Worcester Polytechnic Institute
WPI logo.png
Former name
Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science (1865-1886)
MottoGerman: Lehr und Kunst
Motto in English
"Theory and Practice"[1]
TypePrivate research university
Established1865; 157 years ago (1865)
AccreditationNECHE
Academic affiliations
Endowment$505.5 million (2020)[2]
PresidentWinston Wole Soboyejo (interim)
ProvostArthur Heinricher (interim)
Academic staff
478
Undergraduates4,177
Postgraduates1,962
Location,
U.S.

42°16′28″N 71°48′27″W / 42.27444°N 71.80750°W / 42.27444; -71.80750Coordinates: 42°16′28″N 71°48′27″W / 42.27444°N 71.80750°W / 42.27444; -71.80750
CampusMidsize City, 80 acres (0.32 km2)
NewspaperTech News[3]
Colors  Crimson
  Gray
NicknameEngineers
Sporting affiliations
MascotGompei the Goat
Websitewww.wpi.edu
WPI wordmark.png

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private research university in Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1865 in Worcester, WPI was one of the United States' first engineering and technology universities and now has 14 academic departments with over 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees. WPI's faculty works with students in a number of research areas, including biotechnology, fuel cells, information security, surface metrology, materials processing, and nanotechnology. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[4]

History

Worcester Polytechnic Institute was founded by self-made tinware manufacturer, John Boynton, and Ichabod Washburn, owner of the world's largest wire mill. Boynton envisioned science schooling that would elevate the social position of the mechanic and manufacturer, but not necessarily teach the skills needed to become either. Washburn, on the other hand, wanted to teach technical skills through a sophisticated apprenticeship approach. Boynton consulted Seth Sweetser, a pastor, for ways to realize his vision. By chance it happened that Ichabod Washburn had previously consulted Sweetser about the proper way to actualize his own vision.[5]

John Boynton (left) and Ichabod Washburn (right).
John Boynton (left) and Ichabod Washburn (right).

Washburn was disappointed to learn of Boynton's offer to create a college, although Washburn claimed, "I prefer to be imposed upon by others rather than by myself in withholding where I ought to give," with the help of Sweetser's diplomacy and wisdom, he agreed to build, furnish, and endow a "Department of Practical Mechanics" at Boynton's school. He specified, however, that every student should blend theory learned in the classroom with practice in the shops.[5]

Sweetser drafted a letter expressing Boynton's and Washburn's wish to other significant men within Worcester County. The document was sent to 30 Worcester businessmen. It told of a "liberal proposal to found a Free School for Industrial Science" in Worcester and called for a meeting later in the month. After that meeting the following notice appeared in the Worcester Palladium: "A Gentleman, who for the present withholds his name from the public, offers a fund of $100,000 for the establishment of a scientific school in Worcester, upon the condition that our citizens shall furnish the necessary land and buildings." Further funding and land grants for the university were given by Stephen Salisbury II, who was an influential merchant and later served as the first president of the institute's board of directors.[6]

In response to this anonymous request, more than 225 Worcester citizens and the workers at 20 of the city's factories and machine shops contributed to the construction of the original building. On May 10, 1865, after House and Senate approval, the secretary of the commonwealth recorded the Institute as a legal corporation, and it came into formal existence.[5]

Boynton Hall, WPI's main administrative building
Boynton Hall, WPI's main administrative building

Both Boynton and Washburn died before the opening of the college on November 11, 1868. On that day, Charles O. Thompson, the first president of the Institute stood before WPI's first two buildings named Boynton Hall and Washburn Shops in honor of their respective donors, with their distinctive towers that even then symbolized the institution's two educational objectives of theory and practice, and inaugurated the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science.[7][8]

Washburn Shops, where WPI's first hands-on classrooms and laboratories were built in the 19th century.
Washburn Shops, where WPI's first hands-on classrooms and laboratories were built in the 19th century.

