Janelle Boucher of Coventry, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), recently completed an intensive, hands-on research project in Venice. The project was titled "Bells & Belltowers".
At WPI, all undergraduates are required to complete a research-driven, professional-level project that addresses an important societal need or issue. About two-thirds of students complete a project at one of the university's 35 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 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 approach to 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 Richard Vaz, 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 and the foods they eat-all valuable perspectives for surviving and thriving in today's global marketplace. They learn the meaning and magic of teamwork; make a real and meaningful difference in their host community; and gain a competitive edge for any résumé, or graduate or professional school application. They also learn to become resourceful problem solvers and effective team members in professional settings. It gives our students a competitive edge when they graduate – they already know how to function as professionals."