Major Qualifying Projects in the Chemical Engineering Department are exciting and are being conducted in virtually every specialty within Chemical Engineering. They range from participating in cutting-edge, long-term research on molecular scales to working on optimization of large production facilities. While some MQPs are conducted as individual projects, most are done in teams of two to four students and many teams are self-selected (meaning students form their own team).
Broadly, we offer students four types of MQPs:
1. Students may work on a lab-scale project as part of a professor’s research program. Here, you are typically working as part of a larger research group, working alongside the professor, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students within a specific field of research. Students work with the individual faculty to define and develop the scope of the project to meet both the needs of the research program and the curiosity of the student. These projects are usually spread out over two or three terms senior year, but often start as volunteer work or independent study as early as the sophomore year.
2. Students may work at one of our associated universities. Here, the students work with a professor and his/her graduate students in the chemical engineering (or related) department at another university (and often their students are working at WPI in exchange). These projects usually occur in a single term, where the student solely works on this project for 7 weeks. These usually occur in C (sometimes in B) term. We currently have projects at the following sites:
- Nancy, France
- Shanghai, China
- Recife, Brazil
We are exploring opportunities at other international universities in England and Germany.
3. Students may choose to do a more industrial-type project at a company. Here, students may work with one of a number of local chemical engineering companies, usually working in teams of two to four students over the course of three terms; Students work some of the time at the company and some of the time at WPI in our project lab. These projects typically involve some type of process improvement or optimization. If the company is distant, the project can be conducted at the company in a single term (usually C, sometimes B) (e.g., Gallo Winery in CA). We work with more than a dozen different firms in the chemical, pharmaceutical, consumer product and other industries. Different than an internship or co-op experience, these are truly open ended projects that offer an MQP experience in an industrial setting, working on a project that is typically defined by the company.
4. Finally, students may develop their own MQP based on their ideas. Here, students work with faculty to develop the scope of the project, be it in a research lab or in a commercial/organizational/industrial setting. The faculty ensure that the project scope meets the department’s expectations for an MQP.