|Worcester Polytechnic Institute|
|Motto||"Lehr und Kunst" (German for "Theory and Practice")|
|Endowment||US $291.6 million|
|President||Dennis D. Berkey|
|Provost||John A. Orr|
|Location||Worcester, Mass., USA
|Campus||Residential, 80 acres / 32 ha|
20 varsity teams
|Colors||Cardinal Red ("Crimson", officially by the University) and Gray|
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. WPI's 14 academic departments offer more than 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 cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, and information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology. Students have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are 25 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1865 as the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science by John Boynton and Ichabod Washburn, two prominent Worcester industrialists. Stephen Salisbury II, Emory Washburn, George Frisbee Hoar, Phillip Moen, Seth Sweetser, David Whitcomb, and Charles O. Thompson were also instrumental in the founding of the school. The collaboration between Boynton, who wanted to teach science, and Washburn, who wanted to teach vocational skills, led to the university's philosophy of "theory and practice." 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. Though Boynton died before the first class entered in 1868, and Washburn died shortly afterwards, their contributions to WPI in its infancy are memorialized by Boynton Hall and Washburn Shops, the first two buildings on the campus.
WPI was led in its early years by president and professor of chemistry Charles O. Thompson. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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 currently a significant contributor to Worcester's growing biotechnology industry. Significant research in other fields such as metallurgy, untethered health care, fuel cells, the learning sciences, applied mathematics and fire protection currently help establish WPI as an important, specialized research university.
WPI is known for its champion curling team.
WPI is an urban school with what some have called "a suburban feel." The main campus is not gated, but it is entirely WPI owned and no public roads cross this part of the school. WPI sits on Boynton Hill, which sets it apart from the surrounding neighborhood. Situated only one block away from "the Hill" (as it is often referred to) is a stretch of restaurants and stores on Highland Street. A Subway sandwich shop, Tech Pizza, Boomer's Pizza, Dragon Dynasty (Chinese cuisine) the Bean Counter (coffee shop), the Sole Proprietor (an upscale seafood restaurant), a consignment shop, Tortilla Sams (a Mexican restaurant), and the Boynton (a bar and grill) are all located there.
As a superstition, it is said that setting foot on the seal in the center of the quadrangle will prevent a student from graduating in four years. In the graduation ceremony, students walk around the seal to get to their seats but walk over the seal as they leave. Since the seal is relatively new, this rumor may have been deliberately circulated to potential freshmen to help reduce wear. A tradition until the 1970s was that freshman could only cross the main road bisecting the campus via Earle Bridge.
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" inherited the building. The building was reconditioned in 2004. The building contains three doors to gain entry and it contains three floors.
WPI boasts one of 35 civilian research nuclear reactors licensed to operate in the United States. It is the only nuclear reactor in North America to be in a wood-framed building. The Nuclear Engineering program at WPI has been discontinued, and the reactor is not presently in use in any research.
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.
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 currently does not combine related departments into colleges or schools.
WPI's schedule is also unusual compared to most universities. Instead of a normal semester, WPI uses 7-week terms, labeled A-D, with an optional E term in the summer. A term typically begins on the second to last Thursday in August, while D term is usually scheduled to end on the first Tuesday of May. Each term is claimed to be roughly equivalent to a third of a year at another university. Thus, students are able to complete a year's worth of Chemistry, Physics, and Math in only a semester and a half. This faster pace allows for more study (by a student's senior year, they have already completed a normal four-year course track, essentially giving them an "extra" year. 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 not to satisfactorily complete the course or they 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's project-based curriculum makes it unique by requiring undergraduate students to complete a Sufficiency in the Liberal Arts (or a Technical Sufficiency for liberal arts majors), an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) to study the social effects of technology with students from other disciplines, and a Major Qualifying Project (MQP) within their own discipline. These projects are based on WPI's founding principle of theory alongside practice, though were introduced in the last 40 years. Usually, the Sufficiency, IQP, and MQP are completed in the sophomore, junior, and senior years, respectively. The MQP is similar to other schools' "senior thesis," while the IQP is a bit more unusual and sometimes difficult to explain on resumes.