WPI was led in its early years by president and professor of chemistry Charles O. Thompson.[9] Early graduates of WPI went on to become mechanical and civil engineers, as well as artisans, bankers, and enter other prominent occupations. WPI continuously expanded its campus and programs throughout the early twentieth century, eventually including graduate studies and a program in electrical engineering. During World War II, WPI offered defense engineering courses and was selected as one of the colleges to direct the V-12 Navy College Training Program.[10]

During this time, WPI suffered from the lack of a unified library system, well-maintained buildings, and national recognition. This changed under the leadership of president Harry P. Storke from 1962 to 1969. Building on growth under Arthur Bronwell's presidency, Storke brought significant change to the school in what would be known as the WPI Plan. The Plan called for the creation of three projects and drastically redesigned the curriculum to address how a student learns. The Storke administration also launched a capital campaign that resulted in the creation of the George C. Gordon Library, added residence halls, an auditorium, and a modern chemistry building. Furthermore, women were first allowed to enter WPI in February 1968.[11] The WPI Plan is the guiding principle behind undergraduate education at the Institute today, and is arguably the most notable contribution WPI has made towards science and engineering education. In 2016, the National Academy of Engineering awarded their prestigious Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Innovation to WPI, recognizing the institute's groundbreaking approach to engineering education.[12]

Today, WPI is primarily an undergraduate-focused institution, though expansion of graduate and research programs is a long-term goal. The WPI Bioengineering Institute is a significant contributor to Worcester's growing biotechnology industry. Significant research in other fields such as robotics, metallurgy, untethered health care, fuel cells, the learning sciences, applied mathematics and fire protection currently help to maintain WPI's position as an important, specialized research university.

Campus

Sanford Riley Hall, the first residence hall built on campus (1927)
Sanford Riley Hall, the first residence hall built on campus (1927)
The Beech Tree stands at almost 100 feet tall
The Beech Tree stands at almost 100 feet tall
Earle Bridge
Earle Bridge

Set in an urban context in New England's second largest city,[13] WPI's main campus is entirely privately owned, ungated, and uninterrupted by public roads. The campus sits on Boynton Hill, apart from the adjacent neighborhood, which includes restaurants and stores on Highland Street.

Once a laboratory for electromagnetic research, the "Skull Tomb" was built entirely without ferrous metals. Several years after its construction, electrified trolley tracks were built in Worcester which led to the building's disuse. It served for a time as a site for Robert Goddard's rocket fuel research as the building is relatively isolated from other buildings on campus and Dr. Goddard's research had previously led to explosions on campus. Subsequent to the building earning its present nickname, "Skull", a secret honor society, inherited the building. The building was reconditioned in 2004.

The 'Two Towers' shown in old WPI logos show the clock tower of Boynton Hall and the arm and hammer weathervane of the Washburn Shops. The original weathervane was stolen in October 1975 and never recovered. Boynton and Washburn were the university's first buildings, housing the classrooms and laboratories, respectively. The Two Towers symbolize Theory and Practice, which are the foundation of the university and still the approach used today. Boynton was completed in 1868 and Washburn followed shortly after that same year.[14][15]

Higgins House
Higgins House

WPI's school colors, Crimson and Gray, were inspired by the natural pigmentation of the beech tree next to the bush sitting near the entrance of Boynton Hill. The tree was planted in 1945 and presently stands at over 60 feet tall.[16]

Near the edge of the WPI campus is a large Tudor-style mansion built in 1923 by WPI alumnus Aldus Chapin Higgins and later bequeathed to his alma mater. Named appropriately as the Higgins House, the mansion and the surrounding English garden serves as the backdrop for many alumni events and is the headquarters for the Office of Alumni Relations.[17]

WPI had one of 35 civilian research nuclear reactors licensed to operate in the United States. It was built and used in research during the height of the Cold War but the school's nuclear program ended at the turn of the century. The reactor was decommissioned and filled-in early in 2018 due to heightened security around reactors post-9/11 and lack of need.[18]

A large bronze statue of Gompei the Goat stands at the quad side of the Bartlett Center, WPI's admission building. Gompei was an actual goat given as a gift by the class of 1891 and eventually became the school's official mascot. It was named after the first elected goat keeper, Gompei Kuwada. The original bronze goat head is located in the Skull Tomb, on a shelf with carved rocks and empty liquor bottles.[19]

Foisie Innovation Studio, opened August 2018
Foisie Innovation Studio, opened August 2018

