First stop, Albania. Project Immersion Initiative Brings Global Projects Program to Life.
“Life is projects.” It’s one of many quotes from alumni who speak so eloquently of their project experiences at WPI. Recently, IGSD (Interdisciplinary & Global Studies Division) and Marketing & Communications launched an initiative aimed at bringing the university’s signature project experience to life for a broader audience. It’s also a great way for proud WPI employees to share the value of this signature program.
The initiative, named “Project Immersion,” illustrates the unique nature of WPI’s Global Projects Program and Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) and the impact on our students and the domestic and international communities where they work. The centerpiece is an interactive experience that gives visitors a hands-on view of the transformative journey students take at a WPI project center. The stories are told through videos, photos, and interviews with students, faculty advisors, and project sponsors.
Kent Rissmiller, dean ad interim of IGSD, sees the initiative as an opportunity to showcase WPI projects in a more robust and dynamic way.
“We have long known the powerful impact that projects have on our students and the communities in which they work,” says Rissmiller. “Through this new initiative we are able tell stories of projects using the voices of the people involved and to really bring them to life for various audiences.”
So far, one center has been profiled—WPI’s Albania Project Center.
“It was a strategic decision to start with Albania, because it’s not a location where students would typically go, but it is a place where WPI students can make a difference,” says Rissmiller.
The Albania project immersion web presence documents the journeys of 24 students who completed their projects in Albania in the 2016–17 school year—beginning with the Global Fair and the application process to post-project reflections. The students were part of six teams and worked on topics ranging from running the FIRST Robotics competition in Albania for high school students to helping set the stage for Albania’s first eco-adventure park.
Rissmiller hopes to use the project immersion initiative to give prospective students an in-depth look at WPI projects as well as attract new sponsors. Just as significantly, he believes the initiative will serve as a source of pride for those already involved with WPI projects.
“So many members of the WPI community are really invested in the IQP—the students who undertake them, as well as faculty, staff, alumni, and current sponsors,” says Rissmiller. “I recently had a chance to show the Albania project immersion website to faculty advisors and sponsors at our project center in Washington, D.C., and everyone was really excited about it.”
A new project immersion experience highlighting the work at the Bar Harbor Project Center will soon be added. This, too, was a strategic decision, as Bar Harbor, Maine, offers a very different cultural experience for students, yet doesn’t require international travel. In collaboration with Rissmiller and his team, Marketing & Communications plans to travel to another center on another continent in spring 2018 and, long-term, to tell an immersive story from each of the six continents where WPI has project centers.