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. Through the Global Perspective 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 Perspective Program, WPI sends more engineering students abroad than any US college or university. As of the 2009-2010 academic year, the program included established Project Centers for society-technology projects (IQPs) in Worcester; Boston; Nantucket; Washington, DC; Santa Fe, New Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; San Jose, Costa Rica; Copenhagen, Denmark; London, England; Venice, Italy; Windhoek, Namibia; Cape Town, South Africa; Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong, PRC; and Melbourne, Australia. Project Centers for senior design or research projects (MQPs) included MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Wall Street, New York; Silicon Valley; Gallo Wineries, California; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Limerick, Ireland; Nancy, France; Budapest, Hungary; and Wuhan, PRC. Between 1974, when the first WPI Project Center was established in Washington, DC, and 2006, over 7000 students had completed over 2000 projects in locations around the globe.
The Global Perspective Program was cited by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2000, when it named WPI one of 16 Greater Expectations Leadership Institutions to serve as models for the future of undergraduate education in the United States.
The Humanities Project, also known as a Sufficiency, is designed to assess well-roundedness in areas outside of technological knowledge. The project consists of five thematically-related courses in the humanities and arts (such as Western literature, musical composition, etc.), and culminates with a course-long independent project. This can be a variety of different things; recent Sufficiency projects include research into contemporary music history, a student giving a flute recital, original screenplays, and critiques of philosophy. Students interested in foreign languages often skip the project and take an additional course, though there are opportunities to do a project. Students who are majoring in a humanities and arts related field do a similar Sufficiency project in a science or engineering discipline.
The Humanities Project, or Sufficiency, was replaced by a new Humanities requirement starting with the class of 2011; current students have the option of either fulfilling the Sufficiency or the new requirement. More information regarding the change could be found here.
For more information regarding the Sufficiency, including a list of award-winning projects, visit this page.
The Interactive Qualifying Project, or IQP, is described as a "project which relates technology and science to society or human needs." 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 Perspective 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 it is done.
The Major Qualifying Project, or 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. 
In 2010, WPI's undergraduate program ranked #68 out of all doctoral universities according to US News and World Report. 
WPI has also been named the 22nd "Most Connected Campus" by The Princeton Review for 2006.
A recent ranking compiled by Forbes.com recognizing the “Top Colleges for Getting Rich” rated Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) ninth in the nation.
WPI has been elected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as one of 16 national Leadership Institutions that will define the future of liberal education.
In the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), WPI was ranked No. 1 out of 33 doctoral-intensive universities for "student-faculty interactions," a measure of the quality and quantity of time faculty spend with undergraduate students.
WPI's innovative undergraduate program also enjoys a strong reputation among education officials; the New England Association of Schools and Colleges favorably commented on the Institute's dedication and unique approach to science and engineering education. Furthermore, WPI's emphasis on international education through the Global Perspective Program has received much acclaim, including awards such as the 2003 TIAA-CREF Theodore Hesburgh Certificate and inclusion in NAFSA: Association of International Educators's list of fifteen universities to be used as models for internationalization.
BusinessWeek has ranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) #1 in the nation for its part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, and #1 in the nation for student satisfaction in the program.
Also, in 2010, WPI undergraduate major IMGD ranked 7th out of hundreds universities in Top Undergraduate Game Design Programs according to Princeton Review. 
WPI's student body stages a number of regular weekly events that students can enjoy. Some of them are listed below.
In addition to regularly scheduled campus activities, WPI is host to a number of annual 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.
Thirty percent of the students participate in Greek Life. There are currently 12 fraternities and 3 sororities on campus. 
Since 1982 WPI has offered a summer-program for high school science & engineering students named Frontiers. Also, beginning in 1997, WPI began offering a summer outreach program for girls entering the sixth grade, Camp REACH, to promote women in math & science. WPI participates in a collaborative effort with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the high schools of Massachusetts to support a school called the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI.Mass Academy is an 11th and 12th grade public high school for 100 academically accelerated youths. Juniors receive advanced high school classes at the academy building, with seniors taking the WPI freshman curriculum at the university. The program emphasizes math and science within a comprehensive, interactive program and is the only public school in Massachusetts whose students attend a university full time as seniors in high school.
A team of Worcester students led by Paul Ventimiglia of won the $500,000 first prize in the 2009 NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge in October 2009. Twenty collegiate teams qualified for the event held at the NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View, California managed by the California Space Education and Workforce Institute. Teams design, build and operate robotics that dig up and deposit at least 150 kilograms of simulated lunar material and deposit it in a collection bin, an important in any lunar construction in the future.
WPI is also known for its famous drop-outs:
For more information on notable alumni, please see: the WPI Library's Online Exhibition of Distinguished Alumni or The WPI International Corporate Leaders Roundtable.
WPI has employed several professors whose achievements have made them notable across the nation and the world.