The Innovation Studio and Messenger Hall, a $49 million, 78,000-square-foot residential and classroom facility was dedicated in 2018. The Foisie Innovation Studio, designed by Gensler, contains a robotics lab, a makerspace, and high-tech classrooms. Messenger Hall is a residence hall with 140 beds and tech suites.[20]

Academics

Kaven Hall is home to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Kaven Hall is home to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Goddard Hall, named for alum Robert H. Goddard
Goddard Hall, named for alum Robert H. Goddard
Higgins Laboratories
Higgins Laboratories

WPI offers a variety of majors in engineering, science, management, liberal arts, and social science at the undergraduate and graduate level. It is most well known for its engineering disciplines and is one of the top-ranked schools to attend for engineering in North America and the world over. Unlike many peer universities, WPI does not combine related departments into colleges or schools.

WPI's undergrad schedule is also unusual compared to most universities. Instead of a normal semester, WPI has 7-week terms, labeled A through D, with optional E Terms 1 and 2 in the summer. It is normal to take three courses during each term, which allows students to complete a year's worth of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, etc. in only one semester. This faster pace allows for students to take more courses to substantiate their diploma. The graduate student calendar follows a conventional two semester schedule.

WPI's student performance evaluation system uses grades A, B, or C. If a student were to not satisfactorily complete the course or elect to drop the course, they would receive a No Record (NR). The NR designation is used since there is no differentiation between a dropped course or an unsuccessful attempt to complete it.

WPI Corporate and Professional Education (CPE) also offers academic opportunities to individuals and companies. Programs can be offered online, onsite, on campus, or in a blended format. CPE has graduate programs, online degrees and professional development workshops. Among its recent program additions, CPE launched the first online Graduate Certificate in Program Protection Planning, and a new Graduate Certificate focused on Cyber Security for Power Systems.

Project-based learning system

WPI's curriculum is focused on project-based learning, an emphasis established in 1970 as part of what was called the WPI Plan.[21] This allows for a student to learn theory and practices concurrently. This approach includes an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) to study the social effects of technology collaboratively with students from other disciplines and a Major Qualifying Project (MQP) that falls within the student's discipline, though they were introduced in the last 40 years. Usually the IQP, and MQP are completed in the junior and senior years, respectively. The MQP is similar to other schools' "senior thesis," while the IQP is a bit more unique.

Global Projects Program

At WPI, the opportunity to complete significant project work off campus is an integral element of an academic program that emphasizes the practical application of knowledge to meaningful technical and societal problems. As of the class of 2022, all first-year students receive a global project scholarship of up to $5,000 for this work. Through the Global Projects Program, over 60% of WPI students complete at least one of their required projects at an off-campus Project Center. Typically, students work under faculty guidance in small teams at Project Centers to address problems posed by external agencies and organizations.

Through the Global Projects Program, WPI sends more engineering students abroad than any US college or university. As of the 2019–2020 academic year, the program included established over 50 Project Centers spanning 6 continents.[22] Between 1974, when the first WPI Project Center was established in Washington, DC, and 2014, over 7,000 students had completed over 2,000 projects in locations around the globe.

The Global Projects Program was cited by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2000, when it named WPI one of its 16 Greater Expectations Leadership Institutions to serve as models for the future of undergraduate education in the United States.

Alden Memorial is the main building for the performing arts at WPI, consisting of a performance hall, music rooms, music technology labs, and music robotics labs.[15]
Alden Memorial is the main building for the performing arts at WPI, consisting of a performance hall, music rooms, music technology labs, and music robotics labs.[15]
The Fountain at WPI. An anemometer adjusts the height of the water based on the wind velocity.
The Fountain at WPI. An anemometer adjusts the height of the water based on the wind velocity.

Interactive Qualifying Project

The Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) is described as a "project which relates technology and science to society or human needs."[23] This project is very broad in scope, encompassing a wide variety of topics and actions. Generally, IQPs are designed to solve a societal problem using technology. This can range from improving high school science education to redesigning an irrigation system in Thailand. This project is often done off-campus through WPI's Global Projects Program. From an educational perspective, the IQP serves to emphasize team-based work and introduces a real-world responsibility absent from courses. Many IQPs have made a significant impact on the community in which they are done.

