At the heart of the WPI Plan is student research, open-ended inquiry, and original and creative design to solve problems and to make new discoveries. All students in all majors complete two qualifying projects:
- The Major Qualifying Project (MQP),
- The Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP).
The Major Qualifying Project requires the synthesis of all previous study as well as the development of new knowledge to solve problems in the student’s major field. The MQP challenges the student to perform at an advanced level, as a professional would, and to communicate the results effectively.
The Interactive Qualifying Project challenges students to address a problem at the intersection of science and technology with human need.
These projects are substantial and are each equivalent to at least one-fourth of an academic year’s worth of effort. Most IQPs are completed at an off-campus project center in collaboration with an external sponsor.
Projects must be accepted by a project advisor before project registration can be completed. Many project opportunities come from off-campus organizations, address real-world problems and thus provide experience invaluable for seeking jobs and for professional practice. Students are also encouraged to develop their own project ideas, to identify and work with interested faculty, and to form teams to pool resources and share points of view.
Resources - Getting Started
There are many opportunities for students to learn about project opportunities both in the major (for the MQP) and for the IQP. Advice and links to additional resources can be found on the Undergraduate Studies web page.
Students may obtain information about new or ongoing projects from a variety of sources. Principal sources include discussions with other students, especially those currently involved in a project, the Projects Program web site, department offices, or their web pages. Off-campus projects are discussed annually in the fall. In the spring, Project Opportunities in eProjects can be used as a directory of specific IQP projects or as a source of ideas for developing your own projects. Some students will find a project listed which fits their needs and interests exactly. In other cases, the listing will serve to lead students to a faculty member with whom project involvement can be negotiated. The proposals in eProjects are updated periodically to provide an accurate listing of available projects.
Students are encouraged to check the web site of the department of their major and Project Opportunities for MQPs in eProjects (https://eprojects.wpi.edu/), as well as consulting with their academic advisors and with faculty in their courses. In addition, academic departments hold special events where faculty present project and other research opportunities to connect with students who are currently doing research.
Academic advisors can assist students in identifying a project. They are aware of the project interests of many other faculty members, and have a list of faculty interests which will enable a student to find a faculty member who can help to develop a project idea. Faculty associated with the Department of Integrative & Global Studies (DIGS) are available to assist students in interdisciplinary and interactive projects.
Project Performance and Time-on-Task
A student is normally expected to expend 15-17 hours per week on the average for each 1/3 unit of credit for project work, and expected achievement is based upon that commitment.
A project group, whether it involves one student or more, should have a minimum of one scheduled conference per week with the advisor(s). Additional time should be scheduled when the effort exceeds 1/3 unit per student or when more students are involved.
Students should be prepared to submit interim project reports to the advisor each week. Students are also encouraged to complete a proposal at the beginning of the project activity to define the scope and timeline for completion of the effort. In addition, oral reports may be required as determined by the advisor. At the end of the project, a report must be prepared to the satisfaction of the project advisor. For projects sponsored by off-campus organizations, both a written and oral report for the sponsors is normally expected.
Qualifying Project Grading
The Faculty of WPI has endorsed the following grading guidelines for qualifying project activity:
- Each term a student is registered for a qualifying project, the student receives a term grade reflecting assessment of his or her accomplishments for that term.
- Upon completion of a project, each student will receive an overall project grade (also known as the “CDR grade,” since it certifies completion of the degree requirement) reflecting his or her individual overall accomplishments for the project.
- The term grades and the overall project grade reflect both the products of the project (e.g., results, reports, etc.) and also the process by which they were attained. The term grades and the overall project grade may be different.
The following are some characteristics that faculty should use in communicating expectations and evaluating the quality of each student’s project work.
The degree to which the student:
- developed effective or creative goals or approaches,
- demonstrated initiative and originality,
- showed depth and critical thought in analysis,
- produced high quality results,
- took the lead in discussion, planning, and analysis,
- produced a clear, professional-level report with excellent drafts along the way,
- anticipated work that needed to be done and completed it in a timely manner, and
- worked to advance the success of the team.
