School:Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- 1 Overview
- 2 Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- 3 Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- 4 Actively supporting the University Technology Transfer function
- 5 Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration
- 6 Engaging with Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts
- 7 Related Links
WPI is a campus fostered around project based learning, and applying these learned skills in the real world. Although the school is based on applying skills to solve problems, there has not been widespread awareness about activities that are available on campus outside of the classroom. The programs and activities listed below outline some of the resources that students have both in and out of the classroom to make the most of their learning experience. Currently, a significant project promoting entrepreneurship is the Foisie Innovation Studio, under construction with the intent to complete by fall 2018.
Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Clubs & Organizations
The CEI aids members of the WPI community in creating new products, companies, services and technologies by providing specifically targeted services, mentors, and other resources. “The CEI was recognized in 2005 by Entrepreneur Magazine's TechknowledgePoint survey of entrepreneurial schools as a Top Ten entrepreneurship program among the nation's schools with an Entrepreneurship Emphasis.”
The Kern Family awarded WPI with $488,500 to facilitate the development of new programs aimed at enhancing the impact of WPI’s project-based approach to undergraduate education. The aim of the award is to help WPI “realize a strategic goal of infusing the undergraduate program with an entrepreneurial mindset," according to WPI president Laurie Leshin.
The Great Problem Seminar (GPS) is an introductory course to university-level research and project work, focusing on themes of current global importance. They help first-year students develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in project work at WPI and in their future careers.
The Interactive Qualifying Project is not organized as a course, nor is it related to the major. Instead, small teams of students work under the guidance of faculty members from all disciplines to conduct research, using social science methods, directed at a specific problem or need. Students deliver findings and recommendations through formal reports and oral presentations to project sponsors (often nonprofit, municipal, or government agencies) and faculty advisors. Sourced from WPI
The IQP allows students from different backgrounds to overcome challenges together. They are given a situation, many times in a foreign country, and together they must develop a solution that best fits the needs of the time.
The Major Qualifying Project (MQP) is WPI’s senior-year capstone project where students gain real-world design or research experience within their major field. Students have the guidance and support of faculty advisors and mentors while pursuing their own project. The project, once completed, is then presented for the whole WPI community to see. These projects often have the potential to continue to develop into potential business plans.
The Tech Entrepreneurs is WPI’s undergraduate entrepreneurship club which focuses on innovation and startups. They host a bi-weekly guest entrepreneur speaker series as well as workshops and other events.
WPI LaunchPad is a student-led organization empowering the WPI community to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and launch ideas into projects outside of the WPI curriculum.
WPI Enactus is a social-entrepreneurship student-led organization, accessible to all WPI students who want to develop projects together. It provides the community the resources they need to innovate on and off-campus.
CollabLab is a student-run maker space for students and campus organizations to develop engineering projects such as combat robots, model planes, and formula SAE race cars.
The Studio@Gordon is a space in one of the floors of the library that can be adapted to several different types of student events. It is usually used for workshops and hands-on learning classes.
Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship
1. The WPI KEEN Program
The WPI KEEN Program helps train teachers to use active collaborative learning techniques in their classrooms in order to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in the undergraduate engineering students.
2. Foisie Innovation Studio
The Foisie Innovation Studio is a brand new building on campus, which was completed earlier this year. It combines a new dormitory with several floors of innovation space. It contains a larger makerspace as well as various project spaces.
Independent study projects are projects that faculty can advise and can count for credits for students. These projects can be anything the professor desires, which gives them room to innovate and execute unordinary projects, that can later become courses.
Actively supporting the University Technology Transfer function
1. The Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation (IPI)
a. The Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation (IPI) helps WPI students, faculty and staff take an idea from concept to market. The office helps to identify, evaluate, value and identify a market for intellectual property developed by the community. Additionally, the Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation will cover the cost of patenting the technology for a percentage of royalties, or in the case of a spin out royalties and a small percentage of the company. The IPI will also help negotiate licensing deals, manage royalties and fee distribution.
- The Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation is revising the current intellectual property policy to make it more simple and easy to understand.
- The Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation maintains a portfolio of patents currently available for license and actively tries to find a company to license the available technologies.
2. Tech Advisors Network
Provides advising and networking services in order to support innovators and entrepreneurs. Work closely with IPI office to assist students with patenting and other legal matters in addition to marketing and business-oriented pursuits.
Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration
1. Engineering Ambassadors
“The Engineering Ambassador Program is a leadership development program with an outreach mission that is sponsored by National Grid, UTC, and other companies and run by WPI.” Undergraduate students develop leadership and communication skills through this program and by completing the program students will have a preference for an internship with the companies that sponsored them.
a. MQP (Major Qualifying Project)
This is WPI’s equivalent of the “senior year project”. Many students have the opportunity to work with members of a company or a research institution within their respective major. WPI has a lot of collaboration with both local and international companies to include
b. IQP (Interactive Qualifying Project)
This is a project taken by juniors as a requirement to graduate. This is an interdisciplinary project that combines different areas of research and engineering and almost always sponsored by either a nonprofit organization or a company. This project immerses the student into a dynamic environment that utilizes information and techniques from various fields to solve problems.
c. GPS (Great Problems Seminar)
This is a freshman level class designed to introduce incoming students about the problems in the world that need to be solved. Most of these projects feature getting basic necessities such as water to underprivileged populations and solving environmental issues such as pollution. There are many influential persons in the industry that show up to the poster presentations about the progress that the students have made thus giving students a great networking opportunity with members of the industry.
3. Professional Societies
WPI offers more than 15 professional societies that cater to the diverse majors offered. A more comprehensive list of all of these societies can be found at wpi.orgsync.com/Student_Orgs by clicking on the “Professional Society” filter.
The IEEE Student branch at WPI gives students the opportunity to meet and learn from their peers and professors, especially those in the ECE field. After graduation IEEE GOLD (Graduates Of the Last Decade) aids recent graduates in networking and focusing on their career goals. Additionally, a networking dinner is held annually for ECE & RBE majors to meet with professionals from their field and make connections.
b. BMES Chapter at WPI
“The WPI BMES Chapter is part of a national professional society that was started on February 1, 1968. The purpose of BMES is "To promote and enhance biomedical engineering knowledge worldwide and its utilization for the health and well-being of humankind."
Being in school for BME means you'll someday be in a professional environment as a BME. The goal of our chapter is to get you there by networking, mentoring, teaching and assisting each other, using each other’s strengths as biomedical engineers to build solid foundations for careers as biomedical engineers.”
c. AIChE Chapter at WPI
The WPI Chapter at AIChE focuses on providing networking and learning opportunities to chemical engineering students beyond the classroom. It also connects chemical engineering students from different universities across the United States. AIChE provides information about the latest discoveries and advances in chemical engineering and helps to prepare students for their careers after university.
Engaging with Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts
Technocopia is a non-profit makerspace located in downtown Worcester MA. they provide space, woodworking and soldering tools as well as 3D printers and laser cutters. They provide workshops and training sessions designed to educate the community on how to use different tools and software to help the design, build and test prototypes. They help local entrepreneurs, as well as students, take their ideas from a concept to a 3-d prototype.
It is a medical device manufacturing company. They help bring innovative ideas from conception to fruition by collaborating with other companies. Through this collaboration, they help the ideas from entrepreneurs go from the concept stage to the commercializing the service or product stage.
3. Start up Worcester
This program supports young adults who have an entrepreneurial mindset as well as support new business to start up. The Worcester regional chamber of conference is responsible for collaborating with Running Start to foster the growth of Startup Companies founded by students and graduates from colleges in the Worcester area.
4. Running Start Worcester
Running Start Worcester is a coworking space that gives entrepreneurs, start-ups, and freelancers the opportunity to collaborate and communicate with each other. This place created a comfortable and functional working environment for innovators from all backgrounds to use together.
5. Worcester Clean Tech Incubator
Worcester CleanTech Incubator’s mission is to foster the growth of new enterprises to address the most pressing issues of our time. We believe that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of innovation and the key to society’s transition towards sustainability. WCTI provides both the physical and network resources companies need to propel their ideas to market. Founded and operated by the Institute for Energy and Sustainability, we are a community in the heart of central Massachusetts dedicated to building change. The WCTI facility, located in the Printers Building at 44 Portland Street in Worcester, provides over 10,000 square feet that offers private offices, co-working space, conference rooms, event space, and prototyping labs.
6. Gateway Park 2nd building
Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Gateway Park is a growing center of research, innovation, and commerce designed to help revitalize downtown Worcester. The Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center is a thriving center for graduate research and has state of the art laboratories, core facilities, and an incubator space for biotechnology start-ups. The Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC) helps train the workforce needed for biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.
7. MBI Biotech startups
Massachusetts Business Initiative is a private, independent economic development organization that helps starts biomedical companies and creates jobs within the Biotechnology, Medical Device, Informatics, and Biomanufacturing industry. This is accomplished by providing secure, clean bench and sink surface, staff trained and fully licensed laboratory space for usage by “seed stage” companies.
8. Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network Central Regional Office (Clark University)
The Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network contributes to the entrepreneurial growth of small businesses throughout Massachusetts including an office at nearby Clark University by providing high-quality, in-depth advising, training, and capital access.
The Landscape Canvas
 - Spring
 - Fall
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
University Innovation Fellows Spring 2019:
Fall 2017 Change Project Website:
- University Innovation Fellows Spring 2018: