Students Get 'HAPPI' With Hometown News at WPI

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Parents love to hear good news about their children, especially when their sons or daughters tackle the challenges of higher education. Now good news is going to be easier to find at one New England university. Two Worcester Polytechnic Institute students have created a new invention that reflects well on themselves as well as every other WPI student.

Computer science majors Andrew M. Stone, the son of David and Gail Stone of Northfield, Mass., and Ralph G. Thompson III, the son of Ralph Thompson Jr. of West Haven, Conn., and Peggy Thompson of North Branford, Conn., have created a computer software program that will change the way student news is produced and distributed at this 136-year-old technological university. The HAPPI System (which stands for Hometowner Application Interface) is the product of nearly a year of work and research. In addition to its key uses in the university's media relations office, the effort fulfills a graduation requirement for Stone and Thompson called the Major Qualifying Project.

David C. Brown, WPI professor of computer science, is the faculty advisor for the project.

"The HAPPI system was created to harness the media potential of the over 1,000 WPI projects completed each academic year," said Thompson. "By automating the mundane tasks of producing and sending press releases to local newspapers, use of the system will increase the number of distributed press releases."

There's a bigger picture, of course, that HAPPI addresses.

"This will provide WPI with a larger public presence in the United States, a positive effect on enrollment and reputation, and the potential for students and advisors to receive positive press in technical circles," Stone said.

It will most certainly be a boon for those producing press releases about WPI.

"This system will be a godsend for news efforts," said Arlie Corday, WPI assistant director of media relations. "It will allow more news to be sent out in far less time than conventional methods. I think Ralph and Andy have done an incredible job of putting together a system that combines student information, parent addresses and media contacts in a process that takes seconds from start to finish."

The HAPPI system produces a student news release about three kinds of WPI student projects, including e-mail, fax or mail delivery to newspapers and parents.

Stone, a graduate of Frontier Regional High School in South Deerfield, Mass., will graduate from WPI this spring. He plans to pursue software development and attend graduate school. Earlier in his studies at WPI, he produced another project, studying the incidence of parasitic disease at a project site in Puerto Rico. He has been a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and the Association for Computer Machinery.

Thompson is a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity, serving as vice president, rush chairman, interim member at large and interim social officer. A graduate of Stratford (Conn.) High School, after graduation from WPI, he will be a software engineer at Sapient Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Vice president of the WPI Social Committee and chairman of its Major and Special Events Committee, he earlier worked on a WPI air-quality project in London.

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.