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Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private university located in Worcester
Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population is 181,045, making it the second largest city in New England after Boston....

, Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, in the United States.

Founded in 1865 in Worcester
Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population is 181,045, making it the second largest city in New England after Boston....

, WPI was one of the United States' 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 research areas, including biotechnology, fuel cells, information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology.

Students may participate with worldwide communities and organizations 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
Worcester County, Massachusetts
-Demographics:In 1990 Worcester County had a population of 709,705.As of the census of 2000, there were 750,963 people, 283,927 households, and 192,502 families residing in the county. The population density was 496 people per square mile . There were 298,159 housing units at an average density...

 Free Institute of Industrial Science by John Boynton and Ichabod Washburn
Ichabod Washburn
Ichabod Washburn was a church deacon and industrialist from Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA. His financial endowments led to the naming of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and the foundation of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.Washburn became an apprentice in...

, two prominent Worcester industrialists. Stephen Salisbury II, Emory Washburn
Emory Washburn
Emory Washburn was a United States political figure. Born in 1800 in Leicester, Massachusetts, Washburn was the 22nd Governor of Massachusetts from 1854 to 1855. He was elected as a member of the United States Whig Party defeating Henry W. Bishop and Henry Wilson with 46% of the vote...

, 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 grant
Land grant
A land grant is a gift of real estate – land or its privileges – made by a government or other authority as a reward for services to an individual, especially in return for military service...

s 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
Graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...

 and a program in electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, WPI offered defense engineering courses and was selected as one of the colleges to direct the V-12 Navy College Training Program
V-12 Navy College Training Program
The V-12 Navy College Training Program was designed to supplement the force of commissioned officers in the United States Navy during World War II...


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
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

 industry. Significant research in other fields such as metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

, untethered health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, fuel cells, the learning sciences
Learning sciences
The term Learning Sciences refers to an interdisciplinary field that works to further scientific understanding of learning as well as to engage in the design and implementation of learning innovations, and improvement of instructional methodologies...

, applied mathematics
Applied mathematics
Applied mathematics is a branch of mathematics that concerns itself with mathematical methods that are typically used in science, engineering, business, and industry. Thus, "applied mathematics" is a mathematical science with specialized knowledge...

 and fire protection
Fire protection
Fire protection is the study and practice of mitigating the unwanted effects of fires. It involves the study of the behaviour, compartmentalisation, suppression and investigation of fire and its related emergencies, as well as the research and development, production, testing and application of...

 currently help establish WPI as an important, specialized research university.


WPI is an urban school in New England's second largest city after Boston. 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, which includes restaurants and stores on Highland Street.

Once a laboratory for electromagnetic research, the "Skull tomb" http://www.wpi.edu/about/tour/skull.html 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 building contains three sequential doors to gain entry and it contains three floors.

WPI boasts one of 35 civilian research nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s licensed to operate in the United States. It is the only nuclear reactor in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 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 undergrad schedule is also unusual compared to most universities. Instead of a normal semester, WPI has 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 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. Most recently, CPE launched its Lean Six Sigma Green Belt program that helps companies with process improvement.

Project System

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
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 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.

Global Perspective 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. 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 7,000 students had completed over 2,000 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.

Humanities Project

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.

Interactive Qualifying Project

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.

Major Qualifying Project

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.

Rankings and Reputation

WPI consistently ranks as a tier-one (highest tier) university according to U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

. As of 2011, WPI's undergraduate program ranks at #62 out of all doctoral universities.
WPI is also renowned for producing high earning graduates. It placed in PayScale.com's top ten for median starting salaries since 2008 where it ranked 7th with graduates earning starting salaries averaging at $61,200 in the 2011-2012 report.
Bloomberg Businessweek, commonly and formerly known as BusinessWeek, is a weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg L.P. It is currently headquartered in New York City.- History :...

ranks WPI 17th nationwide for return on investment while Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

ranked it #9 in a 2008 study, "Top Colleges for Getting Rich", based on median and top salary of graduates at the start and end of their career.

WPI has also been named the 22nd "Most Connected Campus" by The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review is an American-based standardized test preparation and admissions consulting company. The Princeton Review operates in 41 states and 22 countries across the globe. It offers test preparation for standardized aptitude tests such as the SAT and advice regarding college...

 for 2006.

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
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
NAFSA: Association of International Educators is a non-profit professional organization for professionals in all areas of international education including education abroad advising and administration, international student advising, campus internationalization, admissions, outreach, overseas...

