Finalists Announced for WPI President's IQP Awards

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass.--Seventeen Worcester Polytechnic Institute students in five Interactive Qualifying Project teams have been named finalists in this year's President's IQP Awards. Projects will be presented to WPI President Edward A. Parrish and a panel of judges beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, in Higgins House on the WPI campus; winners will be named after dinner.

The awards are presented each year to the students team or teams that complete the best IQP. The IQP is one of three projects all undergraduates at WPI undertake as part of the innovative WPI Plan, a flexible, exciting and academically challenging program introduced in 1971. Under the Plan, students are provided with unique opportunities for integrating classroom studies with preprofessional academic projects conducted on campus or at companies, agencies and project sites in the U.S. and abroad. The purpose of the IQP is to make students aware of their responsibilities to manage technology effectively and ethically. About 200 IQPs are completed each year; this year, 25 teams submitted IQPs to a panel of faculty members who selected the five finalists.

The 1995 President's IQP Award finalists are:

Barry DeCoster of Mechanic Falls, Maine, Michael Dupont of Dighton, Mass., and Peter Manolakos of Peabody, Mass., for "Proposal for Client Satisfaction Measurement Survey Prepared for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability." For their IQP, completed at WPI's London Project Center, the students created a pilot study in to measure patient satisfaction at the hospital, which offers short- and long-term care to severely disabled clients. DeCoster, Dupont and Manolakos interviewed 50 patients and 25 family members, who identified having control over one's life, providing care in an aesthetically pleasing setting, and focusing on quality assurance as important contributors to patient satisfaction.

Joseph Beauchemin of Holyoke, Mass., Samuel Fix of Lee, Mass., and John Coolidge of Barre, Vt., were recognized for their 'Proposal for the Deep Sea Gallery for the National Maritime Museum." The students, who also worked out of WPI's London Project Center, organized preliminary research and studied how the museum, which is located in Greenwich, England, could best present material on the power and movement of the sea, global warming and rising ocean levels, and how sound travels in the ocean so that visitors could comprehend and interact with the displays. For the first topic the students' recommended that the exhibit area include a video (with sound effects) of waves crashing on rocks, panels illustrating ocean circulation and a central globe that shows all of the major currents. An interactive computer exhibit was suggested for the global warming exhibit that would enable visitors to see what happens when the world's temperature is raised, and a topographical model of the British Isles that would demonstrate the effect on Great Britain if the sea rose as a result of global warming. The final area would benefit, the students say, from a panel that diagrams sound moving through the SOFAR (sound fixing and ranging) channel and another that would explain why sounds that originate in the channel stay in that channel. Visitors listening on headsets would follow the progress of sound waves, represented by lights on the panel. English Professor Kent Ljungquist served as advisor to both of these projects.

Joseph Batcha of Trumbull, Conn., Matthew Dei of Mansfield, Mass., Daniel Horgan of Ashburnham, Mass., and Christopher Michalak of Penfield, N.Y., were named finalists for "An Assessment of Pedestrian Mobility in the San Juan Area." Puerto Rico's Department of Transportation and Public Works has been examining public transportation to determine ways of reducing traffic and congestion. For their IQP, which they completed at WPI's Puerto Rico Project Center in San Juan, the students examined published literature, did field studies and interviewed traffic safety and urban planning professionals to determine how to improve public walkways along Ponce de Leon Avenue and Loiza Street to encourage people to walk instead of ride. Their recommendations included building ramps for the handicapped at all corners, educations drivers and pedestrians on the benefits of walking, improving pedestrian safety, linking transit modes and decreasing the use of private automobiles.

A second project at the Puerto Rico Project Center is also among the finalists. "Feasibility of Submarine Sand Extraction in Puerto Rico," by Bradley Forrest of Ashburnham, Mass., Chad Hamel of Bethlehem, N.H., Martin Rosner of Andover, Conn., and Timothy Tully of Greenville, R.I., examined the impact of Operation Bootstrap, a self-help industrial development program that led to rapid economic growth but provoked the exploitation of sand from beaches, dunes and rivers for 20 years during the 1950s and 1960s. The students examined ways to access sand deposited offshore during that time. Their report outlined the environmental concerns associated with sand extraction at each site and suggests additional studies that should be conducted to limit the resulting risks. Chemistry Professor Stephen Weininger was the project advisor for both IQPs.

Jesus Beltran of Quito, Ecuador, Erin Brophy of Castleton, N.Y., and Alex Cardenas of El Dorado, Panama, completed "A Computerized Catalog of Outdoor Art in Dorsoduro, Venice," at WPI's Venice Project Center. The students inspected 422 pieces of art in the sestiere di Dorsuduro then created three databases to create a computerized catalog. The technical database, Sculture Esterne Tecnico, contains information from field observations of the art; the Rizzi, or artistic database, includes several aspects of each piece such as its location, description, history and age; and the third database, MapInfo, was used to create a map of all pieces cataloged in the IQP. The three databases were linked by a code, known as the codice, which is a unique number assigned to each piece. Faculty advisors were Douglas Woods, professor and head of the Social Science & Policy Studies Department, and Fabio Carrera of the Venice Project Center.

The London, Puerto Rico and Venice project centers are part of WPI's Global Perspective Program. About one-third of the Institute's undergraduates no complete their required projects with businesses and organizations at locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America, broadening their horizons, learning to work as professionals in other cultures, and seeing firsthand the role of science and technology in other nations. They account more than 15 percent of all U.S. engineering students studying abroad.