In its Feb. 12, 2010, edition, the (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette spotlighted research by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students that will help the town of Leicester, Mass., save thousands of taxpayer dollars by installing solar energy systems on municipally owned buildings.
Last year, the team members – seniors Laura Montville of Charlton, Mass., and Christopher Gabrielson and Stephen Hanly, both of Westford, Mass. – researched the feasibility of placing solar energy systems atop each of Leicester's three school buildings. Their study showed that using solar power would not only save on energy costs, but would also be environmentally friendly. Their project tied for second place with three others in WPI's President's IQP Awards competition, which was held Jan. 29, 2010.
All WPI undergraduates are required to complete a research-driven project, known as the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), which applies science and technology to addresses an important societal need or issue. About two-thirds of students complete a project at one of the university's 26 off-campus project centers, which are located around the world. These projects offer students the opportunity to apply their scientific and technical knowledge to tackle real problems that affect the quality of people’s lives. In doing so, they develop an understanding of other cultures and see how their work can have a positive impact on real communities.