WPI Plans for Fall Opening Latest Information

Global Initiatives: A Hub for Global Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies​

WPI is building on its long tradition of addressing the major social, technological, ecological, and economic challenges facing people around the world with technological and scientific knowledge. Shifting social, environmental, and cultural contexts allow us to transform research and education so that scholars and leaders in STEM, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences can respond to global issues we now understand to be more complex and diverse than we have previously imagined.

Professor Rob Krueger is leading a team of purpose-driven researchers, scholars, and students across social and physical sciences, humanities, engineering, and business who are passionate about advancing the frontiers of knowledge and developing communities of today and tomorrow. Leveraging established initiatives such as WPI’s Center for Global Public Safety and the Institute of Science and Technology for Development (InSTeD), as well as partnering with our new Global School, the team will deploy its resources across the planet. Our team, and our partnerships with researchers, educators, NGOs, and donors around the world, are working to transcend the boundaries of traditional science and engineering and develop responsible, sustainable, and culturally-appropriate solutions to great global problems. Our approach is one that promotes self-sufficiency as it pushes beyond the transactional concept of end-user to the more pluralistic concept of community co-designer.

We seek to develop partnerships with firms seeking to bring appropriate technology to the global south with global NGOs to work in the service of those who are disadvantaged because of ethnicity, gender, economic status, health care, and education. We can bring our cross-cutting efforts in the service of WPI’s other interdisciplinary initiatives, such as Smart World, Materials & Manufacturing, and BioPoint. Whether it’s community engagement, policy evaluation and development, or bringing technology in the service of others, we are available to offer expertise.

The following initiatives are emerging in 2020:

  • New graduate program in Science and Technology for Innovation in Global Development (Krueger)
  • Study of the potential human impacts of COVID-19 on people and communities—Humanities & Arts projects, the development of evidence-based policy and industrial solutions (Hansen and Stanlick)
  • Economic Development in Policy exchanges with the American University of Nigeria, Academic City College, University of Dakar, and the University of Ghana
  • Research on sustainable materials, such as coconut fibers as roofing material, adapting mHealth Apps for different cultural contexts, designing devices to protect miners, communities, and the environment from the deleterious effects of artisanal and small-scale mining, co-designing educational materials with teachers that leverage local ways of learning and understanding abstract concepts.
  • Typeface designers (developing computer language and typefaces to be more expressive for African applications)

First International Conference in Development Engineering

WPI organized the First International Conference in Development Engineering in Accra in February 2020. The conference brought together people from three continents to examine the role of science, technology, and innovation in the 21st century. Professor Anita Mattson sent one of her students to talk about malaria in Africa. The attendees, led by Provost Wole Soboyejo, Fred McBangonluri, and Rob Krueger, asked pointed questions about the role of experts and development and how it relates to new roles for engineers in an emerging subfield called “Development Engineering.” Through its networks the group is creating a professional society for Science, Technology, Innovation & Development and will continue to include communities—not as stakeholders, but as critical collaborators.

Development Design Lab

This year Krueger’s Development Design Lab hosted 24 Fellows in Ghana to deploy our values of inclusion and improving the human condition through transformative and transdisciplinary research, application, social change, and supportive policy development. With our partners, we aim to push development design beyond its current framing by drawing on the discipline of design, cross-cultural co-creation, and project-based learning in ways that will re-conceptualize the relationship between so-called “western” experts and the communities they hope to serve. We see technological innovation and intervention beyond simply transferring from “North to South” but rather as the collective manifestation ideas and action. We explore and implement change through lenses that understand the dynamic of co-creation, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and social justice.

WPI & the Public Interest Technology University Network

WPI is a new member of the Public Interest Technology University Network, which is a partnership of colleges, universities, and foundations committed to educating students who can better apply technical understanding and practice to questions of individual rights, justice, social welfare, and the public good. As part of the membership, WPI faculty and staff are eligible to submit proposals to PIT-UN’s 2020 Grant Challenge. The PIT University Network prioritizes awarding proposals to those which feature interdisciplinary collaborations in a campus and across multiple partner campuses. If you are interested in learning more about the program or seeking funding, please reach out to either Yunus Telliel or Rob Krueger.

WPI faculty members interested in joining the Global Initiatives Interdisciplinary Group may reach out to Rob Krueger (krueger@wpi.edu)