Major Qualifying Project

The Major Qualifying Project (MQP) assesses knowledge in a student's field of study. As mentioned above, this project is similar to a senior thesis, with students doing independent research or design. MQPs are often funded by either WPI or external corporations. Topics of MQPs done in the recent past include the design of the MIR 2 space station life support system module, a study of the effects of stress and nicotine on ADHD, the design of a research rocket, a mathematical viscoelastic cell motility model, experimental research of liquid crystals using atomic force microscopy, and the design of polymers for medicine delivery.[24]

General Requirements

To create a rounded experience, students are also required to fulfill a Humanities and Arts requirement as well as a Social Science & Policy Studies requirement. These are intended to give width, breadth, and context to an engineering degree.

Rankings and reputation

Academic rankings
National
ARWU[25] 191-206
Forbes[26] 93
THE/WSJ[27] 120
U.S. News & World Report[28] 66
Washington Monthly[29] 99
Global
ARWU[30] 901-1000
QS[31] 701-750
THE[32] 601-800
U.S. News & World Report[33] 1358

WPI was ranked tied for 66th among national universities in U.S. News & World Report's 2021 review of "Best Colleges" in the U.S. U.S. News & World Report also rated it tied at 42nd for "Most Innovative", 67th for "Best Value", and 265th for "Top Performers on Social Mobility" among national universities.[34]

In 2013, Businessweek ranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) No. 1 in the nation for its part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, and No. 1 in the nation for student satisfaction in the program.[35]

In August 2019, Forbes magazine's annual ranking of "America's Top Colleges" placed WPI at No. 93. "Forbes’ college ranking is distinguished by its consumer-centric approach," said Caroline Howard, Director of Editorial Operations, Forbes. "The evaluation of the 650 undergraduate institutions is based exclusively on the quality of the education they provide, the experiences of the students and their post-graduate success and financial well-being."[36]

In 2017, WPI received a gold rating through Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (also known as STARS) for its sustainability efforts.[37][38] Worcester Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.[39]

Campus life

Traditions

WPI is host to a number of annual and weekly events. These events usually only attract students, though some events such as Gaming Weekend and Quadfest are large enough to draw in off-campus visitors. Some are listed below in order of occurrence.

2008 WPI home game against Liberty League opponent, Union College.
2008 WPI home game against Liberty League opponent, Union College.
A large bronze statue of Gompei the Goat stands proudly at the Quad.
A large bronze statue of Gompei the Goat stands proudly at the Quad.
Major SocComm activities are held at the Quad.
Major SocComm activities are held at the Quad.

More than thirty percent of the undergraduate students participate in Greek Life. There are 13 fraternities and 6 sororities at WPI.[42] There is also one co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. See the List of WPI fraternities and sororities.

Athletics

Main article: WPI Engineers

WPI supports 20 varsity athletic teams that compete in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, New England Wrestling Association, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference. WPI athletic teams compete intercollegiately at the NCAA Division III level.

Athletic center

Sports and Recreation Center
Sports and Recreation Center

WPI's 145,000-square-foot, LEED-certified building Sports and Recreation Center was dedicated in 2012, and includes racquetball and squash courts, jogging track, and swimming pool.[43]

Mascot

Gompei the Goat
Gompei the Goat

In the spring of 1891, the class of 1893 stole a goat and used it as a mascot. The goat was tended by a student, Gumpei (Gompei) Kuwada, because he was the only one with the initials G.K. in reference to the job of goat keeper. The mascot of WPI is still a goat and in honor of the first goat keeper the mascot's name is Gompei.

Student newspaper

In 2018 Tech News, formerly known as The Towers and Newspeak, was the current name of a student-run newspaper founded in 1909, with an online version and physical copies produced.[3]

Wireless Association (W1YK)

History of the Association

Charter of affiliation of the Wireless Association with the ARRL (1920).
Charter of affiliation of the Wireless Association with the ARRL (1920).

