Students at WPI Complete Research Project in London
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/June 22, 2000
Contact: WPI Media & Community Relations
LONDON, England - This year students have completed a research project at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's London Project Center. WPI students, led by professors Holly Ault and Joel Brattin, undertook several projects in England, one of the many global locations for WPI projects. In each case, the project fulfilled a graduation requirement at WPI.
- Lesley Chamberlain of Millis, Mass., a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Matthew Erickson of Sumas, Wash., a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, completed a project titled "Improved Design of an Elevating Mobile Arm Support" for their sponsor, the Royal Hospital for NeuroDisability in London.
Mobile arm supports are used by people with limited arm strength to help them with daily living activities such as eating or personal hygiene. Current supports were designed in the 1950s, so the WPI students decided to try to make some improvements.
"The goal of this project was to redesign (the support) to improve its balance characteristics and provide more uniform performance throughout its range of motion," the students wrote in their final report. "Prototype devices will be fabricated and clinically tested at the Royal Hospital for NeuroDisability in London." Chamberlain is the daughter of Priscilla Chamberlain and Erickson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Erickson.
- Jessica Hopkins of Leicester, Mass., a junior majoring in electrical engineering, and Anthony Zamarro of Northboro, Mass., a junior majoring in chemistry, completed a project titled "Determining Employee Attitudes at Cottage Homes."
Cottage Homes is a charitable organization in the United Kingdom that has undertaken organizational changes to become more competitive and to make employee job descriptions more uniform.
"In light of these changes, Cottage Homes (wanted) an indication of employee attitudes to determine the effects of these changes on employees," the students wrote in their report.
To complete the project, the students used a survey to canvas employees.
"Overall, we determined that the majority of the employees at Cottage Homes had positive work attitudes," the students wrote. "Some concerns expressed were communication, pay compensation and organizational changes. Recommendations have been made in hopes to increase satisfaction in those areas. These include offering extrinsic rewards, increasing management/employee interactions, taking action based on the results of this survey and conducting periodic attitude surveys."
Hopkins is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hopkins and Zamarro the son of Mr. and Mrs. Denis Zamarro.
- John Gleeson of Hyde Park, N.Y., a junior majoring in chemistry, Brian Papagni of Worcester, Mass., a junior majoring in civil engineering, and Emily Reynolds of Tolland, Conn., a junior majoring in biochemistry, completed "Merton UDP: Best Value Consultation Project" for the Merton borough planning policy and information team in London.
The goal was to review plans to ensure that "best value practice" will be used in Merton development.
"The plan should reflect the opinions of the general public in Merton," the students wrote in their report. Therefore, they conducted surveys of residents and officials to help frame best value and equal opportunity practices.
"Our study determined which methods would improve public participation, provided a strategy for future consultations and established the preferences residents have for feedback and consultation methods," they wrote in their final report.
Gleeson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph J. Gleeson; Papagni is the son of Mr. and Mrs. David P. Papagni; and Reynolds is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Reynolds.
- Darren McCormick of Belfast, Maine, a junior majoring in computer science, Carl E. Messina III of Townsend, Mass., a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Brian Wozniak of Lowell, Mass., a junior majoring in electrical engineering, completed "Science Museum: Creating the Morphing Image Database" for the London National Museum of Science and Industry. The project benefited the museum's new Wellcome Wing, which focuses on cutting-edge genetic and biomedical science.
"Two exhibits in the Wing will use 'morphing technology' as part of an interactive learning experience," the students wrote in their report. "The morphing software requires a database of faces to perform the face transformations."
The students created a database of human faces by encouraging volunteers to donate their images through the use of advertising and target group presentations. "The morphing interactive exhibits will allow museum visitors to have their pictures taken and then morphed to either a different age or a different gender," they concluded. "This will all be possible with the help of cutting edge morphing software, which uses a database of facial images to perform the morphing process."
McCormick is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond McCormick; Messina is the son of Charlene Messina; and Wozniak is the son of Stanley S. Wozniak.
- Benjamin Newton of Kingston, Mass., a senior electrical engineering major, Wendy Kogel of Shoreham, N.Y., a junior computer science major, and Laura Domey of Chelmsford, Mass., a junior electrical engineering major, completed a project titled "The National Museum of Science and Industry of London Wind Energy Exhibit."
The London museum wanted to create both a physical and virtual exhibit on energy, particularly using a wind energy component. The students proposed a variety of ideas to show how wind energy has been used to generate power over the past two centuries.
