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Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities

Awarded by

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 its reunion in 1900, the Class of 1879 endowed this prize for a paper "on a topic of general interest." The endowment was continued by Spencer Miller 1879, who wanted “to encourage graduates of the Institute to develop the art of clear and lucid English in the discussion of engineering subjects.”  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.  

The Class of 1879 Prize has evolved alongside WPI.  Today’s prize-winning projects rarely concern engineering subjects, and some aren’t even traditional essays.  But we still honor the spirit of Mr. Miller’s prize, to encourage and reward the highest achievements of human expression. 

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

Note: Prizes awarded for projects completed the previous year.

Browse Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities awardees

Year Recipient Award level Type Details
2021 Alison Drapeau advisor: Lindsay Davis Winner Undergraduate

"Proposing Universal Policy to De-Feminize Childcare"

2021 Kalina Bonofiglio advisor: Joe Aguilar Winner Undergraduate

"Blue Sky Society"

2021 Robbie Oleynick advisor: Laura Eckelman Winner Undergraduate

"Scoring A Silent Sky"

2021 Paul A. Pacheco Jr. & Vanessa Van DeMark advisor: Kristin Boudreau Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Addressing the Gender Gap in STEM Education with Classroom Interventions"

2021 Sage Ortega-Shue advisor: Joseph Cullon Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"The Appropriation of Defensible Space"

2020 Cosette Domkofski Winner Undergraduate

“Those Who Endure,” advisor: Joseph Aguilar

2020 Johanna Whitwell Winner Undergraduate

'Evaluating the Influence of Italian Fascism on Brazilian Integralism and the Vargas Regime' advisor: John Galante

2020 Minh Anh Kieu Winner Undergraduate

“Insiders, Outsiders, and In-Between: Asian Nonimmigrant Experience in the American Context of Intersectional Racism" advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2020 Julia Milks Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Psychiatric Healthcare in Morocco,” advisor: Rebecca Moody

2020 Payton Bielawski Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Sheltered: A Look into the Connection Between Nature and Humankind,” advisor: Marie Keller

2020 Samuel Hopkins Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Development of Single-use Plastics in a Throwaway Culture,” advisor: Joseph Cullon

2019 Carla Duarte Winner Undergraduate

“Saudade: A story of Identity,” advisor: Katharine McIntyre

2019 Kamryn Spinelli Winner Undergraduate

“The Jewish Exodus from Morocco: Gauging the Social Trauma,” advisor: Mohamed Brahimi

2019 Petra Kumi Winner Undergraduate

“Understanding the Effects of Highly Ideological Music in Thailand From a Structural and Sociocultural Perspective,” advisor: Carlos Odriz

2019 Camryn Berry Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“16:91,” Advisor: Katharine McIntyre

2019 Jackson Powell Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“The impact of Government Intervention of Global Industry: A Case of China and the Solar Energy Industry,” advisor: John Galante

2019 Kristen Antunes Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Local Knowledge and Climate Adaptation,” advisor: William San Martin

2018 Jared Grier Winner Undergraduate

“Acquired Disability and Disruption of the Self,”  advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2018 Jessica Hatt Winner Undergraduate

 “The Drug that Shattered the Nuclear Family,”  advisor: Constance Clark

2018 Neel Dhanaraj Winner Undergraduate

 “An Analysis of the Potential Endangerment of Immigrants Due to Merit-Based Immigration,”  advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2018 Eliot M. Fine Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Worcester: A Farewell Tour,” advisor: Joshua Harmon

2018 Harold Terry Hearst III Honorable Mention Undergraduate

 “The Music of Mario Galaxy,” advisor:  Douglas Weeks

2018 Nde Nkimbeng Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“The Multiple Selves of the Oppressed,” advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2018 Rosa Reynoso Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“The Muslim World in Transition—Rediscovering True Islam,”  advisor: W.A. Bland Addison

2017 Aviv Brest Winner Undergraduate

“An Ethical Framework for the Genetic Engineering of Animals,” advisor: John Sanbonmatsu

2017 Erin Morissette Winner Undergraduate

“Acoustics of the Clarinet and Spaulding Recital Hall,” advisor:  Douglas Weeks

2017 Nicole Mattson Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“For Every Hour:  Twenty-Four Prose Poems,” advisor: Joshua Harmon

2017 Olivia Leavitt Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Repeat and Refrain:  Making A Renaissance Villancico Modern,” advisor: Douglas Weeks

2016 Benjamin Huchley Winner Undergraduate

"Online Avatars: An Expression of the User's Self," advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2016 Cody Slater Winner Undergraduate

"The Temporal Expression of Consciousness," advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2016 Reynaldo Duran Winner Undergraduate

"Painting a Bridge Between Past and Future," advisor: W.A. Bland Addison and Kristin Boudreau

2016 Alex Markoski Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Greatest Influences for Being a Well-Rounded Musician," advisor: Douglas Weeks

2016 Eric Stolz Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"One- and Two-State Peace Solutions in Israel," advisor: W.A. Bland Addison

2015 Kimberly Marrion Winner Undergraduate

“Ethics, Dementia and Family: An Investigation into the Familial Issues that Arise with Dementia Patients,” major: Architectural Engineering, advisor: Bethel Eddy

2015 Paulo Carvalho Winner Undergraduate

“Developing and Composing for a Robotic Organ,” major: Biomedical Engineering and Robotics Engineering, minor: Electrical and Computer Engineering, advisor: Scott Barton

2015 Katherine Picchione Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Pokomchi Pictorial Literacy,” major: Mechanical Engineering and Society, Technology, and Policy, advisor: Ryan Madan

2014 Bohao Li Winner Undergraduate

“Lee Teng-hui and a New Taiwanese Nationalism” Major: Computer Science. Advisor: Jennifer Rudolph

2014 Charlotte Reames Winner Undergraduate

“Gender Roles in Morocco” Major: Biology and Biotechnology. Advisor: W. A. Bland Addison

2014 Jedediah Perron Winner Undergraduate

“Going Out With A Bang: The American Supersonic Transport and the Environmental Movement” Major: Aerospace Engineering. Advisor: Thomas Robertson

2014 Ali Fuat Becan Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Producer as Composer Practicum” Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering. Advisor: Scott Barton (honorable mention)

2014 Xuan He Honorable Mention Undergraduate

“Faith Healing” Major: Biomedical Engineering. Advisor: Bethel Eddy

2013 Damien Cabral Winner Undergraduate

"The Origins of Muslim Extremism" , advisor:  W.A. Bland Addison

2013 Jesse Lehman Winner Undergraduate

"A Discussion of 20th Century Musical Techniques and Their Presence in Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gruppen“ , advisor: Douglas Weeks

2013 Shreyas Renganathan Winner Undergraduate

"Undeterminism: Materially Realizing Free Will", advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2013 Rachel Handel Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"The Towers Sesquicentennial Edition", advisor: James Cocola

2013 Robert Dabrowski Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"Do Robots Have Freedom?", advisor: Jennifer McWeeny

2013 Victoria Carlson Honorable Mention Undergraduate

"The President's Shot, Now What?", advisor: M. David Samson

2012 Christopher Bannon Winner Undergraduate

“Transgenic Animals and the Catholic Church”, Advisor:  Bethel Eddy

2012 Justin Rice Winner Undergraduate

“Modernization in the Western Himalayas: Himachal Pradesh and the Apple Industry”, Advisor:  Thomas Robertson

2012 Xiuping Chen Winner Undergraduate

"Origins and Characteristics of Chinese Cyber Nationalism”, Advisor:  Jennifer Rudolph