Class of 1879 Prize

The Class of 1879 Prize is awarded by the Humanities & Arts department yearly for excellent work in the culminating project for the Humanities & Arts Requirement. These projects must demonstrate exceptional creativity and skill in conceiving, developing, and expressing a theme within any discipline in the humanities and arts.  

History of the Prize

WPI has recognized exemplary work in the humanities and arts since 1872, when the department of English and Modern Languages established an award for the best paper in composition classes. At their reunion in 1900, the Class of 1879 endowed this prize for a paper "on a topic of general interest." The Class of 1879 Prize was then awarded annually to the best term paper in the departments of English, History, and Languages until the adoption of the WPI Plan in 1970. In 1983, the department of Humanities & Arts began to award the Class of 1879 Prize to the best Humanities Requirement Projects.

Competition for the 2014 Class of 1879 Awards is now closed.


Award Winners

2015 (for projects completed in 2014):


  • Bohao  Li,  “Lee Teng-hui and a New Taiwanese Nationalism” Major: Computer Science. Advisor: Jennifer Rudolph
  • Jedediah Perron, “Going Out With A Bang: The American Supersonic Transport and the Environmental Movement” Major: Aerospace Engineering. Advisor: Thomas Robertson
  • Charlotte Reames, “Gender Roles in Morocco” Major: Biology and Biotechnology. Advisor: W. A. Bland Addison

Honorable Mention:

  • Ali Fuat Becan, “Producer as Composer Practicum” Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering. Advisor: Scott Barton
  • Xuan He, “Faith Healing” Major: Biomedical Engineering. Advisor: Bethel Eddy

2014 (for projects completed in 2013):


  • Damien Cabral, 2014 (Biology and Biochemistry), "The Origins of Muslim Extremism" Advisor:  W.A. Bland Addison
  • Jesse Lehman (Biology and Biotechnology), "A Discussion of 20th Century Musical Techniques and Their Presence in Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gruppen" Advisor: Douglas Weeks
  • Shreyas Renganathan (Biomedical Engineering), "Undeterminism: Materially Realizing Free Will" Advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

Honorable Mention:

  •   Robert Dabrowski, (Robotics and Computer Science), "Do Robots Have Freedom?" Advisor: Jennifer McWeeny
  •   Rachel Handel (Chemical Engineering), "The Towers Sesquicentennial Edition" Advisor: James Cocola
  •   Victoria Carlson (Mechanical Engineering), "The President's Shot, Now What?" Advisor: M. David Samson

2013 (for projects completed in 2012):


  • Christopher Bannon, 2013, “Transgenic Animals and the Catholic Church”, Advisor:  Bethel Eddy
  • Xiuping Chen, 2012, “Origins and Characteristics of Chinese Cyber Nationalism”, Advisor:  Jennifer Rudolph
  • Justin Rice, 2015, “Modernization in the Western Himalayas: Himachal Pradesh and the Apple Industry”, Advisor:  Thomas Robertson

Honorable Mention:

  • Syed Athar Bin Amir, 2013, “An Evaluation of the Terror”, Advisor:  Bland Addison
  • Ting Ting Wang, 2013, “Union Carbide and the Bhopal Incident: An American Company in a Third World Nation During the Cold War”, Advisor:  Thomas Robertson

2012 (for projects completed in 2011):


  • Sarah Conlin, 2014, "Infamy: The Before After", Advisor James Cocola
  • Ashik Gowdar, 2012, "Muted Musing", Advisor: Joseph Farbook
  • Peter Osswald, 2012, "America's War in Afghanistan", Advisor Bland Addison

Honorable Mention:

  • Sarah Sawatzki, 2014, "Women in Stone: Public Displays of Feminine Tenacity in London", Advisor John Delorey
  • Mariah Seaboldt, 2013, "The House on Berkshire Street", Advisor: Michelle Ephraim

2011 (for projects completed in 2010):


  • Kassondra Hickey, 2013, “Interactive Media Art,” advisor: Joseph Farbrook
  • Craig Mitchell, 2012 “The John Hancock Tower,” advisor: M. David Samson
  • Mortada Najem, 2012, “Human Applicable Cloning: the Islamic Debate,” advisor: Bethel Eddy

