Postprint version. Published in Educating the Engineer for the 21st Century: Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Global Engineering Education: Aachen, Germany, October 1, 2000, pages 307-313.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author William Durgin was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The WPI project based curriculum, which emphasizes discovery based learning are an alternative to the traditional information transfer process, has proved successful in delivering global engineering education. More than 25% of the learning process of the students is integrated into two formal projects, the Major Qualifying Project (MQP) which is designed as a capstone for professional technical competence and the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) which relates science and technology to societal concerns and student needs. Both the MQP and IQP may be completed on- or off-campus. Currently, over 50% of the graduating class will have completed one of the projects at an overseas location under WPl's Global Perspectives Program. Each year, more than twenty faculty members will be advising and sharing a learning experience with the students at international locations spanning six continents.
Living and working in an unfamiliar culture while pursuing real world problems of importance to local agencies or organizations provides a unique and stimulating learning environment. Students are fully immersed in the local culture and conduct their studies under the guidance of WPI faculty members. Traditionally, global projects have emphasized the inter-relationship of technology and society through the IQP. More recently, technical projects and research have been added through the MQP and graduate research efforts. The result of the student projects which arc generally carried out by small teams, 3-5 students per team is typical, includes oral presentations and a tinal written report which is presented to a sponsoring agency as well as filed for future use at the WPI library.
This paper describes the WPI global program and is based on the experiences of the authors in advising project activities. It emphasizes the preparation of the WPI students for global projects, the infrastructure needed to support such activities, and the outcomes in terms of global aspects of some graduates' careers.