In the fall of 2018, 13 students and one faculty member traveled to and from Boston, Massachusetts, to embark on a distinctive immersive project experience working with four local sponsoring organizations.
Boston, Massachusetts Project Center
Boston is a world-class city, featuring a wealth of cultural, educational, recreational, and tourist attractions. Students have the opportunity to explore the city’s many offerings—the Freedom Trail, the Museum of Science, the Boston Public Garden, professional sporting events, and many shopping areas, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Every fall students commute to the Boston Project Center to help local organizations tackle real-world problems addressing such topics as sustainability and climate change, the environment, and public health and safety.
Population: 685,094 (2017)
Official Language: English
Area: 89.63 sq mi
The IQP kicks off for these 13 students at the WPI Global Fair, nearly a year before they begin commuting to Boston. Here, with the help of students who've already had an immersive project experience, they learn about the various locations and project opportunities and begin to picture themselves in the city. Next step: the application process. An opportunity to immerse themselves in a major city and deal with real-world issues—without being disconnected from campus—makes Boston a top choice for many, and these students are excited to get started.
There’s no exaggeration in saying, "There’s little time to waste." One term later, the prep work begins in the form of two required courses: a class focused on project research, reporting, and team-building skills; and a weekly meeting with the project advisor. The students begin discussions with their sponsor about the project's goals, understanding team dynamics and how to work with teammates; following a rejuvenating summer break, they come back charged to hit the ground running on their project.
On day one the students begin their work —advisors and sponsors offer advice and support, but ultimately the project’s goals, deadlines, and deliverables are in the hands of the students. They don’t travel to Boston just for project work, however; with access to the commuter rail, they can regularly be found in the city during their time off from project work—exploring, dining, perhaps taking in a Red Sox game. In the end, after seven short weeks, they learn that this experience can potentially change their lives.
Before they know it, the term has come to an end and there’s time to reflect on the immersive learning experience and their personal growth over the seven weeks. From increased leadership, time management, and collaboration skills to solidified ideas about what they’d like to pursue in the future, the experience proves to be much more than a graduation requirement. Seeing their work impacting their sponsors has them motivated to keep pushing forward and to “see possibilities they can have in the world”—the only way from here is up.
Work at the Boston Project Center addresses such topics as water conservation, sustainability, and public health. Students, faculty, and sponsors come from different worlds to share their perspectives as they work together toward the common goal of city improvement.