Will an 'IQP' improve a student's IQ? No, but it will make the world a brighter place

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - An Interactive Qualifying Project (or IQP) is part community service, part learning experience - and it's designed to build a better scientist, a more astute engineer or a savvier manager.

At Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the IQP combines lessons from science, technology and the world at large. Every student at WPI must complete an IQP before they graduate. On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the top five IQP teams will be honored by WPI President Edward Alton Parrish at an awards presentation at 9 a.m. in Higgins House, on the WPI campus in Worcester, Mass.

Through this project, students embrace the social and ethical issues that go hand in hand with science and technology in our modern world. They come to understand the responsibility scientists and engineers have to the society in which they live and work. The IQP is widely considered WPI's most important contribution to technological education. Through this project, teams of students solve projects - including some of the most interesting and important problems facing our world.

For example, earlier this year, two WPI students took on the job of helping a developing nation take better advantage of fish farming. The highly successful project, which promises to raise standards of living and contribute to better nutrition, can be applied to nations around the world. This project garnered honors in WPI's annual President's Interactive Qualifying Project Awards Competition.

This year's winning projects form a diverse group, all completed at international locations, from Costa Rica, to London, England, to Thailand. Besides the winning entry on fish farming, other projects researched the following questions:

  • What effect will the relocation of a Thai village have upon its inhabitants?
  • How can fragile historic documents in a London museum be made available to modern scholars?
  • How can Costa Rican fire departments best exchange life-and-death information during an emergency?
  • What can be done to improve working conditions in a London hospital for the severely disabled?

To find out more, go to http://www.wpi.edu/News/Releases/20001/iqpawardsfinal.html or read about the IQP philosophy at http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/Depts/IGSD/iqp.html. For more information on WPI, contact Arlie Corday, assistant director of media relations, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280; phone: 508-831-6085; fax: 508-831-6004; e-mail: acorday@wpi.edu; web site: http://www.wpi.edu