Our Favorite Things and Stories From 2023 

As you finish wrapping your brown paper packages tied up with strings, we invite you to see the cheer a year at WPI brings, along with 23 of the top moments at WPI from 2023. From robots on drums and those that can buzz (really no one can achieve like WPI does). 

Many of these stories were also covered by the media, further highlighting WPI’s distinctive research, expert analysis, faculty, student achievements, project-based learning, and our focus on STEM education. 


Robot in ceiling
The Lizard You Actually Want Crawling in the Walls

WPI innovations seemed to be everywhere this year, even—in the case of this robot—inside the walls of Worcester City Hall. The soft robot can creep into walls, ductwork, and pipes to perform inspections and three-dimensional mapping tasks that could be dangerous or impossible for humans.     


hands holding drone and sunflower
Robotics Engineers Work to 'Bee' Part of the Climate Change Solution

This small but mighty drone created a lot of buzz with its ability to pollinate crops and could one day help to solve a real-world problem caused by the ongoing decline of global bee populations. 


Global view of WPI
Power Play: New Partnership Accelerates WPI’s Efforts to Reduce Its Carbon Footprint

WPI formed a 40-year partnership with Chicago-based investment management firm Harrison Street that will support initiatives to reduce WPI’s carbon footprint by expanding energy-conservation measures, improving the campus power plant, developing sustainable energy technologies, and creating new research opportunities for students and faculty. 


Ribbon cutting
WPI Cuts Ribbon for Center for Well-Being; Officially Launches Health & Wellness Collaborative

The January opening of the Center for Well-Being was the culmination of years of planning to centralize a broad range of services to support students in an integrated approach that recognizes the important connections between physical health, mental health, overall well-being, and academic and professional success. 


Firefighter and wildfire in wind tunnel
National Science Foundation Taps WPI Fire Protection Expertise and Resources for the Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

WPI will build upon its longstanding expertise in fire protection through new partnerships with the NSF to address catastrophic wildfires, save lives and property, and increase community resiliency; the partnership also expands the Center’s footprint to the East Coast. 


Researchers Dr. Lawrence Rhein, Ulkuhan Guler, and Bige Unluturk pose for a photo at WPI

From left, Dr. Lawrence Rhein, Ulkuhan Guler, and Bige Unluturk

WPI Researcher Leads Project To Develop Oxygen Sensor for Premature Infants of Color.

Work is underway on a first of-its-kind wearable sensor for premature infants that will help address racial bias in healthcare. The noninvasive sensor, about the size of a bandage, accounts for variations in skin color and enables infants at risk of lung disease to leave hospitals sooner and be accurately monitored at home. 


Yan Wang in research lab
Bayh-Dole Coalition Selects WPI Professor Yan Wang as an Inaugural “Face of American Innovation”

Wang, a pioneer in lithium-ion battery recycling, was one of five individuals  recognized with the American Innovator Award by the Coalition, which consists of “a diverse group of innovation-oriented organizations and individuals committed to celebrating and protecting the Bayh-Dole Act.”  


Photos of Loris Fichera, Jeannine Coburn, Tian Guo, Markus Nemitz

Clockwise from top left, Markus Nemitz, Loris Fichera, Tian Guo, and Jeannine Coburn

Four WPI Faculty Tackle Groundbreaking Research With Prestigious CAREER Awards

Every year the NSF selects a number of researchers for CAREER grants, and this year four WPI faculty members received the prestigious award. This marks the second consecutive year that four WPI researchers received the early-career grants. 



Nobel Prize winner Katalin Kariko

Nobel Laureates Headline Nature Conference at WPI

Freshly minted Nobel laureate Katalin Kariko, whose research helped pave the way for rapid development of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, headlined the Nature conference at WPI, a three-day event run by the family of leading scientific journals. Scientists and researchers from around the world traveled to campus for the forum. 


Grace Wang smiles while looking off-camera against a gray background.
A Presidential First Week

Grace Wang got right to work in April after assuming the role of WPI’s 17th president, introducing herself to students, meeting with community leaders, and getting up to speed on the groundbreaking research going on in WPI labs. Wang came to WPI from The Ohio State University, where she was executive vice president for research, innovation, and knowledge.  


2023 Commencement
WPI Class of 2023 Charged to Apply Knowledge, Values, and Resilience to Improve the Future

On the quad under sunny skies, 1,088 WPI undergraduates received their diplomas at the 154th Commencement exercises. “You have earned your place among generations of exceptional WPI alumni,” Wang said in her address. “I hope you will take the opportunity, as they did, to push boundaries, explore unknowns, and deliver a tangible and profound impact to the world.” It was a final farewell for on-campus Commencement; next year’s exercises will be held at the DCU Center in downtown Worcester.  


