WPI Yearbook Goes High-Tech

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - The Peddler, WPI's yearbook, could be getting a livelier, more contemporary sibling that will propel it into the forefront of its genre thanks to the work of four WPI undergraduates. Matt Greenwood of Duxbury, Mass., Peter Sagerson of Grapeview, Wash., Michelle Vadeboncoeur of Assonet, Mass., and Theo Van Dinter of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, have created a multimedia supplement to The Peddler in the form of a CD-ROM that includes audio and video clips, elements of virtual reality, and additional still photographs. The students used HTML to create a prototype CD that will be viewable with a standard graphical Web browser.

"The Digital Peddler will enable us to display information in ways that are impossible with the traditional book format," say the students, who came up with the idea after viewing a CNN program that featured a similar project completed by students at Lincoln-Sudbury High School in Sudbury, Mass. "If a high school could produce this type of technologically advanced yearbook, we wondered why a renowned engineering school like WPI couldn't do it, too."

In the course of their research, the team learned that Aurora High School in Ontario, Canada, also has a CD-ROM version of its yearbook, but that WPI would be one of the first universities to offer the CD-ROM version along with the printed text. Since the project was completed, Marquette University announced that it will publish its yearbook, The Hilltop, only on CD-ROM.

Working closely with members of the yearbook staff, the students used the Java programming language and a variety of multimedia technologies such as QuickTime VR, Audio and Video Digitization and Graphic Scanning/Creation. Virtual reality is incorporated as a view of the WPI Quadrangle and a 3-D representation of a Blue Jeans Pizza box. The CD-ROM would complement the yearbook, not compete with it, and the publication would retain the rights to distribute the CD for profit. "We hope to work with the yearbook staff to make the CD version a reality next year," says Karen A. Lemone, associate professor of computer science, who was the project advisor.

The students completed their work to satisfy their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) requirement. The IQP is one of three projects all undergraduates at WPI undertake as part of the innovative WPI Plan, a flexible, exciting and academically challenging program introduced in 1971. Under the Plan, students are provided with unique opportunities for integrating classroom studies with preprofessional academic projects conducted on campus or at companies, agencies and project sites in the U.S. and abroad. The IQP challenges students to identify, investigate and report on a topic that examines how technology interacts with societal structures and values to apply technology to society.

"This project is a wonderful example of what an IQP is supposed to be," says Lemone. "The yearbook has always been a paper product, but the medium of electronics is being used more and more-and this seems an excellent application. The students and the yearbook staff and all agreed that the addition of a CD/ROM would be an excellent enhancement."

All of the students are members of the Class of 1998. Greenwood, son of John and Cindy Greenwood of Duxbury, Mass., is a graduate of Duxbury High School. He is majoring in computer science and is a member of the WPI Chapter of the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM). Sagerson, a computer science major, is the son of Ron and Mary Sagerson of Grapeview, Wash. A graduate of North Mason High School, he recently received the Dr. Neil G. Sullivan Scholarship, named for a member of the Class of 1983 who died shortly before he was to receive his Ph.D. in computer science from Duke University.

Vadeboncoeur, daughter of Arthur and Yvonne Vadeboncoeur of Assonet, Mass., graduated from Apponequet Regional High School in East Freetown, Mass. A mathematical sciences major, she is a member of the WPI Social Committee (SocComm) and Lens and Lights. Van Dinter, son of Carolyn Young of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is a graduate of Cape Elizabeth High School. He is the secretary and former president and vice president of Lens and Lights and a member of SocComm, Masque, the university's theater group, and ACM.