Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities

Awarded by

The Class of 1879 Prize is awarded by the Humanities & Arts department yearly for excellent work in the culminating project for the Humanities & Arts Requirement. These projects must demonstrate exceptional creativity and skill in conceiving, developing, and expressing a theme within any discipline in the humanities and arts.  

History of the Prize

WPI has recognized exemplary work in the humanities and arts since 1872, when the department of English and Modern Languages established an award for the best paper in composition classes. At its reunion in 1900, the Class of 1879 endowed this prize for a paper "on a topic of general interest." The endowment was continued by Spencer Miller 1879, who wanted “to encourage graduates of the Institute to develop the art of clear and lucid English in the discussion of engineering subjects.”  The Class of 1879 Prize was then awarded annually to the best term paper in the departments of English, History, and Languages until the adoption of the WPI Plan in 1970. In 1983, the department of Humanities & Arts began to award the Class of 1879 Prize to the best Humanities Requirement Projects.  

The Class of 1879 Prize has evolved alongside WPI.  Today’s prize-winning projects rarely concern engineering subjects, and some aren’t even traditional essays.  But we still honor the spirit of Mr. Miller’s prize, to encourage and reward the highest achievements of human expression. 

Details for each year's competition are announced in November/December, with a deadline for submission in January. For information on the competition and how to submit your project for consideration, please contact the HUA office at ext. 5246 or at

Note: Prizes awarded for projects completed the previous year.

Browse Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities awardees

Year Recipient Award level Type Details
2018 Jared Grier Winner Undergraduate

“Acquired Disability and Disruption of the Self,”  advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2018 Jessica Hatt Winner Undergraduate

 “The Drug that Shattered the Nuclear Family,”  advisor: Constance Clark

2018 Neel Dhanaraj Winner Undergraduate

 “An Analysis of the Potential Endangerment of Immigrants Due to Merit-Based Immigration,”  advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2018 Eliot M. Fine Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Worcester: A Farewell Tour,” advisor: Joshua Harmon

2018 Harold Terry Hearst III Honorable Mention Undergraduate

 “The Music of Mario Galaxy,” advisor:  Douglas Weeks

2018 Nde Nkimbeng Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“The Multiple Selves of the Oppressed,” advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2018 Rosa Reynoso Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“The Muslim World in Transition—Rediscovering True Islam,”  advisor: W.A. Bland Addison

2017 Aviv Brest Winner Undergraduate

“An Ethical Framework for the Genetic Engineering of Animals,” advisor: John Sanbonmatsu

2017 Erin Morissette Winner Undergraduate

“Acoustics of the Clarinet and Spaulding Recital Hall,” advisor:  Douglas Weeks

2017 Nicole Mattson Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“For Every Hour:  Twenty-Four Prose Poems,” advisor: Joshua Harmon

2017 Olivia Leavitt Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Repeat and Refrain:  Making A Renaissance Villancico Modern,” advisor: Douglas Weeks

2016 Benjamin Huchley Winner Undergraduate

"Online Avatars: An Expression of the User's Self," advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2016 Cody Slater Winner Undergraduate

"The Temporal Expression of Consciousness," advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2016 Reynaldo Duran Winner Undergraduate

"Painting a Bridge Between Past and Future," advisor: W.A. Bland Addison and Kristin Boudreau

2016 Alex Markoski Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Greatest Influences for Being a Well-Rounded Musician," advisor: Douglas Weeks

2016 Eric Stolz Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"One- and Two-State Peace Solutions in Israel," advisor: W.A. Bland Addison

2015 Kimberly Marrion Winner Undergraduate

“Ethics, Dementia and Family: An Investigation into the Familial Issues that Arise with Dementia Patients,” major: Architectural Engineering, advisor: Bethel Eddy

2015 Paulo Carvalho Winner Undergraduate

“Developing and Composing for a Robotic Organ,” major: Biomedical Engineering and Robotics Engineering, minor: Electrical and Computer Engineering, advisor: Scott Barton

2015 Katherine Picchione Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Pokomchi Pictorial Literacy,” major: Mechanical Engineering and Society, Technology, and Policy, advisor: Ryan Madan

