As Director of WPI’s Center for Project-Based Learning, I work with colleagues across campus to help advance project-based learning at colleges and universities around the nation and the globe. We also support project-based learning here on the WPI campus. Most of my scholarly and professional activity centers around experiential and international education. Through my involvement in organizations such as the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Society for Engineering Education, I work to promote WPI’s approach to undergraduate education as a national model.
I received my PhD in electrical engineering from WPI, focusing on signal analysis and machine vision. I held systems and design engineering positions with the Raytheon Company, GenRad Inc., and the MITRE Corporation before joining the WPI Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty in 1987. While I greatly enjoyed my work as an engineering faculty member, over time my interests in interdisciplinary teaching and learning and international education resulted in increasing involvement in WPI’s student project programs, both on campus and elsewhere. I served as Dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies for ten years, and have advised hundreds of undergraduate research projects in Australia, England, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Namibia, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the United States.
Professional Highlights & Honors
Inside Higher Ed featured this op-ed by Richard Vaz, director, Center for Project-Based Learning. “The benefits of having students tackle authentic problems are powerful. Problems that communities or organizations face are almost always interdisciplinary and require consideration of a range of stakeholders’ perspectives,” he wrote.
This Inside Higher Ed article featured work by WPI faculty and administration to clarify the university’s faculty promotion guidelines to better support associate professors and offer options that go beyond traditional research paths.