For both terms and overall project, the available grades and interpretations are:
A: This grade denotes excellent work that attains all of the project goals and learning outcomes. The product and process of this work meet all of the expectations and exceed them in several areas.
B: This grade denotes consistently good work that attains the project goals and learning outcomes. The product and process of this work meet but generally do not exceed all of the expectations.
C: This grade denotes acceptable work that partially attains project goals and learning outcomes. The product and process of this work meet some but not all expectations.
SP: This grade denotes satisfactory progress and certifies sufficient accomplishments to earn credit for that term. Faculty who assign this grade should provide clear feedback to the student regarding his or her progress during the term. The use of the SP grade is discouraged except in circumstances where the faculty member is unable to judge the quality of the work, yet can attest that the granting of credit is appropriate. This is a temporary grade and must be replaced by a permanent grade consistent with the criteria outlined above by, if not before, the end of the project.
NR: This grade denotes work that did not attain the project goals or learning outcomes and is insufficient for registered credit. Both product and process were inconsistent with acceptable project work at WPI as outlined above.
NAC: This grade is reserved for performance that is unacceptable. It might mean that a student’s performance (or lack of it) has seriously impeded group progress, or it has embarrassed the group, a project sponsor, or WPI. Note that this grade remains on the transcript.
4. Project goals should be established and clearly articulated early in the project. This may be done in the form of a formal project proposal. Learning outcomes for the qualifying projects have been established by the faculty and are published in the undergraduate catalog.
5. Project advisors should clearly convey in writing their expectations for learning and performance to project students at the start of the project, and provide students with substantive feedback on a regular basis during the project.
Electronic Project Submission
WPI requires that all undergraduate students submit their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) and Major Qualifying Project (MQP) electronically (https://eprojects.wpi.edu/).
Students must be registered for a minimum of 1/6 unit of qualifying project credit in the term in which the final project report is submitted.
No matter which format is used to create the original report document (Microsoft Word, LaTeX or other), the final report must be converted to a PDF format in order to be submitted as an eProject. The final PDF is required, and additional related files such as simulations, computer programs, multimedia, and data sets may be submitted as a component of the project. Guidance on eProject report formatting and file formats for the final report and any supplementary files is provided within the online submission process, and detailed instructions are available from an online guide at the Gordon Library: https://libguides.wpi.edu/submitprojects.
The final project report should be carefully proofread. Once the submitted project has been approved by the advisor and released to WPI’s digital repository (Digital WPI) by the Registrar’s Office, it is considered an academic record and cannot be edited.
The deadline for the submission of the initial report draft and the final document may be established at the discretion of the project advisor. Drafts and reports need not be accepted by the advisor after the established deadline.
A project that is completed by a team of students, except in extenuating circumstances, will submit ONE project report from the group. After the MQP or IQP team submits the final version of the project report, the advisor must review the work and approve or reject it online at https://eprojects.wpi.edu/.
Group Qualifying Project Efforts
Students meeting a qualifying project degree requirement by participation in a group, or team effort, will submit, at the discretion of the project advisor, either a single, comprehensive written report from the group, or individual written reports from each member of the group. A single, comprehensive written report must, however, include some means by which each individual’s contribution to the group effort may be clearly identified. This identification may take the form of an “authorship page,” simply a list of individual chapters and their respective authors, or of a prefacing statement in which each contributing group member is named as having carried out one or more specific tasks within the overall project effort.
In the case where one or more students leave an ongoing group project after having contributed at least one unit each of project effort, those students, again at the discretion of the project advisor, will submit either a single written report or individual written reports in satisfying the qualifying project documentation requirement. The same means of identifying individual contributions will be employed as described above.
Dissemination of Project Reports
MQPs and IQPs completed for off-campus agencies are usually distributed within the sponsoring agency by the agency project liaison. A project report may be redacted or restricted from public viewing for a defined period of time, if it contains confidential or proprietary information of a sponsoring agency.
Students are responsible for keeping personal copies of project reports for their own permanent professional records. In this way, reports can be reviewed for later use, and incorporated into a professional portfolio.
Thus, MQPs and IQPs are best viewed as research reports which establish good professional practices as well as being potential sources for further study and research.
Pay & Credit (for students working on sponsored projects)