's list of fifteen universities to be used as models for internationalization.

Bloomberg Businessweek, commonly and formerly known as BusinessWeek, is a weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg L.P. It is currently headquartered in New York City.- History :...

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 of universities in Top Undergraduate Game Design Programs according to The Princeton Review. In 2011, WPI managed to rank 6th.

Student Life

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.
  • Gaming Weekend - A bi-annual three-day event hosted by the SFS that revolves around games of all sorts: board games, RPGs, video games, and even "Duck, Duck, Goose." It usually takes place around Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of D term. The SFS has a burgeoning stock of various games in a library at the basement of Riley Hall allowing for such an event to take place.
  • Homecoming - sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, this fall event brings numerous alumni back to campus to celebrate the past, present, and future of the University.
  • Tuesday Dance Socials - Every week, the Social Dance Club takes over the Campus Center stage from 7:00pm to 12:00am. A variety of music is played for dancers to break out their moves to Argentine tango, Salsa, Swing, and Discofox, among other dances. Socialization is promoted through the media of dance as well as conversation.
  • Greek Week - An annual week-long event that begins the week prior to homecoming. Each of the Greek houses compete in several events that include but are not limited to: Capture the flag, water balloon toss, talent show competition, and a float parade on the morning of homecoming.
  • Saturday Night Gaming - A weekly video game night hosted by the Game Development Club. Games include Rock Band, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Dance Dance Revolution, and others. Members of the WPI Pokémon Trainers League also meet and play Pokémon games together. Games are located in the Taylor and Chairman's Room on the first floor of the Campus Center.
  • Weekend Movies - Hosted by SocComm's Films committee. Every Saturday and Sunday, a new film is shown on the WPI campus in Fuller Laboratoires weeks prior to its DVD release. The projection of these movies is handled by LnL. WPI is one of the few universities capable of showing both 35 mm film
    35 mm film
    35 mm film is the film gauge most commonly used for chemical still photography and motion pictures. The name of the gauge refers to the width of the photographic film, which consists of strips 35 millimeters in width...

     and 70 mm film
    70 mm film
    70mm film is a wide high-resolution film gauge, with higher resolution than standard 35mm motion picture film format. As used in camera, the film is wide. For projection, the original 65mm film is printed on film. The additional 5mm are for magnetic strips holding four of the six tracks of sound...

     in the same hall.
  • Penny Wars - Created and operated by Alpha Chi Rho
    Alpha Chi Rho
    Alpha Chi Rho is a men's collegiate fraternity founded on June 4, 1895 at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut by the Reverend Paul Ziegler, his son Carl Ziegler, and Carl's friends William Rouse, Herbert T. Sherriff and William A.D. Eardeley. It is a charter member of the North-American...

    , Penny Wars is an annual fund raiser where clubs and Greek organizations on campus compete to raise money for charity. The goal is to collect the most pennies, however, any money other than pennies counts against your score. Most of the money raised is from competing clubs offsetting the competition with dollars or larger denominations, since it all goes to charity.
  • Costume! Dance! Party! - An annual event held by the Game Development Club. The event falls near Halloween, and includes a costume contest, over 100 pounds of free candy, and many giveaways.
  • Latin Dance Party - An annual dance held during New Student Orientation. This is a Social Dance Club kickoff event for freshman complete with Cuban Salsa lessons for beginners and 'experienced' dancers alike. It is SDC's way of welcoming new students and introducing them to the dance community on campus.
  • Winter Carnival - Another event hosted by WPI's Social Committee (SocComm), this event is a week long grouping of smaller events, ending in a major event (such as a concert or a well known performer).
  • Service Auction - Alpha Phi Omega
    Alpha Phi Omega
    Alpha Phi Omega is the largest collegiate fraternity in the United States, with chapters at over 350 campuses, an active membership of approximately 17,000 students, and over 350,000 alumni members...

     asks the students, faculty, and staff to donate services such as baking a pie, horseback riding, or building a sandcastle and then auctions them off to the student body and surrounding community. The person who donated the highest bid item then selects a charity where all of the raised funds are donated.
  • Diya - An annual celebration of the Indian festival Diwali, hosted by WPI's India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    n Student Organization (ISO). Diya usually features performances of Indian songs, Bollywood dances, skits, and other events signifying Indian culture, with Indian food served at dinner.
  • Dragon Night - An annual celebration, generally meant to tie into Chinese New Year
    Chinese New Year
    Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and South-East-Asia celebration...