WPI and HC Presidents sign MOU
Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the College of the Holy Cross To Develop Innovative Dual Degree Programs

Wang and College of the Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau signed amemorandum of understanding (MOU) in June to collaborate on combined bachelor’s/master's programs that will provide opportunities for Holy Cross students to complete their Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at Holy Cross and their Master of Science (MS) or Master of Engineering (MEng) degree at WPI in an accelerated 4+1 model. 


green version of XRP on white background
Open-Source Platform Transforming Robotics Engineering Education

Work continued in 2023 on developing the Experiential Robotics Platform, or XRP, a small, open-source robot that could revolutionize robotics engineering and help democratize global STEM access. Commercial units went on the market in August; partnerships are being formed with school districts in New Hampshire, and a pilot is being explored in Worcester.  


Using Artificial Intelligence to Comb Through Warning Signs of Suicide, WPI-led Study Identifies Key Predictors

Dmitry Korkin, the Harold L. Jurist ’61 and Heather E. Jurist Dean’s Professor of Computer Science, led a team of researchers that used artificial intelligence to better predict suicide risk in women who suffer from certain trauma-related disorders. The findings from the three-year study were published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 


Kenneth Dwyer in the CERES lab
CERES Lab Offers Industry Researchers Opportunity to Accelerate Development of Innovative Health Treatments

A fee-for-service facility, CERES (the Cell Engineering Research Equipment Suite) is located on Grove Street in Worcester, next to the WPI Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center, which offers training programs for engineers and other industry professionals. CERES provides WPI and outside researchers with access to instruments that are used in the quantitative analysis of engineered cells. 


photo of Jean King
WPI Dean of Arts and Sciences Jean King Named to the National Institutes of Health Council of Councils

King, Peterson Family Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and a widely respected neuroscientist and researcher, joined 26 other council members who advise the NIH Director on policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). 


WPI Receives International Award for Innovation in Student Mobility and Expanding Access to Global Projects

The university’s Global Projects Program and Global Projects for All initiative received the Institute of International Education (IIE) Andrew Heiskell Award for its ongoing efforts to expand access. A signature component of WPI’s project-based learning model, the Global Projects Program facilitates student travel to more than 50 project centers across the USA and in 30 countries around the world.  


Starship Technologies Launches Robot Food Delivery Service at WPI

Robots are nothing new at WPI, but since April, a fleet of six-wheeled cubes operated by Starship Technologies has been delivering food from campus eateries, using computer vision-based navigation that helps them map their environment to the nearest inch.  


Visitors view video game console exhibit at WPI library.
Exhibit showcases video game history and IMGD success

The newest exhibit of the George C. Gordon Library’s Archives and Special Collections, “Video Game Console Wars 1976-2001 featuring WPI’s Interactive Media Archive & Interactive Media & Game Development Department,” had a kickoff event in October. The exhibit includes a 1970s Atari 2600, vintage system controllers, and games such as Frogger and Metroid.  


Student and professor in lab
Honeywell, WPI Partner on Hydrogen Fuel Cell Solutions for Aircraft

This work focuses on hydrogen storage and power generation technology for all forms of air travel, including unmanned aerial vehicles and passenger and cargo travel. Honeywell is supplying hydrogen equipment and technology expertise and has established a significant presence on WPI’s campus.  


Professor helps student at computer
WPI Business School Receives Re-Accreditation and Is Lauded for Its Focus on Business Impact

The Business School earned re-accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The hallmark of excellence in business education, AACSB accreditation has been earned by fewer than five percent of the world’s business programs: just 989 business schools across 60 countries and territories are currently accredited. 


Michelle Ephraim photo

Photo by: Leah Ramuglia

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Professor and Shakespeare Scholar Wins 2023 Juniper Prize

Michelle Ephraim won the Juniper Award for Creative Nonfiction, from the University of Massachusetts Press, for GREEN WORLD: A Tragicomic Memoir of Love and Shakespeare. Awarded annually, the Juniper Literary Prizes are highly competitive and a highly regarded showcase of distinctive and fresh voices who share their work with a wide array of readers.  


AI illustration
WPI Establishes Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence to Prepare Students for Growing Field

Last but certainly not least, WPI rounded out 2023 with the launch of a new degree program in AI offering students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree, a combined bachelor’s/master’s,or a graduate certificate through courses, projects, and thesis work. The program will leverage the university’s extensive experience in research and project-based education in AI to provide students with the technical skills and ethical understanding needed for careers in industry, government, and academia.