The first few weeks of A-Term are always a whirlwind, from New Student Orientation and the Activities Fair to new classes and catching up with friends. One surefire sign that classes are back in session is the Global Fair, held annually to showcase the project centers available to students interested in completing project work off-campus during their time at WPI.
The global fair acts as the official kickoff for the Global Projects Program application process every year, gathering the entire program in one place (this year, the Sports & Recreation Center) and making the myriad opportunities visible and accessible to students.
“It’s a great opportunity to see the breadth of WPI offerings, both locally and around the world,” says Anne Ogilvie, executive director of the Global Projects Program. “There’s so much opportunity in that room. Students can hear from the project centers directors and from their peers who have been to our project sites.”
Ogilvie and her team strive to create a welcoming environment at the fair while students browse the locations they might visit to complete any of the three projects that are required to graduate: Humanities & Arts (HUA) requirement, Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), and Major Qualifying Project (MQP). Over 1,100 students attended last year’s fair, with an even higher number expected this year.
A newer aspect of the Global Fair is the First-Year Cafe. Returning for its third year, the Cafe is a place for new students to meet with Global Ambassadors (students who have already traveled to various project centers), ask questions, and discuss the respective programs in more detail. Students will also have the opportunity to get free passport and visa photos taken during the fair.
While more students travel off campus for their IQP than for other projects, the Global Fair will also touch upon opportunities for MQPs and the HUA requirement. Whether students choose to travel across the city or across the world, it’s the experience that will take students further, and the fair will provide more information on how to apply to different centers, what will be expected of them in the program, and how to plan their time for it.
“Students applying this year have more choices than ever before,” Ogilvie says, going on to explain that in addition to the more than 40 project centers already available to students, this year’s fair will also include information on new locations and expansions of established centers.
Following the success of the Bar Harbor Project Center, where students work on projects in Acadia National Park, they’ll be piloting an expansion program with the National Park Service, giving students the option of studying in Acadia National Park in E-Term, or in Montana’s Glacier National Park in A-Term. The Costa Rica Project Center, currently in San José, will be expanded to the town of Monteverde, in the cloud forest, giving students access to a more remote, mountainous area.
The Israel, Japan, and Beijing project centers, which previously only offered MQPs, will now offer IQPs, as well. The Namibia Project Center will be open for an additional term, and the Ecuador Project Center will be expanded.