    , hosted by WPI's Chinese
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     Student Association (CSA). Dragon Night usually features Chinese food, lion dancing, and other elements of Chinese culture.
  • National Day of Silence - Every year, BiLaGa and other organizations lead an effort on campus for students to observe the National Day of Silence, an event created to raise awareness about those oppressed by various ideologies, such as bigotry
    A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs...

     and political correctness
    Political correctness
    Political correctness is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts,...

  • Quadfest - The largest event held on campus by the WPI Social Committee (SocComm). It takes place during the final week of the WPI school year. Events include musical acts, movies, and special booths created by WPI clubs and organizations. Information about past Quadfest events can be found in the QuadFest Archives.
  • WPI Talent and NSBE Fashion Show - Beginning in 2007, the National Society of Black Engineers
    National Society of Black Engineers
    National Society of Black Engineers , founded in 1975 at Purdue University, is one of the largest student-run organizations in the US, centered on improving the recruitment and retention of African-American engineering students.-History:...

     chapter combined their 7th annual Fashion Show and 3rd annual Talent Show into a single event. The Talent Show part gives every WPI student an opportunity to showcase their talent to each other, and the Fashion show is meant to promote professionalism and how to dress for success, tying into the core purpose of the NSBE.
  • Winter Ball - A ballroom dance social hosted by WPI's Ballroom Dance Team during the winter where couples in evening wear can learn and dance ballroom dances such as Waltz, Foxtrot, ChaCha, and Rumba in Alden Memorial.
  • Wall of Sound - This event is hosted annually by the Lens and Lights Club. It consists of about 70,000 Watts worth of speakers blasting music over 120dB volumes. For the price of $1, students can get a song of their choice to be played. Proceeds benefit a local charity.
  • Comedy Festival - A biennial comedy festival hosted by WPI's Student Comedy Productions (SCP) at the end of the academic year, first produced in 2002. A several-day event showcasing the comedic talents of college students both inside and outside WPI, the festival has featured the school's three comedy troupes; improv, sketch, and standup comedy troupes from around New England, and even the mesmerizing talents of Tufts University's mime troupe HYPE!

Thirty percent of the undergraduate students participate in Greek Life. There are currently 13 fraternities and 5 sororities at WPI. There is also one co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega
Alpha Phi Omega
Alpha Phi Omega is the largest collegiate fraternity in the United States, with chapters at over 350 campuses, an active membership of approximately 17,000 students, and over 350,000 alumni members...

. See the List of WPI fraternities and sororities.

Other Opportunities at WPI

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
Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI
Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI was founded in 1992 by the Massachusetts State Legislature as a public magnet school to serve academically advanced youth in grades eleven and twelve in math, science, and technology.The school emphasizes...

. 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 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. Of the three teams who placed in the competition, all were represented by team members who are WPI alumni.

There are also opportunities for companies through Corporate and Professional Education (CPE). CPE offers graduate programs and professional development programs that focus on a wide variety of industries and topics. Programs can be delivered online, onsite, on campus or in a blended format.

Notable Alumni

  • Robert H. Goddard
    Robert H. Goddard
    Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

     is WPI's best-known alumnus. Goddard graduated in 1908 and is widely regarded as the Father of Modern Rocketry.
  • Harold Stephen Black
    Harold Stephen Black
    Harold Stephen Black was an American electrical engineer, who revolutionized the field of applied electronics by inventing the negative feedback amplifier in 1927. To some, his invention is considered the most important breakthrough of the twentieth century in the field of electronics, since it...

    , revolutionized electronics by inventing the negative feedback amplifier in 1927.
  • Gilbert Vernam
    Gilbert Vernam
    Gilbert Sandford Vernam was an AT&T Bell Labs engineer who, in 1917, invented the stream cipher and later co-invented the one-time pad cipher. Vernam proposed a teleprinter cipher in which a previously-prepared key, kept on paper tape, is combined character by character with the plaintext message...

    , class of 1914, credited with the dawn of modern cryptography
  • Richard T. Whitcomb, class of 1943, aeronautical engineer responsible for the "area rule
    Area rule
    The Whitcomb area rule, also called the transonic area rule, is a design technique used to reduce an aircraft's drag at transonic and supersonic speeds, particularly between Mach 0.75 and 1.2....

