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The Washburn Shops

Washburn Labs

100 Institute Road, Worcester MA, 01609

WPI’s second building, Washburn Shops, was built in 1868 and constructed under the supervision of WPI co-founder Ichabod Washburn, owner of the world’s largest wire mill. In line with Washburn’s vision of teaching students technical skills through apprenticeship, the building was conceived of as a working manufacturing plant, complete with a boiler, engine room, and blacksmith shop. There, thousands of WPI students learned woodworking and ironworking and made products for sale under the tutelage of professional mechanics.

When the required apprenticeship was abolished in 1955, Washburn took on new functions and equipment, including the 10-kilowatt nuclear reactor. In 1984, the building was completely refurbished and the north wing was christened the Stoddard Laboratories in honor of longtime WPI benefactors in the Stoddard family. Today, Washburn is the oldest building in the United States still used for engineering education; it houses programs in manufacturing engineering and materials science. Its facilities include the Metal Processing Institute, Materials Characterization Laboratory, and offices for faculty from the Business School. The building’s early function and ideals can still be seen in the manufactured bricks that make up its façade and in its distinctive arm and hammer weathervane.

COVID-19 Building-Specific Safety Measures

  • Cleaning: Daily enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces in classrooms, hallways, stairs, bathrooms, and meeting spaces. Daily fogging of spaces with a disinfectant cleaning solution. 
  • Cleaning Supplies: Provided in centralized locations on each floor and in classrooms so individuals can clean their own workspace and equipment. 
  • Hand Sanitizer: Provided at entrances, in classrooms, and throughout public areas. Departments may be providing hand sanitizer at additional locations in office suites. 
  • Signage: To inform social distancing practices, occupancy limits, and cleaning requirements throughout the building. 
  • Bathrooms: Bathrooms have reduced occupancies required — some will be single-use occupancy to maintain social distancing. Drinking fountains have been shut off for your safety — where available, water bottle filler stations remain operational.
  • Classrooms and Teaching Labs: Classroom capacity has been reduced to maintain 6’ social distancing, daily enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces, cleaning supplies provided for students and faculty to clean personal space, where possible directional flow in and out of classrooms are indicated. 
  • Ventilation: Ventilation systems have been inspected, filters changed, and adjusted to increase ventilation rates.
  • Clear Barriers: Clear plexiglass barriers have been installed at classroom teaching stations and service desks in department offices to help reduce transmission. 
  • Building Access: The building will remain locked during business hours and is accessible with your WPI ID card. Campus visitors must register in advance and be escorted by the department. 

Offices and Departments