The Global Leader in Project-based Learning
Projects are at the heart of a WPI education, and our signature project-based approach to a STEM undergraduate education, known as the WPI Plan, is instrumental in preparing students for the future.
Through a project-based education, students discover the value of learning by doing. They take the hypothetical and make it real, applying skills and concepts from the classroom to real problems, leading to real-world experience and impact. Each journey is distinctive, but regardless of the paths students follow, these hands-on learning experiences help them build confidence, leadership, collaborative, and critical thinking skills. It’s not just what students learn, but how they learn, that proves invaluable for a lifetime—professionally and personally.
In 1970, WPI’s STEM curriculum was radically reengineered to provide students with hands-on learning experiences through a project-based education. Seven-week terms create space for team-based, real-world experiences, and a unique grading system with a focus on teamwork and experimentation allows for experiential learning rooted in faculty guidance. And since we believe a well-rounded project-based education is crucial to ensuring students become better scientists, engineers, and business leaders, all students are required to complete the equivalent of a minor in the humanities and arts.
per term for undergraduate studies
It's not theory then practice. It's theory AND practice.
The best way to ensure hands-on opportunities in college is through projects, and that’s exactly what’s at the core of the WPI project-based education. Experiential learning is key here, requiring students to delve into authentic problems, and extend their classroom knowledge to real-world experience. From day one of the Great Problems Seminar, early exposure to the culture and practice of project-based learning and learning by doing is motivational (97% of first year students return for their sophomore year), laying the foundation for classroom work and the team-based major projects they’ll eventually undertake.
We believe a global consciousness leads to a broader perspective, which is why many of WPI’s projects aren’t just on campus, but around the world. Our Global Projects Program includes 50+ diverse project centers located across six continents where students complete interdisciplinary and major capstone STEM projects, as well as work focusing on the humanities and arts. Fully immersed in hands-on learning experiences and cultures around the globe, these real-world experiences are often transformative for students, having a profound and lasting impact.
of students are eligible for a Global Scholarship to complete life-changing project work
global project centers on six continents
years of undergraduate project experiences through the Global Projects Program
undergraduate students with off-campus project experience
Life-changing. That’s how students and alumni describe WPI's distinctive approach to project-based learning. Tackling authentic problems that matter to others helps students develop perseverance, empathy, and self-efficacy while also gaining valuable skills that help them succeed in their careers and lives. From these hands-on learning experiences—both in and out of the classroom—students leave WPI more sophisticated, well-rounded, globally aware, and prepared for whatever the world throws at them.
Project Work Pays Off
WPI’s unique project-based approach to STEM education has been lauded in the academic world for years, but one of the most compelling acknowledgements is by those who know the benefits of a WPI's hands-on learning experiences firsthand—WPI alumni. A survey of 2,500+ WPI alumni across a span of 38 years revealed the powerful professional and personal impact of project work and learning by doing.
Impact of PBL on WPI Students and Alumni
Advancing Resiliency Projects in Puerto Rico
In Spring 2021, sensing that pandemic-fueled international travel restrictions were not going away anytime soon, Professor Emeritus Scott Jiusto and Associate Professor Gbetonmasse Somasse began looking for an alternative travel experience for students scheduled to head to the Cape Town, South Africa, Project Center they co-direct. They weren’t alone. Many global project center directors were faced with the same conundrum, recognizing that—for many students—leaving campus and traveling abroad are essential parts of the distinctive Interactive Qualifying Project experience.
A Project Center Close to Home
“Whether it’s because of on-campus responsibilities or a local job, not all students want to travel far [for their IQP],” says Lisa Stoddard, associate professor of teaching and director of the Farm Stay Project Center. “Regardless of where they go, we want all students to have the chance to experience the mainstay of a WPI education.”
Alumni Success Story: Kristophe Zephyrin '21
Even as a child, Zephyrin had grand ambitions to save the world and improve the human condition, starting with a dream of creating urban green spaces in his hometown of Houston, Texas.