    " of high-speed aircraft design, the supercritical airfoil
    Supercritical airfoil
    A supercritical airfoil is an airfoil designed, primarily, to delay the onset of wave drag in the transonic speed range. Supercritical airfoils are characterized by their flattened upper surface, highly cambered aft section, and greater leading edge radius compared with traditional airfoil shapes...

    , and winglets
  • Robert Stempel
    Robert Stempel
    Robert Carl Stempel was a former Chairman and CEO of General Motors . He joined GM in 1958 as a design engineer at Oldsmobile and was key in the development of the front-wheel drive Toronado...

    , inventor of the catalytic converter
    Catalytic converter
    A catalytic converter is a device used to convert toxic exhaust emissions from an internal combustion engine into non-toxic substances. Inside a catalytic converter, a catalyst stimulates a chemical reaction in which noxious byproducts of combustion are converted to less toxic substances by dint...

     and former Chairman and CEO of General Motors
  • Dean Kamen
    Dean Kamen
    Dean L. Kamen is an American entrepreneur and inventor from New Hampshire.Born in Rockville Centre, New York, he attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but dropped out before graduating after five years of private advanced research for drug infusion pump AutoSyringe...

    , who left the school without finishing his degree, invented the first portable insulin pump
    Insulin pump
    The insulin pump is a medical device used for the administration of insulin in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, also known as continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion therapy.The device includes:...

     and started the company that invented the Segway Human Transporter
  • John P. Casey, President of General Dynamics Electric Boat
  • Antonio M. Celia, CEO of Colombia's Promigas
  • Kotaro Shimomura
    Kotaro Shimomura
    was a Japanese chemical engineer known for many famous inventions.- Early life and education :When about 12 years of age, he attended the Kumamoto Yogakko where American soldier Capt. L. L. James was engaged. In 1876, he was studying theology in Doshisha. He went to America in 1885 when 25 years of...

    , chemical engineer. After graduating, he became president of Doshisha University
    Doshisha University
    , or is a prestigious private university in Kyoto, Japan. The university has approximately 27,000 students on three campuses, in faculties of theology, letters, law, commerce, economics, policy, and engineering...

     and Osaka Gas
    Osaka Gas
    , commonly written as 大阪ガス, is a Japanese gas company based in Osaka, Japan. It supplies gas to the Kansai region, especially Keihanshin area.-Overview:*Senboku Power Fuel Company Limited*Osaka Gas Energy America-External links:...

     Co., Ltd in Japan.
  • Paul Allaire, previous CEO of Xerox
    Xerox Corporation is an American multinational document management corporation that produced and sells a range of color and black-and-white printers, multifunction systems, photo copiers, digital production printing presses, and related consulting services and supplies...

  • David Gewirtz
    David Gewirtz
    David Allen Gewirtz is an American journalist, author, and U.S. policy advisor who has written more than 900 articles about technology, competitiveness, and national security policy...

    , CNN columnist, cyberterrorism advisor, and leading presidential scholar. He was also a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.
  • Burton Marsh, member of the Class of 1920 is credited with being America's first traffic engineer. The Institute of Transportation Engineers highest award is the Burton W. Marsh Award.
  • Nancy Pimental
    Nancy Pimental
    Nancy Marie Pimental is an American actress and screenwriter.-Biography:Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Pimental attended Somerset High School, graduating in 1983 and she graduated from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she was a member of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority with a degree in...

    , who earned a Chemical Engineering
    Chemical engineering
    Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with physical science , and life sciences with mathematics and economics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms...

     degree, is one of the writers of South Park
    South Park
    South Park is an American animated television series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central television network. Intended for mature audiences, the show has become famous for its crude language, surreal, satirical, and dark humor that lampoons a wide range of topics...

    and the movie The Sweetest Thing
    The Sweetest Thing
    The Sweetest Thing is a 2002 American film farce directed by Roger Kumble and written by Nancy Pimental, who based the characters on herself and friend Kate Walsh...

    . She also replaced Jimmy Kimmel
    Jimmy Kimmel
    James Christian "Jimmy" Kimmel is an American television host and comedian. He is the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, a late-night talk show that airs on ABC. Prior to that, Kimmel was best known as the co-host of Comedy Central's The Man Show and Win Ben Stein's Money...

     as co-host of Win Ben Stein's Money
    Win Ben Stein's Money
    Win Ben Stein's Money is an American television game show that ran from July 28, 1997 to January 31, 2003 on the Comedy Central cable network with episodes airing until May 8, 2003. It featured three contestants who competed in a general knowledge quiz contest to win the grand prize of $5,000 from...

