Through the Great Problems Seminar (GPS), small teams of first year students and faculty step outside their disciplines to solve problems focused on themes of global importance. This two-term course immerses students into university-level research and introduces them to the project-based curriculum at WPI.
Starting with the biology of an infectious disease and moving on to the management of disease control, students study the costs of research and regulation required to bring new drugs to market and learn to examine problems with local complexity and global scale.
Focused on material resources and reusing and recycling them, students blend engineering with humanities, collaborate with the NSF Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling (CR3), and work on projects sponsored by leading global corporations.
Students examine causes, trends, impacts, and solutions to land use changes, climate variability, loss of habitat and biodiversity, and more from scientific, ethical, and philosophical, and technological perspectives to gain a more complete picture of such challenges and possible ways of addressing them.
Students work in teams with the support of faculty (and potentially community sponsors) to research and develop technological, chemical, biological, policy driven, and other types of solutions to help examine factors of chronic hunger, malnutrition, and feeding rising populations across the globe.
Should where you grow up and go to school determine how well you do in life? This course examines educational systems around the world and explores how factors like nature and nurture, opportunity and outcome, and the availability of educational technology affect a person’s life.
Every community faces energy problems. This course investigates the depth and breadth of energy production, transmission, and use, and explores the technical, social, economic, and environmental effects and challenges of power generation from both fossil fuels and renewable energy.
With a changing climate and growing global population, the availability and sustainability of fresh clean water is in question. In this course, students work in teams to identify a specific water problem and research and develop technological, policy driven, ecological, and other types of solutions.
Every year, GPS hosts two Poster Presentation Days to celebrate students’ innovative research on a wide range of solutions to some of the world’s most critical challenges.