Teaching Innovation Grants

This internal grants program is offered annually, typically with a February deadline. The overall goal is to enrich learning experiences for students and foster a climate of teaching innovation by supporting WPI educators to seed new initiatives in undergraduate and graduate education that meet identifiable needs at WPI. The Morgan Teaching and Learning Center, the Office of Undergraduate Studies, the Academic Technology Center (ATC), and the Educational Development Council (EDC) provide about $150,000 in funding to three types of grants aimed at supporting innovation in undergraduate and graduate education. 

  1. Professional Learning Community Grants: Previously called Faculty Learning Communities, a Professional Learning Community (PLC) is a group of WPI community members from multiple disciplines engaging in collegial inquiry, action, and collective learning around a central theme in the area of pedagogical development or educational development and innovation. These grants are awarded by the EDC, ATC, and Morgan Center.
  2. Course and Program Projects: This grant mechanism is intended for applicants, either individuals or small groups, whose project is aimed at department or program-level impact rather than campus-wide impact. These grants are also awarded by the EDC, ATC, and Morgan Center.
  3. Summer Sandbox Grants: These grants from Undergraduate Studies support individual faculty or groups of faculty who design and test new approaches to teaching and advising in an undergraduate summer course or project, using summer as a learning laboratory for the academic year. 

This program does not fund routine updating or renewal of courses, curricula, or teaching methods.


Teaching Innovation Grant Recipients 2023

Professional Learning Community Grants

Investigating the Role of GPT in the Curriculum

The faculty and staff in this PLC will explore the applications and implications of recent advances in artificial intelligence (such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or DALL-E) in higher ed. Merging perspectives on pedagogies of literacy, metacognition, ungrading, ethics, and workforce development, this PLC’s members will implement curricular changes in courses, and collaborate to develop 1) a course materials repository and 2) a multimedia essay on pedagogical approaches in this next age of AI.  

Farley Chery, Associate Professor of Teaching, Interactive Media & Game Development

ChatGPT: Opportunities, Ethics, and Equity

Tim Loew, Executive Director, Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi)

AI Makerspace: Supporting a Culture of Ethical Impact and Innovation

Stacy Shaw, Assistant Professor, Social Science and Policy Studies

Creative AI as a Tool for Reflection on the Creative Self

Gillian Smith (co-facilitator), Associate Professor and Director, Interactive Media & Game Development

Ungrading Uncertainty: Reflection-Based Self-Assessment for Ethical Engagement with Creative AI

Yunus Telliel (co-facilitator), Assistant Professor, Humanities and Arts

Rhetorical Machines: LLMs, Authorship, and Writing with Machines

PreviewRole of GPT Winners

Independent Project Grants

Lab on Cart: Developing a Low-Cost Fluid Visualization Setup for Experiential Learning, Class Demonstration and Outreach

Flow visualization has traditionally been used as an intuitive way to understand complex and often unseen flow dynamics. However, typical flow visualization methods are often costly, unsafe for public use, and time-consuming to set up, which limits the ability for untrained students to participate in experimentation and exploration.  This project aims to develop a low-cost, safe, and portable flow visualization system, paired with an open-source program. This setup will be utilized for class experiments, student projects, and demonstrations for outreach efforts.

Alireza Ebadi (PI), Assistant Teaching Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering

Ahmet Can Sabuncu, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Mechanical & Materials Engineering

PreviewLab on Cart Winner

The Methods to our Madness: A “How to” Podcast Exploring Qualitative Research

We will create a podcast series on qualitative research methods to support the teaching and implementation of ID 2050 and beyond. Our goal is to make qualitative methods more accessible to students and community researchers. The first season will focus on fundamental how-to aspects of conducting qualitative research and feature student insights on conducting community-based work.  We anticipate that this podcast will reach over 100 students and additional community researchers annually.

Courtney Kurlanska (PI), Assistant Professor of Teaching, The Global School

Laura Roberts, Assistant Teaching Professor, The Global School

PreviewPodcast Exploring Qual winners

Developing a Mobile App to Visualize Gradient Fields in Complex Structural Geometries

The aim of this project is to develop a mobile-based application to visualize and analyze gradient fields of different engineering parameters such as stress, temperature and displacement in complex structural geometries. The current learning approach includes development of analytical solutions to tackle problems of stress and displacement without any interactive visualization. Moreover, there is slow feedback process through assignments from an instructor. The application developed in this project will provide instant feedback along with data extraction from simulations and visualizations.