    . She is an alumna of Phi Sigma Sigma
    Phi Sigma Sigma
    Phi Sigma Sigma , colloquially known as "Phi Sig," was the first collegiate nonsectarian fraternity, welcoming women of all faiths and backgrounds...

  • Henry Davis, the first chairman of NBC
    The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

    , graduated in 1880
  • William Hobbs, noted 19th century geologist
  • Elwood Haynes
    Elwood Haynes
    Elwood P. Haynes was an American inventor, metallurgist, automotive pioneer, entrepreneur and industrialist. He invented the metal alloys stellite and martensitic stainless steel and designed one of the earliest automobiles made in the United States...

    , an early alumnus, prominent chemist and inventor and credited for aiding in the development of the automobile and the creation of stainless steel.
  • Dan Itse
    Dan Itse
    Daniel C. Itse, known as Dan Itse , is a conservative Republican member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. A native of San Francisco, California, Itse is a professional engineer who resides in Fremont, New Hampshire...

    , engineer, inventor, member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
    New Hampshire House of Representatives
    The New Hampshire House of Representatives is the lower house in the New Hampshire General Court. The House of Representatives consists of 400 members coming from 103 districts across the state, created from divisions of the state's counties. On average, each legislator represents about 3,300...

  • W. Todd Akin, United States Representative from Missouri
    Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

     (2001- )
  • Curtis Carlson
    Curtis Carlson
    Curtis Raymond Carlson is currently the president and CEO of SRI International and a prominent technologist.Initially a physics graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and PhD student at in geophysical fluid dynamics from Rutgers University, he joined Sarnoff Corporation after graduation and...

    , famous researcher into imaging systems and current president and CEO of SRI International
    SRI International
    SRI International , founded as Stanford Research Institute, is one of the world's largest contract research institutes. Based in Menlo Park, California, the trustees of Stanford University established it in 1946 as a center of innovation to support economic development in the region. It was later...

  • Anup K. Ghosh
    Anup K. Ghosh
    Dr. Anup K. Ghosh has served as a Senior Scientist and Program Manager in the Advanced Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency where he creates and manages programs in information assurance and information operations. Dr...

    , electrical engineer and computer scientist who was awarded the National Security Agency
    National Security Agency
    The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S...

    's Frank Byron Rowlett Award
    Frank Byron Rowlett Award
    The Frank Byron Rowlett Award is an award given by the National Security Agency to recognize outstanding organizational and individual excellence in the field of information systems security...

     in 2005.
  • Michael J. Dolan, current vice president of ExxonMobil Corporation and president of the ExxonMobil Chemical Company.
  • John Woodman Higgins
    John Woodman Higgins
    John Woodman Higgins was an American businessman and owner of the Higgins Armory Museum.-Early & Personal Life:...

    , founder of Worcester Pressed Steel Company and of the Higgins Armory Museum
    Higgins Armory Museum
    Higgins Armory Museum, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, housed in a steel Art Deco Building, is one of the few museums in the Western Hemisphere devoted to arms and armour. The museum is a public, non-profit museum specializing in the history of arms and armor...

  • Naveen Selvadurai
    Naveen Selvadurai
    Naveen Selvadurai is an internet entrepreneur and co-founder of location-based social networking site Foursquare.com. He was born in Tamil Nadu, India.-Career:...

    , co-founder of Foursquare
  • Atwater Kent, who dropped out twice in the 1890s, went on to found the Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company which was the world's leading producer of radios in the late 1920s (there is now a building on campus called the Atwater Kent Laboratories).
  • John W. Geils Jr
    J. Geils
    John Geils popularly known as J. Geils, is an American blues-rock lead guitarist, singer and founder of The J. Geils Band; he has also recorded with several jazz musicians. Born in New York, he grew up in Far Hills, New Jersey where he graduated from Bernards High School.Since 1982, Geils has...

    ., who founded The J. Geils Band and played lead guitar, attended for a few semesters in 1965-1968.
  • Daniel Robbins
    Daniel Robbins
    Daniel Robbins is a computer programmer and consultant best known as the founder and former chief architect of the Gentoo Linux project. In 2008, he launched the Funtoo project, a free GNU/Linux distribution based on Gentoo, and is the project's lead hacker and organizer...

