Phillip Abell of Cazenovia, a member of the class of 2021 majoring in robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was a member of a student team that recently completed an intense research project titled Guiding Street Tree Planting to Mitigate Extreme Heat in Worcester.
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. Nearly 90% of students typically complete a project in collaboration with partners in communities across the country and around the world, through the university’s 50-plus project centers. Students usually travel to the project center for seven-week terms; this spring, however, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, they worked remotely, using video conferencing and other technology to complete their projects. 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 their comfort zones to apply their knowledge to solve real problems for people in communities around the globe,” said Professor Kent Rissmiller, interim dean of the WPI Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. “Students have the opportunity to learn about 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; and gain a competitive edge for any resume, or graduate or professional school application.