Students and Faculty on excursion in Albania

WPI Albania Project Center Helps Propel Growth in a Developing Nation

Project teams in Albania tackle topics ranging from adventure tourism to entrepreneurship

October 11, 2017
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Born largely out of the passion of one faculty member, the WPI Albania Project Center launched in 2013 when 12 students traveled more than 4,400 miles from Worcester to Albania’s capital city of Tirana to complete their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP)—a project that requires teams to delve into a problem that matters to real people. Since then, the center has continued to gain in popularity and has doubled in size, now accepting 24 students each fall.

Although Albania is a poor, developing nation, it has one of Europe’s fastest growing economies, and WPI students have been involved in projects that help sustain and manage this impressive growth. Student projects have focused on topics as diverse as developing strategies to better market locally harvested honey, creating a water science fair for high school students, and exploring long-term care options for Albania’s burgeoning elderly population.

At the same time, the students who travel here have opportunities to learn about a vibrant part of the world—rich in history and culture—that they may not otherwise visit, and explore all that Albania has to offer, including spectacular mountains and river gorges, bustling cities, delicious food, and welcoming communities.

Learn more about six student projects that were completed at the Albania Project Center in the fall of 2016 and the impact these projects had on the local communities they served.

Making a Documentary to Save Albania’s Longest River

Stretching more than 200 miles, the Drin River is the longest and one of the most valuable rivers in Albania—it’s also one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water. WPI students aimed to raise awareness of the river’s plight and spur people to take action by creating an inspiring documentary.

Mapping Albania’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Could the small country Albania contain the next Silicon Valley? WPI students brought this vision one step closer to reality by building a platform that enables budding entrepreneurs in Albania to find the resources they need, network with each other, and get inspired by stories of success.

Sowing the Seeds for Sustainable Harvesting of Albania’s Plants

Sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme—throughout the world, a considerable portion of these and other common herbs and spices are sourced from wild-harvested plants in Albania. In order to keep the thriving trade alive, WPI students investigated harvesting practices of plants along Albania’s Vjosa Valley.

Implementing Albania’s First High School Robotics Competition

Each year participants from around the United States take part in the WPI-created Savage Soccer competition—a robotics program with competition events. Now, thanks to a WPI student team, high school students in Albania competed in their first ever Savage Soccer match as part of a hands-on learning experience.

Setting the Stage for Albania’s First Adventure Park

How can rope swings and obstacle courses help boost a nation’s struggling economy? For a WPI student team, the answer was helping to design a brand new eco-adventure resort that will bring jobs to rural Albania and attract thrill-seeking tourists from around the world. 

Shedding light on Pharmaceutical Waste Management in Albania

In Albania, increasing amounts of improperly disposed of pharmaceutical waste pose a major hazard to the environment and human health. To remedy this problem, a WPI student team took to the streets to investigate waste management roadblocks and offer pathways to change.