Honorable Mention:

  • Aakrit Bhakhri, 2012 “Muslim Separatism and Identity in India: Aftermath of the Partition of 1947,” advisor: Ruth Smith
  • Mark Hayden, 2012, “Transmarginal Inhibition in Gravity’s Rainbow,” advisor: Lance Schachterle
  • Xiaoyun Wang & Chang Liu 2012, “The Saint Archer” (animated short film), advisor: Joshua Rosenstock

2010 (for projects completed in 2009):


  • Sarah Albrecht '11, "Motives for Change: Signac's Stylistic Shift," advisor: D. Samson
  • Jeffrey Marrion '11, "Philosophy and Film: Existentialism and Place," advisor: J. Sanbonmatsu
  • Michael Szkutak '12, "Presidential Electioneering in the Television Age," advisor: J. Hanlan

Honorable Mention:

  • Heather Bell '12, "Celtic Music Throughout the UK," advisor: J. Delorey
  • Don Havener '09, "The Encyclopedia and the Third Estate," advisor B. Addison
  • Everett Tripp '11, "Why They Fought: The Working Class in Empire," advisor: P. Hansen

2009 (for projects completed in 2008):


  • Andrew Marchese '10, "Origins of Emergent Order: The Inadequacy of Reductionism and the Complexity of Light Phenomena," advisor: David Spanagel
  • Richard Pampuro '09, "Right within Anarchism," advisor: John Sanbonmatsu
  • Maggie Allard '10, "The Butterfly (animated short)," advisor: Joshua Rosenstock

Honorable Mention:

  • Rui Dai '10, "Red and the Rest (a memoir)," advisor: Lorraine Higgins
  • Kirk Lanciani '10, "Soaring on the Ground: The Flight Simulator," advisor: E. Malcom Parkinson
  • Ryan Whetstone '10, "Jazz Saxophone Performance; From Swing to Fusion," advisor: Richad Falco

2008 (for projects completed in 2007):

  • Rebecca C. Baron '09, “A Change in Expectations: Staging of Dueling in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet,” advisor Michelle Ephraim
  • Craig D. DiGiovanni '09, “The Planning and Implementation of Denazification in Post War Germany,” advisor David Dollenmayer
  • Lucas Samuel Lincoln '09, “An Analysis of Pat Metheny as a Jazz Composer,” advisor Richard Falco

2007 (for projects completed in 2006):

  • Benjamin W. Dwyer '08, "Spirits of the Dead: a Musical Composition," advisor: Richard Falco
  • Amanda J. Tarbet '07, "Multimodal Tensions in the Graphic Novel," advisor: Ruth Smith
  • Eric G. Wilusz '08, "Competing Visions for Technical Education: the Founding of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Worcester Polytechnic Institute," advisor: David Spanagel

2006 (for projects completed in 2005):

  • Charles A. Gammal III '08, "John Boynton: Farmer to Founder," advisor: David Rawson
  • Karim G. Makram '06, "Breaking Out," advisor: Lorraine Higgins
  • Hilal Tetik '08, "Robert Fludd's 'De Musica Mundana' and the Ideals of the Rasicrucian Brotherhood," advisor: Lee Fontanella

2005 (for projects submitted in 2004):

  • Laura E. Baldassari '06, "Flute Music of the Classical Period," advisor: Douglas G. Weeks
  • Patrick A. Hogan '06, "Dying by Inches: Imperialism and Asian Famines," advisor: Peter H. Hansen
  • Steven J. Tufo '05, "Considering the Absurd, Judgment, and Love: Albert Camus' Revolt Against Death," advisor: John Sanbonmatsu

2004 (for projects submitted in 2003):

  • Griffin R. Bryant '05, Torment: a Story," advisor: Michelle K. Ephraim
  • Ryan Patrick Jones '05, "Ministry: a Screenplay," advisor: Dean O'Donnell
  • Gregory I. Ratner '06, "The Outcomes of the 'Record War': History of the Record Industry, 1930-1955," advisor: Michael M. Sokal

2003 (for projects submitted in 2002):