"Our team has developed nine final exhibit ideas that together explain what wind energy is and how it affects the world," the students wrote in their final report. "The Science Museum used these ideas in their creation of the Energy Gallery. The virtual exhibits we have created have been implemented and will serve as a model for the remaining parts of the Energy Gallery's Web page."
Newton is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Newton; Kogel is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Kogel; and Domey is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Domey.
- Kristin Blitsch of Princeton, Ill., a junior biotechnology major, Jonathan Perreault of Shrewsbury, Mass., a junior electrical engineering major, and Eric Tripodi of Lincoln, R.I., a junior mechanical engineering major, completed a project titled "Arthritis Care Information Assessment." Arthritis Care is a voluntary organization in the United Kingdom.
The project aimed to develop recommendations for improving the organization's information system. To do so, the students conducted research through focus groups and interviews to increase efficiency and productivity and allow Arthritis Care to support arthritis sufferers more effectively.
"From our information-gathering techniques, data and analysis, we were able to make recommendations to improve Arthritis Care's current information exchange system with the emphasis on information technology, training and policies and procedures," the students wrote in their report.
Blitsch is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Terry Blitsch, Perreault is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Perreault, and Tripodi is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Tripodi.
- Richard Jones of Holliston, Mass., a junior civil engineering major, Tom Solodyna of Charlton, Mass., a junior management information systems major, and Hien Nguyen of Brockton, Mass., a junior electrical engineering major, completed the project "Improving Communication at Solon Wandsworth Housing Association" for a London public housing organization. The goal was to upgrade the association's network to take advantage of innovations in information technology. The students developed a design plan for an Intranet-based communication network to work on several levels. In addition to researching and identifying information resources, the students conducted an in-depth analysis of the needs of network users and then prioritized those needs.
"We developed a work plan, consisting of recommendations for computer training, new policies and new technologies that will improve communication among Solon's employees," the students wrote in their final report.
Jones is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones; Solodyna is the son of Denise Solodyna; and Nguyen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hai N. Nguyen.
- Melissa Diercks of Thurmont, Md., a junior electrical engineering major, Julie Salisbury of Johnston, R.I., a junior biomedical engineering major, and Ana Maria Sellers of Panama, a junior chemistry major, completed the project "Quality Assurance for Prisoners Abroad." Prisoners Abroad is a small, nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of Britons who have been incarcerated in foreign countries. It had adopted a new quality assurance system that uses nationally recognized standards for efficiency. The project goal was to develop a plan to help meet new guidelines for resource management, environmental issues, equal opportunity and quality evaluation.
"We evaluated the agency's current policies in these areas, researched the policies of similar agencies for quality assurance, recommended new policies and procedures for Prisoners Abroad and developed a plan by which the organization can meet our recommendations," the students wrote in their final report.
Diercks is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Diercks, Salisbury is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Salisbury and Sellers is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Salisbury.
- Jason Cardinal of Halifax, Mass., a junior mechanical engineering major, Zhuo Chen of Chestnut Hill, Mass., a junior computer science major, and Nathan Smith of Avon, Mass., a senior mechanical engineering major, completed "Merton Town Planning Services in the Millennium" for the London borough of Merton's town council. The students surveyed public opinion regarding town planning in three areas: development control, land-use policy and public communication. They distributed a questionnaire to residents' associations, gathered focus groups for interviews and compiled this information to help the town determine its future.
"We have provided statistical data concerning the opinions of the surveyed residents on the three research topics," the students wrote in their final report. "This data will be useful to the Town Planning Service in determining its direction for the 21st century."
Cardinal is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roger J. Cardinal; Chen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Yong Chen; and Smith is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold F. Smith.
- Brenton Chamberland of Waterville, Maine, a junior management information systems major, John Gulbrandsen of Wethersfield, Conn., a junior computer science major, and Amanda Kight of Ravenna, Ohio, a junior biomedical engineering major, completed a project titled "Merton Consultation Database." The London borough of Merton Council, part of the local government, wanted an audit of past consultation processes to create an informational database.
"In completing this project, we determined that Merton Council has a great desire to conduct effective consultation," the students wrote in their final report. "The Council's department heads were all very enthusiastic about keeping the database updated, so it should remain useful indefinitely. The increased accuracy and efficiency provided by the database will greatly aid the Council as it strives to achieve (its goals)."
Chamberland is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Camille Chamberland; Gulbrandsen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Gulbrandsen; and Kight is the daughter of Jeannette Kight.
Founded in 1865, WPI enrolls 2,700 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students in science, engineering, management, humanities and arts, and social sciences. Under the WPI Plan, undergraduates complete three projects focusing on their major course of study, the humanities, and the interactions among science, technology and society.