Picture of students staring into the harbor from the top of a mountain. Clouds and trees are visible in the distance.

WPI Bar Harbor Project Center Helps Preserve National Park’s Natural Environment

Recent project teams in Bar Harbor sought to reduce growing levels of congestion, noise, and unnatural light in Acadia National Park 
February 05, 2018

Bar Harbor, a seaside town on Mount Desert Island in Maine, is known for its craggy coastlines, nautical lore, and proximity to the majestic Acadia National Park. Since 2012, teams of WPI students have experienced these features firsthand while completing their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP)—a project that requires teams to delve into a problem that matters to real people—at the WPI Bar Harbor Project Center.

Projects undertaken at the center focus on the relationships and intersections between the humanities, technology, and environmental sustainability. Many seek to help preserve the natural environment of Acadia National Park by mitigating issues stemming from the park’s increasing popularity, as Acadia is both one of the smallest and one of the most visited national parks in America. Project outcomes impact the environment and the local community and also offer solutions to problems faced by other national parks throughout the United States.

Students travel to the center in the summer and have ample opportunities to enjoy the natural surroundings they are helping to preserve through activities such as hiking, rock climbing, sailing, and whale watching.

Learn more about four student projects that were completed at the Bar Harbor Project Center in the summer of 2017 and the impact these projects had on the local community.


Reducing Tourist Congestion in Acadia National Park

The increasing number of visitors to Acadia National Park make it difficult for tourists to enjoy the scenic beauty for which the park has long been known. To reduce congestion and preserve the park’s natural state, WPI students investigated the implementation of a parking reservation system.


Mitigating Sound Pollution in Acadia National Park

How can a national park that receives more than 3.3 million visitors each year decrease disruptive man-made noise levels that impact local wildlife and diminish the tourist experience? According to one team of WPI students, the answer may be as simple as putting up signs.


Tackling Traffic Issues in Acadia National Park

Each summer, Acadia National Park quickly fills up with tourists—as well as their cars, leading to overcrowded parking lots and roads. WPI students investigated the use of an intelligent transportation system that would utilize technology to track, control, and reduce these growing levels of traffic.


Preserving the Night Sky in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is one of the few places on the east coast where the Milky Way galaxy is still visible at night, as it is obscured by light pollution in other locations. WPI students worked to ensure that the park’s night sky remains visible by exploring ways to curb growing light pollution.