WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) officially welcomed the Class of 2013 on Sunday, August 23, 2009. At 943 students, it is the largest and most diverse class in the university’s 144-year history.
WPI’s Class of 2013 has an impressive record, with the quality of students choosing the university reaching historic highs: 55 percent of the incoming class ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating class in high school; 345 members of the Class of 2013 had perfect 4.0 GPAs in high school; their aggregated GPA was 3.8; and 39 students were valedictorians and 35 salutatorians. The class represents 32 states and 27 foreign countries.
More women and underrepresented minority students continue to take advantage of WPI’s strong offerings in science- and engineering-related fields. The number of women in the first year class climbed to a record level this year, representing a 14 percent increase over last year and a 78 percent increase over the past five years. WPI’s underrepresented minority population has grown from 6.8 percent of the first year class to 13 percent over the same time period. These increases have been especially pronounced since the 2007 inception of WPI’s test-optional admissions policy.
"In this economy, students and parents want to know that their college experience will prepare them for the future, with all of its uncertainties," said Kristin R. Tichenor, WPI’s vice president for enrollment management. "With WPI’s track record for strong starting salaries and job prospects, it’s no wonder we are enrolling students in record numbers. The dramatic increase in enrollment also reflects a growing recognition that students need the kind of expertise that a WPI education delivers. The goal is to produce the creative problem solvers that the world so desperately needs now."
WPI’s enrollment growth has been spurred in part by high-profile additions to its innovative, project-based academic programs, including the first undergraduate program in robotics engineering and a groundbreaking program in computer gaming. In addition, students will have access to a new $11.5 million state-of-the-future undergraduate research facility in life sciences and bioengineering—the George I. Alden Life Sciences & Bioengineering Educational Center—which will bring together WPI’s undergraduate laboratory instruction of biology, biotechnology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical engineering. The Alden Center, which officially opens August 27, 2009, is located in Goddard Hall and complements the graduate-level research being conducted in these fields at WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park.
With their parents in tow, first-year students checked in August 23 to their new homes in WPI’s residence halls, which, for underclassmen, were revamped over the summer. Comfortable rooms housing first-year and sophomore students have been decked out with sleek, modern furniture and arranged more efficiently. Meanwhile, upperclassmen continue to enjoy the "green" amenities in the state-of-the-art East Hall, a residence hall that opened in 2008 on Boynton Street. A full-day New Student Orientation slate of events awaited first-year students and families, including a "Welcome" by WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey and a barbeque on the campus Quadrangle.
Philip Clay, WPI’s dean of students, offers some advice to the Class of 2013: "As you begin your college career, take advantage of all that WPI has to offer by immersing yourself in the campus community, through getting to know your professors and by joining a student club or organization. Getting involved will help you meet returning students and other new students who share your interests. Being involved in a student organization also provides you with a break from your academics and actually helps you to manage your time better. Make sure you attend the Student Activities Fair on Wednesday, August 26, to learn more about the various student clubs and organizations on campus from current members. Get involved with a favorite activity, or join something brand new—just get involved! You’ll be glad you did."