The Major Qualifying Project (MQP) is a focused design and/or research project in the student’s major field. Through the MQP, every WPI student has the chance to experience the kind of real-world problem solving that will soon characterize their professional careers. With an MQP on their resume, WPI students can make a significant contribution to their field before they even launch careers or gain admission to the best graduate schools.

Faculty with specific research interests will act as advisors for MQPs with a similar focus. You can find advisors for such topics as analog/electronics sensors, wireless/ DSP/digital communications, biomedical electronics, embedded systems, signal processing, robotics, microwave engineering, and cryptography. Many other topics are available and some students even suggest different and new MQP ideas.

The MQP involves problems typical of those found in the student’s professional discipline and often addresses economical, ethical, and safety issues. These qualifying projects are far from trivial; each requires a substantial part of an academic year. Frequently, projects are sponsored by outside agencies/companies to which students must present their oral and written reports.

The formal application process for MQPs in ECE is conducted in a student’s senior year and begins in November of a student’s junior year. 

For more information about ECE MQP applications, please contact Professor Stephen Bitar.

Finding an ECE MQP at WPI

The ECE department facilitates many MQP opportunities for its students, but it’s the student’s responsibility to identify an MQP. For students in the typical four-year undergraduate track, MQP team forming begins at least by B-Term of the junior year. Most MQPs will be completed in a project team of 3 to 4 students during the senior year, but there are no strict rules on team size or timing.

All MQPs which seek ECE credit MUST include an advisor/co-advisor from the full-time ECE department faculty, or someone authorized by the ECE department to supervise ECE MQPs. You must use this advisor’s name when registering for your project. This advisor will be your ECE advisor-of-record and assign all grades.

Here are the primary manners in which students find an MQP:

Off-Campus MQPs (Global Projects Program):

The ECE department currently participates in several off-campus MQP centers: China Project Center (China), MITRE Corporation (Bedford, MA), MIT Lincoln Laboratory (Lexington, MA), Silicon Valley (California), and Wall Street (New York and London).

The MITRE and Lincoln Lab programs are non-residential (you reside in your normal WPI housing and are bused daily) and only accept U.S. citizens. These global project centers complete their MQP in one term (extensions are made for double-majors) and no other undergraduate courses are taken during this term. All projects are industry-initiated and sponsored. More details are available on the IGSD website.

  • Applying: Recruiting for these projects is organized and scheduled by IGSD. In A-Term of their sophomore and junior years, students can learn about the centers at the IGSD project fair. Students attend information meetings during the first week of B-Term in their junior year. Students must then apply through IGSD to one or more centers by the second week of B-Term in their junior year.

Applicants are interviewed by the project center directors. Most MQP team selection is completed prior to the end of B-Term. Once C-Term begins, there are rarely opportunities for students to apply for these projects. For advance/additional information, contact the center director for each interested site, as listed on the IGSD web pages.


MQPs Formally Offered by the ECE Faculty:

Concurrent with the IGSD recruiting in B-Term of the junior year, many ECE faculty will offer senior-year MQPs. Some of these projects are industry-sponsored. Some of these projects are completed in one term (usually in cooperation with an industry sponsor), but most are completed on-campus in three terms.

This recruiting is “kicked-off” with a meeting during the second week of B-Term. Thereafter, the timing of how applications proceed is set by each individual faculty member for each of their offered projects. The ECE department undergraduate web pages contain a partial list of available projects. Students are encouraged to contact the individual faculty member directly to discuss any project of interest. Some faculty have their own application requirements, and a common department-wide application is used some years.

  • Applying: The primary recruiting for these projects occurs in B-Term of the junior year. Find out about projects at the B-Term ECE MQP meeting, and year-round from the undergraduate pages of the ECE web site. Some projects will fill up during B-Term of the junior year. Others might be available into the spring of the junior year or later. Each faculty member sets his/her deadline for forming a team, although many will follow a schedule that is similar to that of the IGSD off-campus projects.


Other Faculty-Generated Projects:

Many ECE faculty have other project ideas that are not formally offered during B-Term of the junior year. Some of these projects will be listed on the ECE undergraduate web page (MQP section). These projects are made available on an ongoing basis. Contact faculty directly about these opportunities. You can also speak to faculty about generating a new project idea in their research area (of course, with yourself as a member of the project team).

  • Applying: Find the idea on the ECE undergraduate web page or directly from a faculty member. Apply with that faculty member. Opportunities are ongoing, but the later you wait, the more likely that a project team has already been selected or that faculty member has committed to other projects with his/her advising time.


Student-Generated Project Ideas:

Some of our intrepid students develop MQP ideas of their own. Such students are advised to directly contact faculty who you think might be capable and willing to advise. It is additionally helpful if you can identify a full (or partial) project team, in addition to yourself. The ECE undergraduate web pages list faculty interests. Again, you must find an advisor who is a full-time ECE faculty member or who is authorized to advise ECE MQPs.

  • Applying: Be proactive and recruit your own faculty member. The timing for doing so is ongoing, although many faculty members will have already committed to a full slate of MQPs by the end of B-Term of your junior year. When you visit a faculty member, it is useful to bring a one-page (maximum) write-up of your project idea and your up-to-date ECE Program Tracking form. It is also helpful to have already recruited other project team members.


Interdisciplinary Projects:

A growing number of ECE students are finding MQPs with a primary faculty advisor from another WPI department (e.g., Robotics Engineering and Biomedical Engineering). If that advisor is authorized to supervise ECE MQPs (ask him/her—they will know if they are authorized), then you do not require a separate ECE advisor.

Alternatively, some of the supervisors from other departments work with the same ECE co-advisors routinely. If not, you must recruit your own ECE co-advisor. In any case, an authorized ECE MQP advisor must be a part of the project supervision. You must use this advisor’s name when registering for the project.

  • Applying: Contact the faculty supervisor from the other WPI department. Recruiting for interdisciplinary projects can begin as early as B-Term of the junior year (or earlier), depending on the department.


What to Do If You Are Unable to Find a Project

The department does not “assign” students to projects or “enroll” them in a manner similar to regular classes. The fundamental responsibility for securing a project is the student’s. If you are unable to find a project and it is late in your junior year (or later), here are some options:

  • Speak with your ECE student peers to see if any existing MQPs could benefit from the addition of yourself to the team.
  • Check the ECE department undergraduate MQP page to determine if any MQPs are still being offered. If so, contact those faculty.
  • Contact the ECE office and leave your name as a student who is still looking for an MQP. One administrative assistant in the office is designated as the central information point for this problem, working together with one ECE faculty member. The administrative assistant will alert you to any other students who are in a similar situation. It may be to your advantage to try to form a new team together, and then look for a project and advisor.
  • Speak with faculty directly about any MQP openings. In-person solicitation is usually best. Bring an up-to-date ECE Program Tracking form, as some faculty will ask to see it.

See What an MQP Is All About

Major Qualifying Projects are professional quality work. See what some past winners' projects looked like.