The WPI Wireless Association is regarded as the first College Amateur Radio Club to be on the air.[44] Founded in 1909, by Oliver B. Jacobs and a group of 40 other men, the club has a historically significant role in the early age of wireless communications both in the United States and the world.[citation needed] The Wireless Association was one of the first 12 stations heard by Paul Godely,[45] an American who went to Scotland to conduct the first Transatlantic Tests, when stations in America and Scotland tried to hear each other across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Current Association

The current club has members, with Amateur Ham Licenses ranging from Technician to the highest class, Amateur Extra. The club currently and has operated for decades out of the Radio Shack on the roof of Salisbury Laboratories. The club manages several public repeaters that reach around Worcester such as the Higgins Repeater.[46] W1YK, the official Federal Communications Commission-licensed callsign of the club, and its members participate in the American Radio Relay League Sweepstakes each year, including the November Sweeps. The members of the club participate in marathons, triathlons, and other events that need radio operators.

Alumni

Main page: Category:Worcester Polytechnic Institute alumni

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Worcester Polytechnic Institute" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Lesley Small and Jayne Rossetti in 2022, first women enrolled at WPI (class of 1972).
Lesley Small and Jayne Rossetti in 2022, first women enrolled at WPI (class of 1972).

Faculty

WPI has employed several professors whose achievements have made them notable across the nation and the world.

See also

References

  1. ^ "From the President". Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  2. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "About Us". Tech News. Tech News (student organization). Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  4. ^ "Carnegie Classifications Institution Lookup". carnegieclassifications.iu.edu. Center for Postsecondary Education. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c [1] URL accessed on July 8, 2012
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  8. ^ WPI's Founding Fathers: Ichabod Washburn Archived September 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 23, 2006
  9. ^ Two Towers: The Story of Worcester Tech 1865–1965 Archived September 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 23, 2006
  10. ^ Two Towers: The Story of Worcester Tech 1865–1965 Archived September 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 23, 2006
  11. ^ The Miracle at Worcester: The Story of the WPI Plan Archived September 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 23, 2006
  12. ^ The National Academy of Engineering Recognizes WPI Retrieved October 3, 2018
  13. ^ STAFF, John J. Monahan TELEGRAM & GAZETTE. "Challenge boosts two cities' populations". telegram.com.
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  15. ^ a b "About WPI". WPI.
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  17. ^ WPI Alumni Office [3], Retrieved on June 6, 2012
  18. ^ coldwar-ma [4], Retrieved on December 11, 2012
  19. ^ Goat's Head [5], Retrieved on July 1, 2012
  20. ^ Duffy, Alison (September 14, 2018). "WPI Opens the Foisie Innovation Studio and Messenger Hall". Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  21. ^ "The WPI Plan". WPI. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  22. ^ "Project Center Directory". WPI. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  23. ^ WPI Projects Program Retrieved July 28, 2006
  24. ^ WPI Project Presentation Day 2006, Retrieved July 28, 2006.
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  33. ^ "2021 Best Global Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  34. ^ "Worcester Polytechnic Institute Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  35. ^ "Bloomberg Businessweek Rates WPI School of Business No. 1 in the Nation for Entrepreneurship". WPI. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  36. ^ Communications, Forbes Corporate. "Forbes Releases Annual Ranking of America's Top Colleges". Forbes.
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  40. ^ WPI Lens and Lights: Projection Archived April 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on July 4, 2007
  41. ^ [6] Archived January 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on November 15, 2011
  42. ^ Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2011). "Student Activities Office: Fraternity and Sorority Chapters at WPI". Retrieved October 19, 2011.
  43. ^ "WPI Dedicates its Sports and Recreation Center". Worcester Polytechnic Institute. September 5, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  44. ^ "WPI Wireless Association | The History". wpiwa.wpi.edu. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  45. ^ "Paul Godley Dies; Pioneer in Radio". The New York Times. October 22, 1973. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  46. ^ "WPI Wireless Association | Repeaters". wpiwa.wpi.edu. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  47. ^ "Everett John Lake". August 14, 2015.
  48. ^ "L. C. Jones, Candidate for Attorney General". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, VT. June 3, 1930. p. 2.
  49. ^ Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: December 22nd, 2003 Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved October 12, 2007
  50. ^ Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1993–1994[permanent dead link], p. 157
  51. ^ Jaco, Charles (August 19, 2012). "The Jaco Report: August 19, 2012". Fox News. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  52. ^ "Alumni". WPI.
  53. ^ "Representative Giovanni Capriglione's Biography". Project Vote Smart. 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.