Students laugh together while learning about a project center at last year's Global Fair.

Packing Their Bags for the Global Fair

1,000+ students expected at annual kickoff to project season at WPI

September 10, 2019
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Only a few weeks after arriving on campus for the start of A-Term, students are already preparing for experiences away from Boynton Hill as part of the Global Fair. Sure, it might seem a little counter-intuitive, but it’s all part of the (WPI) plan. 

The Global Fair serves as the annual kickoff for student project experiences as part of WPI’s signature Global Projects Program. Representatives from each of WPI’s project centers will be present to answer questions and provide more information about their respective centers to help students start to narrow down where they’d like to complete their future project work. 

While sophomores are especially encouraged to attend as they begin researching options for their Interactive Qualifying Projects (IQPs), all students are welcome to explore options for the Humanities & Arts Requirement and the Major Qualifying Project (MQP) as well.

“The Global Projects Program offers students an incredible learning experience,” says dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Kent Rissmiller. “There’s a terrific energy at the fair … there’s much to learn and a lot to explore.”

This year’s fair won’t only introduce a handful of new centers, but will also be the first one where first-year students (who've received the university’s first Global Scholarships) can begin exploring IQP options. It’ll be an exciting, busy day for all involved, and here’s just a glimpse of what attendees can expect.

  • The Tried and True: Since WPI’s first project center was established (1974 in Washington, D.C.), dozens of others have been added to its ranks around the world. Today, students may choose from more than 50 centers in locations ranging from Iceland and Namibia to, well, Worcester, Massachusetts, and Worcester, England.
  • Drumroll, please: In addition to the project centers currently available, students will have the chance to explore two new centers—one in Prague, Czech Republic, and a local option in Paxton, Mass. Project centers in London and Australia will see expansions, as well.
  • Standing Room Only: While there’s no surefire way to tell just how many students will attend the fair, Rissmiller says he is expecting a number in the thousands, especially since the fair will be welcoming the largest sophomore class ever.
  • Don’t Leave Home Without Them: Like most things at WPI, the Global Projects Program is a team effort, and that’s why the directors of each of the project centers won’t be the only ones in attendance. Students can expect to see representatives from the Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy, Residential Services, Career Development Center, Health Services, Global Lab, International & Global Studies Program, IDEaS Program in the Department of Social Science & Policy Studies, and the SWEET team (Supporting WPI in Effective and Equitable Teamwork) to help them prepare for the various aspects of off-campus travel.
  • A Perfect 100: 2019 will mark the second year IGSD has utilized its new algorithm to match students with their first choice of project center; the algorithm has been able to match 100% of students to their preferred location.
  • A Full Itinerary: This year’s Global Fair will be held Wednesday, September 11, 2–5pm, in the Sports & Recreation Center.

- By Allison Racicot

WPI Global Projects Program in the News

WPI's Global Projects Program was highlighted in a recent feature article in the New York Times. Read it here