Major Qualifying Project

The Major Qualifying Project (MQP) is a high-level research project all WPI students complete. The project is in your major field and lets you solve real-world problems and challenging research issues that might be similar to what you will find in your professional life.

Biomedical engineering students use the MQP to dig deep into research in their field, allowing them to get a jump on gaining skills and generating original ideas that are essential for working in this fast-paced field. Recent projects are described below.

Each project requires a substantial part of an academic year, culminating in a public presentation on Project Presentation Day held annually in the spring. With an MQP on your resume, you’ll have a leg up on the competition when it comes to launching your career or gaining admission to the best graduate schools.

Because the MQP is used to fulfill the design requirement for ABET accreditation, department requirements must be met regardless of the advisor's departmental affiliation or the number of biomedical engineering students on the project.

In addition to any special requirements made by the advisor, all project groups must do the following:

  • Keep a design notebook that documents the design process
  • Complete an MQP report
  • Orally present the project’s results at Project Presentation Day (and possibly at another department’s Project Presentation Day if your advisor or co-advisor is from a different department)

The design notebook documents the project’s design history and any other relevant material and becomes property of the department upon the project’s completion. Notebooks are available in the department.  

Students choose from several options for the oral presentation requirement of the MQP, beginning with the Biomedical Engineering Department's Project Presentation Day held in D-Term of each year.

If the advisors are all from outside the Biomedical Engineering Department, students may present at their department's Project Presentation Day event. Students are, however, also encouraged to present at the Biomedical Engineering event. If they are presenting solely in a department outside biomedical engineering, students must inform the biomedical engineering department prior to Project Presentation Day

Examples of recent MQPs in Biomedical Engineering:

Feeding Device for Premature Infants in Low Middle-Income Countries

The Problem:  In premature babies, the suck/swallow motion for feeding is not fully developed and systems to support the healthy nutrition of these babies are lacking, leading many to become malnourished.

The Project: This MQP developed an automatic feeding system to deliver infant formula and medications to premature babies at a set rate.  With collaborators in Ghana, students determined critical device features, safety parameters, and usability by medical professionals. The device needed to be  easy to use, transportable, sterilizable for use on multiple patients, battery powered, and able to be disassembled and assembled without the need for specialized instrumentation and follow guidelines required for Ghana FDA testing in the clinic.

Areas of Study:  Biosensing, Bioautomation, Global Health

Students: Hannah Borges, Alexis Nichols, Shreya Puttagunta, Meghan Slaney, Chris Son

Advisors: Solomon Mensah, Dirk Albrecht

The Design of an Implantable Reparative Device for UCL Tears in Overhead Throwing Athletes

The Problem:  Over the past 15 years, ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction has become a common procedure among both adolescent and elite-level athletes.   There remains a significant need to develop an off-the-shelf, minimally invasive implantation system to facilitate UCL healing and tissue repair.

The Project: This MQP developed a scaffold/ therapeutic delivery system to enhance ligament regeneration.  The students then analyzed scaffold system in an implant model of UCL repair and evaluated the feasibility of scaling up and commercializing the scaffold-therapeutic technology.

Areas of Study:  Biomaterials, Biomechanics, Imaging, Tissue Engineering

Students: Maria Decelles, Evan Hallberg, Brooklynn Paris, Megan Smith

Advisors: George Pins, Karen Troy, Dr. David Magit (BIDMC)

Click: A Manual Force-Sensing Toothbrush

The Problem: Gimmicky toothbrushes, toothpastes and mouth rinses mislead public to achieving its optimum dental health. Physical properties of dental plaque (the irritant) should guide removal techniques.

The Project: This MQP designed a toothbrush, simply made, affordable, with an auditory/tactile component to teach/guide the user.

Areas of Study:  Biomaterials, Biomechanics, Biofeedback, Instrumentation, Global Health

Students: Emma Bailey, Matthew Casserly, Katelin Rudnik, Allison Smith

Advisors: Raymond Page, Catherine Whittington

Increasing Accessible Gynecological Care for Women with Cerebal Palsy

The Problem: Women with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy (CP), are less likely than able-bodied women to have ever received a Pap smear yet early screening is crucial to positive outcomes for cervical cancer.  One barrier is the lack of accommodating equipment, such as the rigid speculum.  Women with CP experience poor muscle tone or tight muscle, which makes it hard for them to maintain proper positioning, making it hard to place a rigid device.

The Project: This MQP designed a flexible speculum to accommodate women with CP in order to increase access to lifesaving procedures and examinations. Preliminary results show that our device can provide the access to the cervix necessary for Pap smears, while being flexible to accommodate women with CP.

Areas of Study:  Biomaterials, Biomechanics, Imaging, Women's Health

Students: Julianna Cognetta, Mia Velletri

Advisors: Karen Troy

Community Partnerships

WPI works closely with area industries to provide outside project opportunities and ideas. At UMass Medical Center in Worcester, students work with physicians on projects that range from redesigning surgical tools to developing new monitoring equipment. At Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in nearby Grafton, students find many animal-related MQP opportunities.  

MQP/Projects Laboratory

Because project work is a significant component of a WPI education, the Biomedical Engineering Department maintains a dedicated laboratory for MQPs, IQPs (Interactive Qualifying Projects), and independent projects (Goddard Hall 006).

The facility contains network-attached PC-based computers, computer-based data acquisition systems, general electronic testing equipment, biomechanical and biomaterial testing equipment, and other common laboratory equipment and supplies. It also has equipment used in the study of cell culture, including biosafety cabinets, incubators, and microscopes.