  • Kimberly Johnstone '04, "The United States Supreme Court: The 2000 Presidential Election," advisor: JoAnn Manfra
  • Amanda A. Roberts '04, "Sequencing within the Short Story Collection: An Experiment in Design and Practice," advisor: John Trimbur
  • Benjamin K. Sandofsky '04, "The Shawl: The Study and Application of David Mamet's Filmmaking Theories," advisor: Dean O'Donnell

2002 (for projects submitted in 2001):

  • Brendan Morris, '04, "Rastro: The Essence of Madrid," advisor: Lee Fontanella
  • Jennifer Persico, '03, "The Jump From Resentment to Revolution," advisor: Deborah Gray
  • Lauren Wojtkun, '02, "Like the World of Dreams Itself': An Analysis of William Shakespeare's Use of the Green World in A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It," advisor: Michelle Ephraim

2001 (for projects submitted in 2000):

  • Florentin Groeli, '03, "British Jazz, or Jazz in Britain?," advisor: Douglas G. Weeks
  • Janaki Kirloskar, '03, "A Glimpse of Reality in the Hindu Temple," advisor: Ruth Smith
  • Emily Reynolds, '01, "Becoming a Woman: A Look at the Influences of Patriarchy, Materialism and Relationships in The Great Gatsby and The Color Purple," advisor: Lisa Lebduska

2000 (for projects submitted in 1999):

  • Amelia A. Gilbreath '01, "Flute Recital," advisor: Douglas G. Weeks
  • Richard E. Harang '00, "Mind and Materialism," advisor: Marianne Janack
  • Corbin T. Hodder '01, "Toothpaste and Orange Juice: a Play," advisor: Dean O'Donnell

1999 (for projects submitted in 1998):

  • Quach B. Hai '98, "Self-Sponsoring Writing at WPI," advisor: John M. Trimbur
  • Siu L. Ng '99, "Interwar Progress in Aerial Photographic Mapping," advisor: E. Malcolm Parkinson
  • Ian E. Parmenter '00 "A Work in Progress: a Screenplay," advisor: Dean M. O'Donnell

1998 (for projects submitted in 1997):

  • Jeffrey L. Bayko, '99, "The Road to Jensenism (1923-1969)," advisor: Michael M. Sokal
  • Janet L. Brennan, '00, "A Consideration of Consciousness Explained," advisor: Roger S. Gottlieb
  • Daniel Murphy, '98, "The American Dream: Has it Become Unreachable," advisor: William A. Baller

1997 (for projects submitted in 1996):

  • Greg Amiro, '97, "The Rock n' Roll Renaissance," advisor: Douglas G. Weeks
  • Andrea Kodys, '98, "Promises, Policies and Goals: The U.S. Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934," advisor: James Watters
  • Mickey Lacroix, '97, "A Critique of Husserlian Phenomenology," advisor: Bettina Bergo

1996 (for projects submitted in 1995):

  • John D. Kedziora, '96, "The Failure of Command," advisor: James E. Watters
  • Patricia L. Panlillo, '96, "Toni Morrison's Women: Strengths and Variations," advisor: Laura J. Menides
  • Nancy L. Round, '97, "The Origins of Violent Behavior: A Look at Behavior Genetics, Modern Biology, Serotonin, and the Ethics Involving Criminals," advisor: Thomas A. Shannon

1995 (for projects submitted in 1994):

  • Karl F. Dicker, '96, "A Comprehensive History of Black Baseball," advisor: Deborah Gray
  • Shaun P. Heaney, '96, The Construction of New Union Station: A Product of Worcester's Grade Crossing Problem," advisor: James P. Watters
  • Scott J. Higgins, '96, "Who Am I? The Problem of Identity," advisor: Bettina Bergo

1994 (for projects submitted in 1993):

  • Ahmed S. Al-Baiti, '95, "Decorative Art of Door Carving on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands," advisor: David Samson
  • Christopher G. McKeever, '95, "From an Alphabet to Strange and Interesting Designs: an Analysis" of Musical Notation," advisor: Douglas G. Weeks
  • Henry R. McTague, '94, "Do Animals Have Rights?," advisor: Bettina Bergo

