Admissions Office received almost 6,000 applications. WPI typically enrolls a freshman class of around 800.
Beginning with the 2007-2008 academic year, the Admissions Office has instituted a brand-new SAT optional requirement. Students may opt to NOT submit standardized tests but if they choose not to, they must submit something in place of the tests that will demonstrate to Admissions the candidate's suitability for our academic program. The option is called the "WPI Flex Path" and these alternative submissions might include descriptions of science projects, research papers, robotics or other mechanical design concepts, portfolio or other significant work undertaken in school or outside of school that the applicant believes best represents their academic potential.
The WPI Campus and Its Surroundings
The WPI campus is set on an 80-acre hilltop site about one mile from downtown Worcester, the third-largest city in New England (pop. 170,000). Bordered on two sides by parks and on the other sides by private homes, WPI offers the quiet and peace of a suburban campus combined with convenient access to the opportunities of the city. WPI is one of ten colleges and universities in Worcester, which enroll a total of 30,000 students.
Worcester is located in the heart of New England. It's an hour from Boston and Providence, just a couple of hours from the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, the rocky coast of Maine, and the beaches of Cape Cod, and three-and-a-half hours from New York City.
Cultural attractions in and around Worcester include the Worcester Art Museum, the EcoTarium, a baseball team – “Tornadoes”, the John Woodman Higgins Armory Museum, the Worcester Historical Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, Mechanics Hall, a nationally known musical festival, two symphony orchestras, several outstanding choruses, several active community and professional theater groups, the Worcester Craft Center, and Old Sturbridge Village. These facilities and organizations provide students with many academic, social, and cultural opportunities. Also accessible to the students is the Worcester DCU Centre- a 13,000 seat civic center (the most successful civic center in the nation). Many convenience stores, pizza places, and other stores are within close walking distance from the campus.
The Student Body
The undergraduate enrollment is approximately 2,850 with about 1,000 full and part time graduate students. Women make up roughly 25% of the student body. Around 75% of the enrolled students are from public school backgrounds. Approximately 80% of entering freshmen graduate from WPI. Approximately 92% of the entering freshmen class return for their sophomore year. Over 50% of our students pursue engineering degrees; over 30% pursue the sciences (including Computer Science).
Currently international students represent 72 countries. Domestic students represent 41 states; the largest representation is from New England, New York and New Jersey. However, the percentage of students from out-of-state is growing.
There are 341 full-time and part-time teaching faculty and the student/faculty ratio is 13:1. 98% of the faculty hold PhD's.
Gordon Library houses 350,000 volumes, 780,000 microform titles, 1,000 periodicals, and 4,200 records, tapes, and CD's. Some of the noteworthy facilities include the Manufacturing Engineering Applications Center, the Instructional Media Center, the Fuller Laboratories, the Nuclear Reactor Facility, and Alden Hall – the renovated Center for Performing Arts. WPI has more than 40 laboratories on campus, including VLSI Design Laboratory, and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Administrative computing is based on client-server design, with a web interface to give students direct access to their registration information. Academic facilities include about 200 X terminals run by UNIX servers, about 200 UNIX workstations, and over 1,000 networked PC's on campus, including more than 300 general access PC's, connected to a Novell file server providing software, printer services and a common user interface. 1,000 more student-owned PC's are similarly networked in residence halls as well as sororities and fraternities.
Facilities include a DEC 7620, 200 DEC workstations (130 for general access), and 50 SUN workstations. A fiber-optic based Ethernet links every laboratory, classroom, office, and residence hall on campus.
Wireless coverage is available at over 15 locations on/near campus.
Academic Offerings at WPI
For specific questions about particular departments, please review the Undergraduate Catalog, which is always available to guests in the Admissions Office and online. In general terms, we offer Bachelor of Science and Arts degrees (and Masters and Ph.D. degrees in many fields) in almost every field of engineering, pure and applied sciences, computer science, management, and the liberal arts. We also have an Interdisciplinary Affairs Office, in which students can "create" their own major. It is important for tour guides to read the WPI catalog and other literature.
Your own experience and knowledge of the academic program is, in all likelihood, sufficient to answer most of the questions you encounter. Included below is some information with which you may or may not be familiar. If you do not know much about a particular department, refer the person to someone who does. Also, if you have any negative feelings about a course, department, or professor, please do not present your opinions as fact! Keep in mind that what you may find uninspiring might be what someone else likes - so be careful in what you say!
WPI's calendar year consists of four 7-week terms during the academic year, with an additional optional fifth summer term. Classes for undergraduate degree candidates are held Monday through Friday, usually during the daytime hours.
Class sizes vary depending on what term they are taken, what year the student is, what major they are, etc. Most classes are between 25-35 students. The freshman math and science courses are going to be larger, while the humanities courses will be smaller. Use your own experience with classes when answering this.
The largest departments in terms of students enrolled are Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, respectively. Please do not encourage students/parents to equate the size of the department to the quality. Such misconceptions tend to hurt the smaller departments unjustly.
Cooperative education is available. A B.S. degree may be extended to 4 ½ or 5 years with a 6-9 month coop spent in industry on a pay/no credit basis. This program does not begin until after the sophomore year.
This is a 5-year program allowing a student to earn both a B.S. at WPI and a B.A. at a coordinating liberal arts college. Programs exist with Assumption College, Regis College, Emmanuel College, St. Lawrence University, Anna Maria College, and Worcester State College.
All three branches are available, with the Army and Air Force programs at WPI and the Navy program at Holy Cross College. The Navy branch is open to WPI students, and in fact, most Naval cadets are WPI students.
