Every undergraduate student.  Every major. Discovering, designing, doing.

All WPI undergraduate students do significant research in pursuit of their degrees. It is in our DNA. 

We know that performing meaningful, purpose-driven undergraduate research with faculty early in a college career helps students gain a greater understanding of their discipline, see the implications of their work in the world, and develop a better focus on the career they want.

WPI’s motto, Lehr und Kunst, extols the importance of theory and practice. One without the other has less impact so, no matter what their career plans are, all students at WPI engage in research.

Undergraduate research at WPI runs the gamut from basic to applied to fundamental. Research problems come from within academia or from our business, industry, or government partners. 

  • The Major Qualifying Project (MQP)  is a required senior-year capstone research or design project within the major field of study in which undergraduate students bring to bear all the theory that they have learned in their disciplines to solve open-ended problems and to effectively communicate their results.
  • All undergraduate students do an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) in the junior year. They tackle issues at the intersection of science, technology, and culture, and in their work they learn how technology affects societal values and structures.
  • WPI undergraduate students have the opportunity to engage in significant inquiry as soon as they step on campus. The Great Problems Seminar is a two-term, project-based course that introduces first-year students to university-level research focusing on themes of global importance.

Beyond these opportunities, students may work with faculty and graduate students on research during the summer or during the academic year

Learning how to ask and solve open-ended questions leads to advances in whatever fields students are studying. Research takes undergraduate students past that important initial step of asking a question and leads them through the complexities of finding good solutions to original technical, scientific, and societal problems.

Why is undergraduate research valuable?

  • Builds close relationships and collaborations with faculty members
  • Increases graduate school preparation and admission
  • Improves communication skills
  • Prepares students for workforce readiness
  • Builds universal skills, including teamwork and project management
  • Nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship, potential patents, and intellectual property
  • Establishes a level of expertise as problems are solved and questions are answered
  • Engages corporate partners who offer problems to solve, resources to help, and additional opportunities for students
  • Promotes solving real-world problems for business, industry, and government partners
  • Aids in successful fellowships and grants applications
  • Offers experiences unlike anything found in a classroom

For the first time, undergraduate researchers presented their current research projects with poster presentations. The Works in Progress Undergraduate Research Symposium on November 25 allowed students to showcase their ongoing work for an MQP or other intensive design and research projects. Read more about Works in Progress. 

 

Contributing in the Field

Undergraduate students have worked closely on Marja Bakermans' research in studying migratory songbirds. They accompany her on field studies across Massachusetts to learn about the whip-poor-will and how to help rebuild its breeding populations.  

Promoting Vibrant Ecosystems by Studying Migratory Songbirds

Collaborating with Industry

Companies and organizations fund various WPI projects and give students real-world work experiences while solving an authentic industry problem. Undergraduate students often work on an MQP that is done in collaboration with industry partners. The following list is a sample of some companies that have sponsored WPI research projects.

Research is open-ended and life is open-ended—it is full of challenges and full of unknowns. Research prepares you for life.
Suzanne Weekes, associate dean of undergraduate studies
I have data-intensive projects in health and medicine and undergraduate students get excellent experience working from the initial data gathering all the way through to publication.
Brenton Faber, biomedical engineering and humanities & arts
Students need to work on problems where there is no right answer … at least not yet. That is a key property of research.
Art Heinricher, dean of undergraduate studies

News

WPI Assistant Professor Berk Calli will work with students on a project to develop robotics technologies for recycling centers. From left, James Akl, Fadi  Alladkani, Arianna Kan, Kyle Heavey, Mikayla Fischler, Calli and Snehal Dikhale. alt
WPI Assistant Professor Berk Calli will work with students on a project to develop robotics technologies for recycling centers. From left, James Akl, Fadi Alladkani, Arianna Kan, Kyle Heavey, Mikayla Fischler, Calli and Snehal Dikhale.
November 05, 2019
WPI students off campus project alt
WPI students collaborating on a project through the Melbourne, Australia Project Center.
February 04, 2019
Marja Bakermans with the subject of her current research: the whip-poor-will. This is one of several specimens she and her team captured and tagged during a recent evening in the field. alt
Marja Bakermans with the subject of her current research: the whip-poor-will. This is one of several specimens she and her team captured and tagged during a recent evening in the field.
June 26, 2018
Alissa O

Alissa O.

Senior, BS in Computer Science, Mathematical Sciences

Alissa sought out research opportunities with the Math Department that led to her completing an undergraduate research project with Vestigo Ventures—a project that has turned into her MQP and led to the submission of a research paper to IEEE.

joshdriscoll

Joshua D.

Senior, BS in Biology & Biotechnology

Joshua’s work on his IQP in Australia and ecological research he has completed––especially projects involving songbirds with Professor Marja Bakermans––has led to a valuable undergraduate experience and, hopefully, grad school in the future.