2014 Bohao Li Winner Undergraduate

“Lee Teng-hui and a New Taiwanese Nationalism” Major: Computer Science. Advisor: Jennifer Rudolph

2014 Charlotte Reames Winner Undergraduate

“Gender Roles in Morocco” Major: Biology and Biotechnology. Advisor: W. A. Bland Addison

2014 Jedediah Perron Winner Undergraduate

“Going Out With A Bang: The American Supersonic Transport and the Environmental Movement” Major: Aerospace Engineering. Advisor: Thomas Robertson

2014 Ali Fuat Becan Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Producer as Composer Practicum” Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering. Advisor: Scott Barton (honorable mention)

2014 Xuan He Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Faith Healing” Major: Biomedical Engineering. Advisor: Bethel Eddy

2013 Christopher Bannon Winner Undergraduate

“Transgenic Animals and the Catholic Church”, Advisor:  Bethel Eddy

2013 Justin Rice Winner Undergraduate

“Modernization in the Western Himalayas: Himachal Pradesh and the Apple Industry”, Advisor:  Thomas Robertson

2013 Xiuping Chen Winner Undergraduate

"Origins and Characteristics of Chinese Cyber Nationalism”, Advisor:  Jennifer Rudolph

2013 Syed Athar Bin Amir Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“An Evaluation of the Terror”, Advisor:  Bland Addison

2013 Ting Ting Wang Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Union Carbide and the Bhopal Incident: An American Company in a Third World Nation During the Cold War”, Advisor:  Thomas Robertson

2012 Ashik Gowdar Winner Undergraduate

"Muted Musing", Advisor: Joseph Farbook

2012 Peter Osswald Winner Undergraduate

"America's War in Afghanistan", Advisor Bland Addison

2012 Sarah Conlin Winner Undergraduate

"Infamy: The Before After", Advisor James Cocola

2012 Mariah Seaboldt Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"The House on Berkshire Street", Advisor: Michelle Ephraim

2012 Sarah Sawatzki Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Women in Stone: Public Displays of Feminine Tenacity in London" Advisor John Delorey

2011 Craig Mitchell Winner Undergraduate

“The John Hancock Tower,” advisor: M. David Samson

2011 Kassondra Hickey Winner Undergraduate

“Interactive Media Art,” advisor: Joseph Farbrook

2011 Mortada Najem Winner Undergraduate

“Human Applicable Cloning: the Islamic Debate,” advisor: Bethel Eddy

2011 Aakrit Bhakhri Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Muslim Separatism and Identity in India: Aftermath of the Partition of 1947,” advisor: Ruth Smith

2011 Mark Hayden Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Transmarginal Inhibition in Gravity’s Rainbow,” advisor: Lance Schachterle

2011 Xiaoyun Wang & Chang Liu Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“The Saint Archer” (animated short film), advisor: Joshua Rosenstock

2010 Jeffrey Marrion Winner Undergraduate

"Philosophy and Film: Existentialism and Place," advisor: J. Sanbonmatsu

2010 Michael Szkutak Winner Undergraduate

"Presidential Electioneering in the Television Age," advisor: J. Hanlan

2010 Sarah Albrecht Winner Undergraduate

"Motives for Change: Signac's Stylistic Shift," advisor: D. Samson

2010 Don Havener Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"The Encyclopedia and the Third Estate," advisor B. Addison

2010 Everett Tripp Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Why They Fought: The Working Class in Empire," advisor: P. Hansen

2010 Heather Bell Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Celtic Music Throughout the UK," advisor: J. Delorey

2009 Andrew Marchese Winner Undergraduate

"Origins of Emergent Order: The Inadequacy of Reductionism and the Complexity of Light Phenomena," advisor: David Spanagel

2009 Maggie Allard Winner Undergraduate

"The Butterfly (animated short)," advisor: Joshua Rosenstock

2009 Richard Pampuro Winner Undergraduate

"Right within Anarchism," advisor: John Sanbonmatsu

2009 Kirk Lanciani Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Soaring on the Ground: The Flight Simulator," advisor: E. Malcom Parkinson