WPI Students Built Habitat Houses during Spring Break

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - Florida is a favorite destination for many collegians during spring break, but this year, 22 Worcester Polytechnic Institute students enjoyed the tropical sunshine with hammers in hand. These students participated in Habitat for Humanity's Collegiate Challenge, a program that brings student groups to work sites to build low-cost housing.

WPI participants in the venture, which took place March 4-11, included:

Seniors: Karl Lackner of Babylon, N.Y., a computer science major; Tanya Theriault of Penascola, Fla., a biotechnology major; Maureen Upton of Mattapoisett, Mass., a biomedical engineering major; and Christopher Wilson of Nashua, N.H., a biomedical engineering major.

Juniors: Bill Burgess of Tyngsboro, Mass., a chemistry major; Jimmy Cook of Dallas, Texas, a mechanical engineering major; Matthew Hanson of La Crosse, Wis., a mechanical engineering major; Jennifer Hardy of North Chelmsford, Mass., a member of the WPI Habitat for Humanity Executive Board and an electrical engineering major; Brynn Hart of Bellingham, Wash., a mechanical engineering major; Timothy Hogan of Easthampton, Mass., a biotechnology major; Stephen Millet of Westborough, Mass., a computer science major; Maxwell Pistilli of Philadelphia, Pa., a biotechnology major.

Sophomores: Derek Gelinas of Hooksett, N.H., a management information major; and Joseph O'Boyle of Alcobendas, Spain, a computer science major.

Freshmen: Samantha Isaacs of Flushing, N.Y., a biomedical engineering major; Melissa Konopko of Guilford, Conn., a biology major; Sarah Linderme of Holyoke, Mass., a mechanical engineering major; Marcie Skorik of Danvers, Mass., a member of the WPI Habitat for Humanity Executive Board and a civil engineering major; Christina Watson of Clark, N.J., a member of the WPI Habitat for Humanity Executive Board and a biotechnology major.

Lindsay Freed of Portland, Ore., WPI's community service coordinator, helped supervise the team in Miami, as did Donna Welch, an officer with the WPI Campus Police. Plagued with overcrowding, the Miami area is a good choice for Habitat for Humanity. One of every three residents lives below the poverty level. "We worked with skilled volunteers as well as actual homeowners," Freed explained. "Students who participate help these families build houses."

Stressing that no experience is necessary, Freed traveled to the same site last spring as a student volunteer from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, from which she graduated a few months later. Freed is WPI's first-ever MACC VISTA, an acronym for "Massachusetts Campus Compact Volunteer in Service to America," part of the nationwide AmeriCorps program.

WPI, founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students integrate classroom studies with research projects conducted on campus and around the world.