Abigail King of Benton, a member of the class of 2018 majoring in civil engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Worcester, Massachusetts, was a member of a student team that recently completed an intense, hands-on research project in Ecuador. The project was titled Assessing Sustainable Bio-construction Alternatives. In their project outline, the students wrote, “Our goal was to cooperate with the Azuay Prefecture, San Rafael administration, and community members to contribute to sustainable bio-construction designs that are locally appropriate to the parish of San Rafael. We incorporated a human-centered design approach to this project to ensure desirability, feasibility, and viability of our materials assessment.”
At WPI, all undergraduates are required to complete a research-driven, professional-level project that applies science and technology to addresses an important societal need or issue. About two-thirds of students complete a project at one of the university’s more than 40 off-campus project centers, which are located around the world. A signature element of the innovative undergraduate experience at WPI, the project-based curriculum offers students the opportunity to apply their scientific and technical knowledge to develop thoughtful solutions to real problems that affect the quality of people’s lives-and make a difference before they graduate.
“The WPI project-based curriculum’s focus on global studies brings students out of the classroom and their comfort zones and into the global community to apply their knowledge to solve real problems,” said Professor Kent Rissmiller, interim dean of the WPI Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. “Students are immersed in all aspects of a different culture, from the way people live and work to the values they hold to the foods they eat-all valuable perspectives for surviving and thriving in today’s global marketplace. They also learn the meaning and magic of teamwork; make a real and meaningful difference in their host community; and gain a competitive edge for any resume, or graduate or professional school application.”
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