Preparing students to be researchers

WPI’s hallmark projects program gives undergraduates opportunities to engage in research throughout their four years. Working with faculty members on campus in WPI's state-of-the-art laboratories, where they are often valued participants in graduate research projects; at leading research institutions, including University of Massachusetts Medical School; and with organizations around the globe through the university’s renowned Global Projects Program, undergraduates have the chance to dive deep and explore what it means to engage in high-level research. That’s why employers and graduate schools are eager to accept WPI graduates into the workforce and leading graduate programs. They have the knowledge and the interdisciplinary skills needed to attack a problem from all angles.

WPI Student Takes on Cancer Research at UMass Medical School

MassLive and the Worcester Herald all published articles about April Solon '17, who spent 10 weeks at the University of Massachusetts Medical School researching the effects and interaction of different drugs used to treat acute myeloid leukemia. Her work was funded by a grant from Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. "This summer was definitely very challenging," Solon said. "I definitely got a good look at what the research field is really like." She expects to graduate with a double major biology and biochemistry.

Project Presentation Day

The university each year celebrates undergraduate research through special awards and events, including Project Presentation Day—a campuswide symposium that gives every undergraduate the opportunity to share his or her Major Qualifying Project (MQP) with faculty advisors, sponsors, and the campus community.

Research Experience for Undergraduates

WPI is proud to host National Science Foundation REUs for students in Data ScienceBiomedical Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Summer Research Experiences

WPI supports individual student researchers in faculty labs via a competitive application process through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. More information may be obtained from the Undergraduate Studies Office at 508-831-5404.

At WPI, undergraduate students are actively involved in research with real-world impact. Through hands-on projects, lab work, and collaborations with faculty and peers, undergraduates are discovering innovative solutions to critical problems across a wide range of fields. The WPI Undergraduate Research Journal (WURJ) provides a venue to share these impressive research achievements with the campus and larger academic community. 

Luce Scholars: Promoting Women in STEM

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded the university a Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholar Award. The grant will support research by undergraduate women in math, computer science, physics, and robotics engineering and will fund up to eight research scholars annually over a three-year period.

WPI is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research

According to CUR, the definition of undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. WPI is a proud gold sponsor of the 2017 NCUR Conference. We are also pleased to announce that Natalie Wellen's MQP research on financial regulation has been selected for the 21st Posters on the Hill event in April in Washington, DC. 

Visit the CUR website to learn more about the organization.

Recent Student Research

Growing Power Vertical Farm

José Andrade, Austin Holliday, William Michalski, Juan Hernan Parra, Veronica Rivero Gorrin
Advisors: Leonard Albano, Leffi Cewe-Malloy

An entry in the 2015 Architectural Engineering Institute Student Competition, the project addressed the challenge of designing a building that will allow Growing Power Inc.—a national nonprofit organization that strives to provide “equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food”—to connect with the community at its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisc. With consideration to energy conversation, safety, accessibility, productivity, and sustainability, the team sought to facilitate the design of a vertical farm that would inspire the community to build sustainable food systems. Team members designed the vertical farm to contain classrooms, as well as kitchen, workshop, growing areas, and a market in order to demonstrate the uses and practices of sustainable food production.

​FPGA Real-time Stoplight Detection  

Michael Derryberry, Jeremiah McCarthy
Advisor: Xinming Huang

A significant amount of injuries sustained in traffic accidents are due to drivers ignoring stoplights. Past solutions to this problem have been both too expensive and too slow to be implemented for real-time detection of stoplights. This MQP developed a system that employed real-time calculations to accurately and quickly detect stoplights and alert the driver. The team identified a major problem with stoplight detection: other red objects, such as red taillights or street signs, in a driver’s field of vision may be confused for a stoplight. Thus, a stoplight can be detected by comparing the colors captured by a camera on the car’s dashboard to the unique color of a stoplight. In as little as 18 frames per second, their system uses a multi-analytical approach to identify if the red objects captured by the camera matches the color of a stoplight. Once a stoplight has been detected, the driver is alerted through either the flashing of an LED, or audio signals from a buzzer.

Picturing Information: Visual Usage in Humanities-Based Grant Application

Angelia Giannone
Advisor: Jennifer deWinter

The use of graphics was investigated as a means to convey information in grant proposals. Through a comprehensive analysis of 19 successful National Endowment for the Humanities proposals, the student identified the current practical uses of visuals as well as opportunities for improved usage of visual communication. She discovered that proposals in the field of humanities rely most heavily on text, which can obstruct clarity. In addition, not only is the use of visual aids infrequent, but it is also lacking in both diversity and complexity. The project work suggests that the purposeful use of visuals in grant proposals can be an effective strategy in communicating ideas, a critical factor in acquiring funding.