1993 (for projects submitted in 1992):

  • Chad L. Council, '94, "From Love Comes the Pieces of a Broken Heart - A Play," advisor: Susan Vick
  • Lily Lau, '94, "The Monster in the Closet of Our Souls: The Gothic and Wuthering Heights," advisor: Joel Brattin
  • Kevin M. Parker, '94, "The Society of Friends - Antislavery Pioneers," advisor: Steven C. Bullock

1992 (for projects submitted in 1991):

  • Eric R. Bell, '92, "Reagan Administration Foreign Policy Toward Dictatorships: A Comparative Study"
  • Matthew R. Bontell, '93, "The Flood: A Suite for Brass Quartet"
  • Stephen T. Kapushoc, '94, "The Knowledge and Vision of Loren Eiseley"

1991 (for projects submitted in 1990):

  • Athena Demetry, '91, "The Individual in Israeli and Palestinian Literature"
  • Bernard L. Dion, '92, "The Risk of Slavery: Warning Through Structure in 'Benito Cereno'"
  • John A. MacNeill, '92, "Tellurian Suite for Synthesizers, Clarinet and Flute"
  • Joseph M. Sabatini, '92, "The Machine Gun as a Reflection of America Industry"

1990 (for projects submitted in 1989):

  • Jeffrey L. Quirke, '90, "Tragedy and the Gothic," advisor: Kent P. Ljungquist
  • Sharon A. Savage, '91, "How the Organic and Mechanistic Conceptions of Life Apply to the Body and to Medicine," advisor: Iris Young
  • Paul F. Wojiak, '91, "Obstinacy and Naïveté: The Organized Labor Movement in Worcester, Massachusetts, During the 1930's," advisor: Robert L. Kolesar

1989 (for projects submitted in 1988):

  • Christopher J. Buntil, '90, "Give and Take: Anencephalic Babies as Organ Donors," advisor: Thomas A. Shannon
  • Marc J. Champagne, '89, "American Gas Mask Research During World War I," advisor: W.A. Bland Addison
  • Jeanette M. Cheetham, '89, "The Mask: a Window to Understand the Eskimos," advisor: Ruth Smith

1988 (for projects submitted in 1987):

  • Shawn D. Harrison, '89, "Niépce, Daguerre and Talbot: the Motives Behind the Men," advisor: E. Malcolm Parkinson
  • Edward C. Hein, '88, "A Psychological Assessment of Lee Iacocca," advisor: Patrick P. Dunn
  • Richard D. June, '89, "William Carlos Williams' Paterson: the Voice of a Nation," advisor: Laura J. Menides

1987 (for projects submitted in 1986):

  • Chrysanthe Demetry, '88, "Healing and Growing: American Civil War Fiction," advisor: John Zeugner
  • Robert Provost, '88, "African Percussion," advisors: David McKay and Richard Falco
  • Nancy Teasdale, '88, "I Don't Have to Cry for the Rest of My Life," advisor: Susan Vick

1986 (for projects submitted in 1985):

  • Jeanne M. Benjamin, '86, "Pet-Facilitated Therapy for the Elderly"
  • Charles Champagne, '87, "Konrad Adenauer Erster Kanzler der Bundesrepublik," and "Ahnlichkeiten zwichen der Franzozischen Revolution und der Deutschen Revolution von 1848"
  • Rita Patel, '88, "The Light Burning in the Heart: A Comparative Analysis of the Concepts of the Soul in Hinduism, Plato, and Aristotle"

1985 (for projects submitted in 1984):

  • Barbara Jean Gray, '86, "The Development of American Blackfaced Minstrelsy"
  • Walter F. Precourt, III, '86, "Henry V: Shakespeare's Ideal King"
  • Daniel Weinshenker, '84, "Facing Nuclear Threat"

1984 (for projects submitted in 1983):

  • Julie Anne Beberman '84
  • Martin Joseph Pierce '85
  • JoAnne Shatkin '85
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Details for each year's competition are announced in November/December, with a deadline for submission in January. For information on the competition and how to submit your project for consideration, please contact the HUA office at ext. 5246 or at