    , founder and former chief architect of the Gentoo Linux
    Gentoo Linux
    Gentoo Linux is a computer operating system built on top of the Linux kernel and based on the Portage package management system. It is distributed as free and open source software. Unlike a conventional software distribution, the user compiles the source code locally according to their chosen...

  • Andy Ross
    Andy Ross
    Andy Ross , is an American musician most famous as guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist for the rock band OK Go since 2005. He is also behind a solo project, Secret Dakota Ring, which released albums in 2004 and 2008...

     guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist for the rock band OK Go
    OK Go
    OK Go is a rock band originally from Chicago, Illinois, USA, now residing in Los Angeles, California, USA. The band is composed of Damian Kulash , Tim Nordwind , Dan Konopka and Andy Ross , who joined them in 2005, replacing Andy Duncan...

     since 2005 spent a year at WPI as part of the Mass Academy program.
  • William Stevens Lawton
    William Stevens Lawton
    William Stevens Lawton was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army and served as the Army's Comptroller.-Early life:...

    , United States Army
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

     Lieutenant General
    Lieutenant General (United States)
    In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

    , who attended from 1917 to 1918 and then transferred to the United States Military Academy
    United States Military Academy
    The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

    . Lawton served in World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     and the Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

     and was the Army's
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...


For more information on notable alumni, please see the WPI Library's Online Exhibition of Distinguished Alumni or the WPI International Corporate Leaders Roundtable.

Notable Faculty

WPI has employed several professors whose achievements have made them notable across the nation and the world.
  • In 1995, Biology professor David Adams
    David S. Adams
    David S. Adams is a Professor of Biology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.- Alzheimer's Disease research:In 1995, he was the first person to successfully replicate Alzheimer's Disease in a mouse. His work in the field suggests that it was an over-abundance of protein production that causes the...

     was the first to create a mouse who suffered from Alzheimers.
  • Former History of Science and Technology professor Michael Sokal
    Michael Sokal
    Michael Sokal is a retired professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the history of science. He is the current president of the History of Science Society.-References:...

     is currently serving as the President of the History of Science Society
    History of Science Society
    The History of Science Society is the primary professional society for the academic study of the history of science.It was founded in 1924 by George Sarton and Lawrence Joseph Henderson, primarily to support the publication of Isis, a journal of the history of science Sarton had started in 1912....

  • Kaveh Pahlavan
    Kaveh Pahlavan
    Kaveh Pahlavan , is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, a Professor of Computer Science, and Director of the Center for Wireless Information Network Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts....

    , professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Center for Wireless Information Network Studies
    Center for Wireless Information Network Studies
    Established in 1985, The Center for Wireless Information Network Studies , Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, is a compact wireless research laboratory with a successful history of research alliances with other industrial and academic groups...

     (CWINS) who, during the 1990s, helped develop the 802.11 wireless protocols.
  • Umberto Mosco, professor of mathematical sciences and eponym of Mosco convergence
    Mosco convergence
    In mathematical analysis, Mosco convergence, named for the Italian mathematician Umberto Mosco, is a notion of convergence for functionals that is used in nonlinear analysis and set-valued analysis. It is a particular case of Γ-convergence...

  • George Phillies, physics professor and 2008 Libertarian
    Libertarian Party (United States)
    The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

     presidential candidate.
  • Current Professor of Practice, James Lyneis, serves as the President of the System Dynamics Society
    System Dynamics Society
    The System Dynamics Society is a not-for-profit organization based in Albany, New York, USA, whose mission is to further research into system dynamics and systems thinking.- Economics Chapter :...

    . He is the third WPI faculty member to serve in this post, the other two being Michael J. Radzicki (SDS President 2006), and Khalid Saeed (SDS President 1995).
  • Jonathan Barnett, professor in Fire Protection Engineering, was selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers and FEMA to investigate the collapse of the World Trade Center
    World Trade Center
    The original World Trade Center was a complex with seven buildings featuring landmark twin towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The complex opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. The site is currently being rebuilt with five new...

     after the attacks of September 11, 2001. He has been interviewed in documentaries on BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

    , NOVA
    NOVA (TV series)
    Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

     and The Learning Channel about the collapse of the towers.
  • Brian Moriarty
    Brian Moriarty
    Brian Moriarty is an American video game developer who authored three of the original Infocom interactive fiction titles, Wishbringer , Trinity and Beyond Zork: The Coconut of Quendor ....

    , professor of Interactive Media and Game Development.

External links