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WPI Students' Cape Town Research Wins President's IQP Award

WPI student researchers who designed and developed a communal water facility in a neighborhood of Cape Town, South Africa, are winners of the President's IQP Award for 2009.

The team includes seniors Marcella C. Granfone, Christopher R. Lizewski and Daniel J. Olecki. They collaborated with the city of Cape Town Water and Sanitation Department over a period from October to December 2008 and worked to improve access to clean water for residents of Monwabisi Park, an area that includes 20,000 people and suffers from poor sanitation. The team, advised by professors Scott Juisto and Robert Hersh, designed a facility that can serve up to 60 people and includes clean drinking water, toilets, showers and drainage. 

As part of WPI's innovative project-based curriculum, all students are required to complete a research-driven project known as the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). IQPs are conducted around the world at WPI's 26 international project centers, which are overseen by the university's Global Perspective Program. These projects offer students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in tackling important problems that blend science, technology, social issues, and human needs. In doing so, students develop an understanding of other cultures and see how their lives and work can make a real-life impact on their host communities.

The best IQPs are honored each January at the President's IQP Awards Competition. This year, five were selected to compete for the top prize. In addition to the first-place Cape Town project, the other four finalists were: 

  • "Hydroponic Farming in Mahasarakham: Integrating Hydroponics into the Agricultural Curriculum While Introducing Entrepreneurial Skills," by students Aubrey Dumaoal Ortiz, Hilary A. Rotatori, Elizabeth Alice Schreiber, and George von Roth; advised by professors Chrysanthe Demetry and Richard Vaz.
  • "Wind Generation on Nantucket," by students Diana M. Berlo, Jennifer L. Hunt, Amanda L. Martori, and Justin Skelly; advised by Professor Michael Elmes.
  • "Mapping as a Foundation for Spatial Redevelopment in Monwabisi Park," by students Debra Ann Franck, William Wyke Mayo, Matthew Ryan Tomasko, and Yanxuan Xie; advised by professors Scott Jiusto and Robert Hersh.
  • "Leicester Energy Study," by students Christopher Daniel Gabrielson, Stephen William Hanly, and Laura Elizabeth Montville; advised by Professor Fred Looft.

The finalists gave their presentations before President Dennis D. Berkey and a panel of accomplished judges: Susan B. Woodbury, chair of the Worcester-based George I. Alden Trust; Kristin Boudreau, professor of English and head of WPI's Department of Humanities and Arts; Steven Weisler, professor of linguistics and dean of enrollment and assessment at Hampshire College; Stephen Rubin '74, president and CEO of Longwatch Inc. and a WPI trustee; and Michael M. Galbraith '58, who worked for 44 years in the chemical processing industry with Procter & Gamble, DeSoto Chemical, Mobil Oil, Pratt and Lambert, and Seymour of Sycamore.

View videos of all five presentations.

February 5, 2010

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