Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) welcomed the Class of 2015 on Sunday, Aug. 21. Composed of more than 1,000 students, this incoming class is the largest ever in the university’s 146-year history. Making this group even more distinctive, these students will graduate during WPI's sesquicentennial year.
WPI received more than 7,000 applications for admission to this class - another new record for the university. The students who were selected from that highly competitive pool of applicants are remarkably accomplished: their average SAT composite score (combined verbal and math) is 1298 - the highest ever among incoming classes. The average high school grade point average of these newcomers is 3.8, and more than 40 percent had perfect GPAs of 4.0. There are also 44 class valedictorians and 55 salutatorians among them.
The Class of 2015 is breaking other campus records as well with the largest numbers of women (312: 31 percent), domestic students of color (12.5 percent), and international students (148: 14.5 percent) in WPI history. These students also represent 41 states and 35 foreign countries.
"WPI's Class of 2015 will help us celebrate the university's 150th Anniversary, so their high level of achievement and diversity is particularly gratifying," said Dean of Admissions Edward J. Connor '92. "Over the years, WPI has gained a well-earned reputation for offering students a remarkable and meaningful undergraduate experience, and a strong return on investment. The members of this class were selected because we believe they have the potential to do great things, and they, in turn, believe WPI can help them achieve their goals."
Applications to WPI have grown by 47 percent since 2005. Growth in WPI's enrollment has been spurred in part by high-profile additions to its innovative academic programs. WPI's fastest-growing programs include biomedical engineering, robotics engineering, interactive media and game design, and environmental engineering, all of which have seen double-digit increases in student majors.
In his welcoming remarks to the freshmen, WPI President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Berkey said the university offers a far broader experience than its traditional strengths of science and engineering.
"This campus is rich with academic courses in the humanities, theatre studies, music, and visual arts, and with the associated performances by which the creativity, joy, and substance of the human spirit are reflected upon and celebrated," he said. "Yes, it's a great time to be a nerd, but fullness of a fine liberal education runs well beyond science and technology, and it is all here for you in abundance at WPI.
"As I often say, 'At WPI it's not just about what you know, and it’s not about competition with your classmates – it's about what you can do with your knowledge, and especially about what you can accomplish in collaboration with your teammates."
WPI's project-based curriculum combines theory and practice. The university's multidimensional approach to education has students working in teams to address some the world's most pressing problems – in all corners of the globe. This approach fosters an appreciation for how advances in science, technology, and the arts and humanities can benefit society, and it helps create innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and, most important, leaders. This distinctive approach to education, and its value to industry, has been consistently lauded by numerous prestigious national surveys and rankings.
This year alone WPI was identified as one of the best colleges in the nation, according to the "2012 Best Colleges" rankings by The Princeton Review, which also placed WPI 17th among national colleges and universities for career services. The value of a WPI education and its career services is also evident in other recent rankings. According to a report by PayScale Inc. that recognizes the top schools that produce the best-paid graduates, WPI ranked 7th in the nation for highest starting median salary.
Aside from high-profile academic programs like robotics engineering, computer gaming, and having access to a new undergraduate research facility in life sciences and bioengineering, the Class of 2015 will also see the completion of the university's state-of-the-art Sports and Recreation Center, now under construction near Harrington Auditorium. Opening next fall, the 145,000-square-foot facility will feature fitness space, a four-court gymnasium, a competition-length swimming pool, a three-lane elevated jogging track, racquetball and squash courts, rowing tanks, and workout studios. The center will provide space for large-scale events, such as admissions open houses, career fairs, national academic conference, and alumni events. There will also be dedicated space for WPI's robotics program and events.