Mehul Bhatia, Assistant Teaching Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering

PreviewMobile App Geometries winner

Purposeful Pathways for Students: Mapping my Global WPI Experience

WPI affirms that our students should have a deep, intentional relationship with global learning and their capacity to engage in the world.  This demands an intentional approach towards the planning and realization of the full student experience.  At present, we lack a comprehensive plan for connecting student global learning experiences, assessing effectiveness, and developing student agency to create individualized global plans.  We propose developing tools to help students to make meaning of their global opportunities in a thoughtful, reflective pathway.

Sarah Stanlick, Assistant Professor and GPS Director, The Global School

Joe Cullon, Professor of Teaching and Associate Head, Humanities & Arts

Rebecca Moody, Assistant Teaching Professor and Co-Founder & Co-Director, Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies Program

Laureen Elgert, Department Head and Associate Professor, The Global School

Gbetonmasse Somasse, Associate Professor of Teaching, Social Science & Policy Studies

Esther Boucher-Yip, Professor of Teaching and Associate Head for Modern Languages and Writing, Humanities & Arts

PreviewPurposeful pathways picture



Summer Sandbox Grants

March CADness! An Annual Computer-Aided Design (CAD)Competition 

I propose creating an annual tournament using a bracket system, where students who have learned computer-aided design (CAD) can compete against their peers.  This tournament aims to promote class rivalry, departmental recognition, and the opportunity to gain a certificate that can be included on resumes, which I hypothesize will increase student engagement and interest in the CAD course. 

Alireza Ebadi, Assistant Teaching Professor, Mechanical and Materials Engineering 

PreviewMarch CADness winner

Integrated Lecture-Lab Intro Physics 

The principles of physics provide a foundation for all areas of engineering and natural sciences, making introductory physics courses high demand and high priority. Existing courses include laboratory exercises as stand-alone components, complicating meaningful connections between lab activities and lecture material. To professionalize our students’ understanding of the nature of science and epistemology, we will transition our class to integrate problem solving  and  hands on learning that  meets  students’ needs for deep comprehension of physics concepts and their practical applications. 

Benjamin Pollard (PI), Assistant Teaching Professor, Physics

Thomas Patrick Noviello, Instructor, Physics

L Dana, Teaching Lab Manager, Physics

Kateryna Friedman, Assistant Research Professor, Physics

PreviewIntegrated lecture lab winners

Teaching Speculative Fiction Across Delivery Modes  

This summer I'm teaching speculative fiction (yes, science fiction, but also alternate history, dystopian and utopian fiction, fantasy, horror, superhero, and supernatural fiction) in both hybrid and remote modalities, in person and/or online. Teaching speculative fiction across these delivery modes will also enable speculative thinking about teaching: its superheroes, alternate histories, present practices, and future possibilities. In the process, I aim to discern fantasies from horror stories and utopian possibilities from dystopian outcomes in and beyond the twenty-first century classroom. 

 Jim Cocola, Professor, Humanities & Arts

PreviewDelivery Mode Winner

WPI Math Readiness Program 

This new program will enable successful enrollment at WPI for students who would be great candidates but are missing the prerequisite math knowledge for admissions. By creating a math pathway, prior to A-Term enrollment and taught by our own Mathematical Sciences faculty, we can provide needed remediation, build strong relationships, and open doors to successful matriculation. 

Carly Thorp (PI), Professor of Practice, Mathematical Sciences

Debra Boucher, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Jennifer Cluett, Dean of Admissions

PreviewMath Readiness picture

A Student Toolkit: How to Read Art  

This project is a collaborative effort by two HUA faculty from different disciplines. We plan to develop a toolkit that helps students connect art and culture. Faculty advisors and students in the summer HUA project center programs can use these materials to acquire knowledge needed to reflect critically and analytically about art and culture. The toolkit is designed for students with no or limited background in art and art history to help them develop an appreciation for artistic and cultural knowledge of people, culture, and context.  

Esther Boucher-Yip (PI), Professor of Teaching, Humanities & Arts

Michelle Borowski, Adjunct Instructor, Humanities & Arts

PreviewHow to Read Art winners

Women in Humanities and Arts 

I’d like to explore tools to better improve the teaching of the course HU 2901: Topics in Sexuality and LGBTQ+ Studies. I will use films, books, and any other primary sources available. Particularly, I will concentrate on Women’s Studies/LGBTQ+. The collected information will be posted on Canvas. This project will start a database that can be expanded. 

Ingrid E. Matos-Nin, Teaching Professor, Humanities & Arts

PreviewWomen in HUA winner