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As part of WPI’s signature global projects program, our undergraduate students make an impact in communities throughout China at two world-class project centers with ties to five important Chinese cities. New teams of bright and motivated students travel to these centers each year to immerse themselves in new cultures as they make connections with local students and take on real-world challenges that lie in the critical zone where science and technology meet business needs, social issues, and cultural norms.

Project Centers in China

Map of project centers in china

As part of WPI’s signature global projects program, our undergraduate students make an impact in communities throughout China at two world-class project centers with ties to five important Chinese cities. New teams of bright and motivated students travel to these centers each year to immerse themselves in new cultures as they make connections with local students and take on real-world challenges that lie in the critical zone where science and technology meet business needs, social issues, and cultural norms.

Through participation at the project centers in China, WPI undergraduates have the opportunity to complete their IQP (Interactive Qualifying Project) and MQP (Major Qualifying Project) requirements off campus.

  • IQP students work with local organizations to tackle real-life problems and challenges where science and technology meet social issues and human needs.
  • MQP students pursue technical projects in their major field of study, frequently in partnership with industry leaders and other universities.

WPI students pursue hands-on, life-changing project opportunities in all corners of the world, including China. Project work is preceded by rigorous preparation. Students also strive to become familiar with the culture and language.

China Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) Centers

  • Goals:
    • Tackle real problems at the nexus of society and technology; analyze socio-political context and stakeholder interests; make recommendations
    • Nurture global scientists and engineers who understand the connections between society and technology
    • Interdisciplinary teams; external sponsors  
  • Hong Kong IQP Center, 2001–present
    • Center Director: Professor Creighton Peet
    • Focus: Education and urban planning
    • 20+ students per year
  • Hangzhou IQP Center, 2014–present
    • Center Director: Professor Jennifer Rudolph
    • Partner: Hangzhou Dianzi University
    • Focus: Sustainable urban growth

China Major Qualifying Project (MQP) Centers

  • Beijing MQP Center, 2015–present
    • Co-directors: Professors Jianyu Liang and Amy Zeng
    • Partner: Beijing University of Chemical Technology  
  • Shanghai MQP Center, 2008–present
    • Co-directors: Professors David DiBiasio and Susan Zhou
    • Partner: Shanghai Jiaotong University
    • Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering majors only  
  • Multi-city MQP Center, 2005–2014
    • Wuhan and Greater Shanghai
    • Co-directors: Professors Kevin Rong and Amy Zeng
    • Partners: Beijing Jiaotong University, Huazhong University of Science & Technology (Wuhan), Shanghai University, Tsinghua University (Beijing)
    • Majors: ME/MFE, MGE/IE, RBE, ECE, MA, FPE, MG, CEE, CS, CHE
    • Mixed-team model
    • Over 160 WPI students and over 250 Chinese students have participated in this Center  

Features of MQP Centers

  • Immersion in local culture while tackling pressing technical problems for project sponsors
  • Learning by doing in multi-cultural, multi-locational project teams
  • Multi-channel learning and communication
  • Multi-faceted teaching and education
The project [work] has given our students and WPI students an opportunity to interact with each other and develop cultural sensitivity and understanding of their counterparts.
Brenda Yuen
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hong Kong Project Center

WPI’s first project center in China, the Hong Kong Project Center provides a gateway to one of the most dynamic and significant regions across the globe.

This center focuses on project topics related to urban planning, greener environment, sustainable resource use, education innovation, and economic and social issues. Project samples:

  • Education reform and innovation - Evaluate English language educational software developed to help Chinese students improve their English language skills
  • Greener environment - Identify and manage sources of plastic pollution in the marine environment - Evaluate how to increase recycling of beverage containers and vehicle tires - Identify how to reduce light pollution and traffic congestion
  • Sustainable resource use - Evaluate how to best develop the waterfront and marine areas of Victoria Harbor - Make recommendations on urban housing and redevelopment to maximize sociocultural values, utility, and walkability  

The Center has worked with the following sponsors: Hong Kong Business Environment Council, Hong Kong Green Building Council, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Friends of the Earth Hong Kong, Worldwide Fund for Nature, Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority, Designing Hong Kong, Harbour Business Forum, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The city of Hong Kong offers a gateway to one of the most dynamic and significant regions of the globe and is a growing leader in economic development, transportation efficiency, artistic expression, educational reform, and environmental conservation. This rapid growth and modernization present opportunities as well as difficulties, but WPI students are more than up for the task as they bring ingenious approaches to an array of challenges to make an impact in local communities.

Wuhan Project Center

The Wuhan Project Center takes students to four cities throughout China (Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan), but its impact goes even further.

The Beijing Project Center offers real-world project experiences for students to simultaneously practice their technical skills, apply their innovative ideas, expand their interpersonal abilities, and cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit in a global and innovative world. Each project team is formed by WPI students and Chinese students from our partner in China – Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT), and guided by co-advisors from WPI and BUCT. Projects are usually completed within 7-8 weeks and are sponsored by global companies with operations in China. The Center offers project opportunities primarily for students majoring in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Management Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The first 10 students participating in this center (summer 2015) worked on projects sponsored by Pacific Can, an innovative can manufacturing company founded by Glenn Yee ’74, WPI Trustee Emeritus, in 1991:

  • Industrial engineering students developed an infrared tube-based drying stage to increase energy efficiency in the production of aluminum cans
  • Mechanical engineering students designed a robotic arm to sort, stack, and move scrap metal for recycling
  • Chemical engineering students examined the paint formula for adhesion to metal surfaces and identified reasons for paint failure