Faculty & Research

With a world of problems to solve, there are clear advantages to going beyond national borders to investigate issues and team with like-minded experts. WPI researchers are broadening international perspectives and forging strong research collaborations with peers throughout China. These joint efforts not only further our work, but also provide rich experiences for students and offer opportunities for international recognition.  

Office Location: 408
Jennifer Rudolph
Professor-Arts, Communications, and Humanities, Humanities & Arts

By training, I am a political historian of China and Japan. Coming to WPI has expanded how I view my own research and teaching and what can be done with them. I’ve led WPI’s efforts to build China-related programs for STEM students on campus and off. With like-minded colleagues I helped establish and now direct WPI’s East Asia Hub (formally China Hub), established and co-direct WPI’s Hangzhou and Taiwan Project Centers, and advise the Chinese Studies minor.

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Jennifer deWinter
Professor-Arts, Communications, and Humanities, Humanities & Arts

Jennifer deWinter has long been interested in how culture (which is local) moves internationally. She has spent a number of years analyzing anime, comics, and computer games as part of global media flows in order to understand how concepts such as "art," "culture," and "entertainment" are negotiated. In 2003, Professor deWinter joined the Learning Games Initiative, a group of scholars and game designers dedicated to the general study of games and the use of games to teach concepts and skills in particular.

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Tahar El-Korchi

I enjoy my interactions with students at all levels of education, research, and mentoring, whether it be in the classroom, the lab, or in project work. I especially enjoy taking them to the Morocco Project Center and sharing with them the places where I grew up. Challenging the students to achieve higher levels of discovery is a thrill for me.

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Jianyu Liang

Professor Liang’s research explores the physics of interfaces between the nanometer and micron scales. Her team responds to the challenging interdisciplinary nature of their research endeavor through successful collaboration with colleagues with expertise in metrology, physics, bioscience, medical science, chemistry, and fire protection engineering. Her educational effort includes novel approaches to project-based learning and global centers for science and engineering.

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David DiBiasio
Professor- Engineering, Chemical Engineering

My research involves educational scholarship: investigating how students learn chemical engineering and how the curriculum can be modified to optimize learning. That includes understanding learning in hands-on labs compared to virtual or remotely operated labs; learning in international contexts; and how safety, ethics, and social responsibility can be effectively integrated into the chemical engineering curriculum.

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Faculty Research

Chinese Studies: By researching pressing issues in Chinese politics, international relations, and development, as well as important trends in communication and environmental sustainability, WPI faculty help shape scholarly debates and US policy. Findings inform current U.S.-China relations and explore attitudes towards broader topics such as environmental sustainability and cross-cultural communication.

Engineering:  Through research activities in the area of Computer-aided Manufacturing, WPI faculty is challenging best practices in manufacturing processes for the advancement of a global economy.

Energy:  A multinational team of faculty and students, led by WPI, participated in the 2013 Solar Decathlon China competition (in Datong City, Shanxi, PRC), successfully building a net-zero energy house. The design effectively incorporated traditional Chinese architectural tenets and the team placed 8th overall. The achievements of the Solar Decathlon team tangibly demonstrated WPI’s commitment to the development of sources of energy and energy utilization that facilitate sustainable living.

Business and Supply Chain: WPI School of Business faculty recognizes the undeniable importance of China in international business practice and strategy. They use Chinese case studies and conduct research in China to learn how processes like supply chain and operations management impact businesses locally and globally.

WPI’s focus on solving real-world problems cannot be achieved if we do not interact with the world around us to discover the relevant problems and uncover alternate solutions.
  • Karen Kashmanian Oates
  • University Peterson Family
  • Dean of Arts and Sciences

Research Collaboration

WPI faculty researchers coordinate various efforts on campus and abroad that establish connections with Chinese universities and industries to cultivate meaningful research collaborations and fruitful intellectual exchanges.  

ON CAMPUS, our Metal Processing Institute (MPI), a university-industry alliance that advances the state of the art in metal processing and materials recovery, has strategic alliances with China’s State Key Laboratories at two prestigious Chinese universities that enable us to combine our shared and unique strengths.

IN CHINA, WPI is engaged in unique and innovative collaborations like the Research Center for Operations and Productivity Management, a joint research center located at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). Here, WPI faculty guide U.S. and Chinese students on developing new tools and methods that provides pioneering solutions to global business problems. 

External Grants

  • BIE: WPI received a grant in the amount of $185,745 (Grant Award No. P153A090011) from the Business International Education (BIE) Program at the U.S. Department of Education for the project “Establishing the US-China Link Initiative at WPI” from August 1, 2009, to December 31, 2011. The project partner, MassMEP, provided $200K in-kind matching funds and WPI provided additional $101K matching funds. The project team included Amy Zeng (PI) from the School of Business, Kevin Rong from the Mechanical Engineering Department, and Jennifer Rudolph from the Humanities and Arts Department. The primary goal of this initiative was to establish WPI as an integrator and leading institution in Massachusetts and eventually in New England in providing educational opportunities and programs that increase the experience, knowledge, skills, and capabilities of students, faculty, and local business community with respect to China. With this grant, the existing curriculum for WPI students was improved, training and learning opportunities for WPI faculty and staff were started, and the knowledge base of the local business community was expanded. The results of this project have provided a solid foundation for the establishment of the China Hub at WPI.  
  • UISFL: WPI received a grant in the amount of $190K (Grant Award No. P016A120077) from the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program at the U.S. Department of Education for the project “Integrating Chinese Area Studies into the WPI STEM and Business Curricula” from September 1, 2012, to  December 31, 2015. WPI provided about $200K in-kind matching funds. The project leadership team included Jennifer Rudolph from the Humanities and Arts Department, Amy Zeng from the School of Business, and Jennifer deWinter from the Humanities and Arts Department. The primary goal of this UISFL proposal is to strengthen existing undergraduate offerings in Chinese language and culture and to develop new China programs to globalize existing WPI STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and Business programs by creating multiple modules about China that are discipline-specific. This proposal builds off WPI’s innovative Global Perspectives Program, the successes of the 2009 DOE-BIE grant, current China offerings, and a growing number of faculty with Asia expertise. This UISFL grant led to the establishment of the China Hub at WPI in 2013.  
  • Project GO: WPI has been awarded a Project GO grant of $200,000 from the Institute of International Education (IIE) that begins September 1, 2015. This is being awarded on a three-year cycle with one year awarded at a time. The project leadership team includes Huili Zheng and Xin Xin, both from the Humanities and Arts Department. WPI will serve a nationwide pool of 13 ROTC students at Beijing University of Chemical Technology during the summer of 2016, with the goal of having them attain Level 1 Proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. The project objectives are to provide students with an international educational and cultural experience in and around Beijing. The program will allow ROTC students to gain cultural and linguistic proficiency quickly and continue to advanced Mandarin study at their home institutions. Project GO students receive scholarships that fund tuition, room and board, round-trip travel, Chinese visa, insurance, and books.