Center for Project-Based Learning, 157 West Street, 1st floor
+1 (508) 8315000 x5344
Affiliated Department or Office
BS Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 1979
MS Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 1984
PhD Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 1987

As a Senior Fellow in WPI’s Center for Project-Based Learning, which I established in 2016, 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 has centered 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. On campus, I continue to be involved in WPI's signature offering, the Interactive Qualifying Project.

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.

Scholarly Work

Vaz, Richard, “Scalable and Sustainable Programs for Internationalizing US Engineering Education: Are They Achievable?”  Proceedings of the ASEE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2008.

Vaz, R., P. Quinn, A. Heinricher, and K. Rissmiller, “Gender Differences in the Long-Term Impacts of Project-Based Learning,” Proceedings of the 2013 ASEE Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, June 2013.

Vaz, R., and P. Quinn, “Long Term Impacts of Off-Campus Project Work on Student Learning and Development,” Proceedings of FIE 2014, Madrid, Spain, October 2014.

Vaz, Richard, and P. Quinn, “Benefits of a Project-Based Curriculum: Employers’ Perspectives,” Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, Seattle WA, June 2015.

Professional Highlights & Honors
, 1993

, 1999

, 2004
Association of American Colleges & Universities
, 1990
Eta Kappa Nu


Inside Higher ED
Academic Minute: Women in STEM Fields

In another Inside Higher Ed  segment, Rick Vaz, co-director of the Center for Project-Based Learning, discussed "Women in STEM Fields." “Project-based learning could be a powerful strategy to attract and retain more talented women into science and technology fields,” he said.

Inside Higher ED
High-Impact Practices Work

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.