This allows students to earn a Bachelor's and Master's degree (M.S. and M.B.A. offered) in five years. A student can opt to do this once they have enrolled (not during the application process).
The 10 colleges in Worcester form a consortium, where students at each of the schools are able to cross-register for classes at no extra charge. There is a shuttle bus system that is available to all students. The participating colleges are Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Becker College, Clark University, Holy Cross College, Quinsigamond Community College, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, WPI, and Worcester State College. Around 40 students enroll in consortium classes each semester.
It is possible to major in two disciplines at WPI, although keep in mind that the student must complete two MQP's. The option for double majors is available, but not widely used.
Major Selection Program
Incoming freshmen can make use of any or all of the following: tests to help identify skills and interests; shadowing professionals on the job; individual career counseling; visiting a WPI alumnus at their place of work; upper-class peer advisors.
Job Placement and Graduate School
The Career Development Center (CDC) coordinates on-campus interviews and assists with off-campus interviews for graduating seniors. The CDC also helps with summer job placement. Placement for WPI graduates still continues to be highly competitive with over 90% of graduates finding full time employment or graduate school opportunities soon after graduation.
Students can also get assistance with graduate school applications and interviews. About 20% of all WPI students go directly to graduate school, although nearly 80% of science degree recipients will attend immediately after graduation. Over 80% of WPI graduates will attend graduate school within five years of graduation.
Major Project, Interactive Project, and Humanities and Arts Project
Your own experience (or that of your roommates, friends, etc.) is always good to use to illustrate the project work here at WPI. If you're looking for examples, though, the “Interactions” and "Innovations" catalogs contain Interactive Project and Major Project abstracts for all majors. Some off-campus Major Project sites now include: Norton Company, BOSE, and UMass Medical Center. There are also numerous Major Project opportunities and centers on campus, including the Advanced Aeronautical Design Center for Solar Electrification, the Manufacturing Engineering Applications Center, the Center for Computer Aided Engineering, and the Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies.
Residential and Social Life at WPI
WPI is a residential college. A total of 1300 on-campus housing spaces are available, with all freshmen guaranteed housing. We have fraternities and sororities that provide an additional 450 spaces. 95% of first-year students live in college-owned housing, and 67% of all undergraduates live in college-owned housing. The rest of the student body either lives in off-campus housing or commutes (less than 5%).
All residence halls are smoke-free; all have sprinklers and smoke/heat detectors. High-speed Internet, cable TV and telephone connections are available in all rooms. The Fuller-Ellsworth Apartments are for upperclassmen only. There are six residence halls on campus - Sanford-Riley, Daniels, Morgan, the Stoddard Complex, Founders Hall, and Institute Hall (freshmen only). There are no single-sex residence halls, however, single-sex floors are available (and all bathrooms are single-sex). We also have quiet and substance-free housing available by request. Most rooms are doubles, however, there are singles (for upperclassmen only), triples, and quads (a suite - two doubles joined by a common living area). Res Halls are self-governing units with students hired by the college (Resident Advisors) to assist in establishing living rules, dealing with the academic and personal concerns of the members of their floors, and to oversee the general operation of their floors. All rooms are equipped with a bed, dresser, wardrobe closet, desk, and overhead light for each student.
There is a lottery system for upperclassmen housing selection. For those who wish to seek housing off campus, the Office of Residential Services maintains listings of available apartments and rooms. Nearly all students applying for on-campus housing are able to get it.
Often you will be asked if incoming freshmen may request a particular residence hall. Students may specify their choice of residence halls on their room preference sheet; however, the college may not be able to honor all requests. Requests are processed in the order of their tuition deposit date.
*Always refer to the dorms as "Residence Halls" - it sounds better.
The WPI Health Center is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. After hours, there will be an answering service that can put students in touch with physicians or hospitals in emergencies. Registered Nurses provide coverage. Two part-time physicians are in the Health Center five days per week, for approximately four hours per day at no cost for registered students. Hours are posted at the beginning of each school year. Allergy injections are administered to students in the morning on a stable dosage upon receipt of serum and instruments from the student's personal physician. Gynecological services are available four hours per week by appointment.
Social Life here encompasses a variety of opportunities. There are 11 national fraternities and 2 national sororities. The Greek system only involves approximately 33% of the student body, so those students who are not members do not feel alienated. SocComm (the Social Committee) and Student Activities sponsor many activities, including Sunday Night Movies, Coffeehouses, Homecoming events and Winter Carnival, concerts given by various bands, and many more activities. Approximately 30% of the student body is involved in music and/or performing arts. There is certainly plenty to do for every kind of student here! On the academic side of social organizations, WPI also has about 20 professional societies and 14 honor societies. All in all, there are 189 clubs and organizations.
The Worcester Airport Limousine and/or the Knight Limousine Service can be reserved to take students right from campus to airports that are about an hour's drive from Worcester (Boston MA, Providence RI, and Manchester NH). The WRTA city bus system is quite extensive and comes through Highland Street. Shuttle buses are available to the consortium college campuses. The Peter Pan and Greyhound bus station and the Amtrak station are only about a mile away in downtown Worcester. By bus, Boston is an hour away and tickets are about $10 round trip.
Freshmen are not allowed to register cars on campus. Upperclassmen may register and park cars on WPI property for $10 a year. This restriction is due to the limited parking space available on campus.
Security Night Assistance Patrol (SNAP)
The Housing Office trains students to patrol residence halls between 9pm and 2am to enhance security and safety. SNAP also serves as an escort service, providing transportation to and from WPI (within a 1 mile radius) Sunday to Thursday 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM and on Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM.