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Learning starts in the classroom, but impact starts out in the world. As part of the WPI Plan, our students engage in hands-on, real-world project work at the heart of theory and practice. Two projects in particular, the Major and Interactive Qualifying Projects, are a chance for students to drive social impact firsthand. 

Learn more about project-based learning at WPI.

Major Qualifying Project (MQP)

Every undergraduate student at WPI completes a Major Qualifying Project (MQP)—a high-level, often team-based, senior research capstone. As an integral element of WPI’s project-based learning plan, the MQP offers students advanced and invaluable experience in their field as they prepare to enter the job market or apply to graduate school. After rigorous work and a substantial time commitment, the MQP culminates with a published project report and formal presentation on the campus-wide “Project Presentation Day” in the spring. 

Featured SSPS MQPs

HIV/AIDS in Namibia and Thailand: A Comparative Policy Study

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been impacting people globally since the early 1980s. As the disease spread around the world, both Namibia and Thailand were identified as epicenters. Currently, Namibia continues to struggle with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, whereas Thailand has been hailed as a success story. This study examined whether the lessons learned from Thailand can be applied to Namibian policy development and provided a series of recommendations.

Improving Oral Contraceptives: Encouraging Research into Oral Contraceptives and Their Side Effects

This project encourages research into oral contraceptives (OCs) and their side effects and serves as a blueprint for further research. Survey data was collected on participants’ experiences with OCs. This data was used to compare brands of OCs according to side effects reported. A Side Effects Troubleshooting Tool (SETT) was also designed. This tool is provided as a resource for patients, a reference for healthcare providers, and a blueprint for future research and development. This project made a step toward addressing the side effects of OCs by listening to the experiences of people who have used OCs, conducting initial research into the problem, and encouraging further research to improve experiences with OCs for all. 

Route 12 & 31 Intersection Design: Fitchburg, Massachusetts

An intersection located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts has experienced a high number of crashes recently. To address the current and foreseeable issues, a short-term and long-term design was provided to the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission. A geometric improvement on Westminster Street was selected as the short-term recommendation along with the addition of a traffic signal to the intersection as the long-term recommendation. ATR counts, manual turning movement counts, and speed studies were conducted. In addition, a level-of-service analysis and a signal warrant analysis were done. The team met with multiple agencies including Montachusett Regional Planning Commission, MassDOT, and the Public Works Department for Fitchburg to gain additional insight on the intersection. 

Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP)

Generally completed in a student’s junior year, the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) is a chance for students to work on interdisciplinary teams and address community challenges at the intersection of STEM and society. Most IQPs are completed abroad through the Global Projects Program at one of WPI’s 50+ project centers across the globe, though IQP opportunities are also available on-campus and in local communities.

Qualifying Projects for Double Majors

Students double majoring in SSPS and another degree must complete an MQP for each major; however, these students are not required to complete a separate IQP as a university requirement. See Resources for more information about SSPS double majors. 

Looking for an MQP or IQP?

Have a specific project idea in mind? Reach out to our SSPS faculty to find an advisor and get your idea off the ground. You can also find and propose MQPs through WPI’s MQP search on eProjects. Proposed IQP opportunities can be found through the eProjects database.  

For instructions on registering for MQPs and IQPs, see the Registrar