Calling them a compassionate and hard working group capable of great achievement, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) President and CEO Dennis Berkey welcomed the Class of 2016 to campus recently during a ceremony held at Harrington Auditorium.
President Berkey's remarks came as classes get under way today at WPI. For the past four days, freshmen have participated in new student orientation programs across campus.
Composed of 967 students, this year’s freshman class has the distinction of having the most women of any class (314, or 32 percent) as well as the highest average SAT composite score (combined verbal and math) of 1302.
In his remarks to students and parents, President Berkey said the students enter college at a "daunting time" on the heels of a crippling recession and a negatively-charged political climate. Despite the challenges, President Berkey said this year's class will persevere.
"You, the class of 2016, have all the elements required to move the nation and the world forward, by rebuilding the economy, advancing human health, sustaining the planet, and shaping a more just society," President Berkey told the newcomers.
The incoming students enter the university with a number of impressive attributes: they had a cumulative grade point average of 3.8 in high school; 439 – or 45 percent – had perfect GPAs of 4.0; and 103 were either valedictorians or salutatorians of their graduating class. The freshman class hails from 37 states and 43 countries as there are 131 international students in this year's class. Also, 102 – or 11 percent – are domestic students of color.
Beyond the data, President Berkey said, he has learned from the students' high school teachers and guidance counselors that the class of 2016 has many strong personal qualities. "You have great empathy, a strong work ethic, and a deep commitment to excellence in all that you do," he said. "These are defining characteristics of all who study and work at WPI, and they will continue to be important contributing factors in your success at WPI and throughout all your lives."
Princesa Cloutier, 17, of Northborough, Mass., was drawn to WPI for its diverse course structure. She will major in mechanical engineering, but also expects to take a number of arts and sciences classes. "I like the integration of arts and sciences with engineering," she said. "For me, WPI offers a well-rounded curriculum."
WPI's fastest-growing programs continue to be biomedical engineering, robotics engineering, interactive media and game design, and environmental engineering, all of which have seen double-digit increases in student majors.
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.
Dean of Admissions Edward J. Connor noted that these students are expected to be a good fit for the university because their high achievement and determination to make a difference in the world matches WPI's ideals.
"WPI is widely known as providing a rich and profound experience for undergraduates while offering a strong return on their education investment," he said. "The Class of 2016 was selected because we know they will take their WPI experience and do great things in the future."