Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has once again been named one of the country's best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review, which features WPI in its new 2014 edition of "The Best 378 Colleges." As part of the ranking, WPI was listed as having the sixth "Most Popular Study Abroad Program."
Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the United States are profiled in the book, which is The Princeton Review's flagship college guide. It includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus ranking lists of top 20 schools in the book in 62 categories based on The Princeton Review's surveys of 126,000 students attending the colleges.
Kristin Tichenor, senior vice president at WPI, was pleased with the honor. "We’re thrilled that The Princeton Review has recognized WPI's distinctive academic programs again," she said. "Not only does this honor speak to WPI's high quality education, but it also speaks to its outstanding Global Projects Program, which provides students with tremendous opportunities for experiential learning at WPI's project centers around the world."
Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's senior vice president and publisher and author of "The Best 378 Colleges," commended the university, saying, "WPI offers outstanding academics, which is the primary criteria for our choice of schools for the book." He added that the review bases its selections primarily on data obtained in its annual institutional data surveys.
WPI students lauded the university's project-based curriculum, which gives students "the ability to work on real engineering projects around the world." Also, one sophomore told the Review, "WPI won't teach you everything you need to know to be a good engineer, but it will teach you where to find all the information you need to face any obstacle."
WPI's distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum has been the core of its undergraduate program since the early 1970s. Unlike many colleges that offer classroom-style study-abroad programs, WPI gives students and faculty advisers the chance to get out of the classroom and tackle open-ended problems. The first project, typically undertaken in a student's junior year, is a team-based effort that lies at the intersection of science, technology, social issues, and human need. In that setting, WPI students work to meet pressing local needs. Sustainability serves as a common theme for the projects, many of which address problems dealing with energy, the environment, sustainable development, education, cultural preservation, and technology policy.
Students have the opportunity to apply to WPI's 35 project centers, which are located in cities worldwide. In the United States, WPI has project center sites in such cities as Worcester and Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Santa Fe, N.M. International project sites include locations such as London, England; Venice, Italy; Cape Town, South Africa, Wellington, New Zealand; Moscow, Russia; Mandi, India and Tirana, Albania.
Tichenor added that projects give students a well-rounded college experience. "Projects at WPI come as close to professional experience as a college program can possibly achieve," she said. "As a result of these experiences, students develop vital work and life skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives."
To view the complete list, visit The Princeton Review.