Worcester Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1865 by two industrialists, John Boynton and Ichabod Washburn. The school began as the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science and the two head founders implemented the philosophy “theory and practice.” Boynton and Washburn both died shortly after the founding and Charles O. Thompson took up leadership of the University. The school offered defense engineering courses during WWII and became one of the colleges to lead the V-12 Navy College Training Program. In the 1960s, WPI’s president Harry Storke spearheaded a plan to redesign the curriculum and revamp the physical campus. Then in 1968, WPI began to allow women into the university.
WPI is situated on Boynton Hill, or “the Hill,” located a mile from downtown Worcester. The campus consists of 33 buildings on 80 acres, with the oldest dating back to 1868. The academic buildings are all very close so getting between classes is quick. Near the center of campus are two of the most frequented buildings, the Gordon Library and the Campus Center. The Campus Center holds dining facilities, study and meeting rooms, student offices, the bookstore, and a game room, and is a preferred on-campus hangout for students.
WPI is located in Worcester, MA, the third largest city in New England. Worcester hosts 11 colleges and universities, so WPI students don’t have to hunt long to find a collegiate crowd or things to do off campus. Many of the schools take part in the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, an association that allows students to cross register and share facilities so students across the city build a community beyond their own college. Students say the locals are welcoming to the college crowd, but because there are so many schools in town, townies don’t feel loyalty to a certain university like in other college towns. Boston is a short train ride away, so anyone looking for more action or a change of scenery can make the trek for a night or weekend on the town.
Greek Week happens right before Homecoming. Houses compete in various games like a water balloon toss and a talent show and then create floats to display in the Homecoming parade.
Latin Dance Party is held every year during New Student Orientation to welcome freshmen.
Winter Carnival is a week of events concluding with a blow-out concert.
Quadfest takes place during the final week of the school year and features movies, music, and events for students.
Patrick Delahanty (1995) founded one of the largest anime conventions in the country, Anime Boston.
Robert Goddard (1908) is known as the Father of Modern Rocketry.
Nancy Pimental (1987) is a writer for South Park and also wrote for the film The Sweetest Thing.
Robert Stempel (1955) is the former Chairman and CEO of General Motors and was also involved in the invention of the catalytic converter.
WPI participates in D-III athletics and has varsity teams in baseball, basketball, crew, cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling. For those not wanting the commitment of a varsity sport, WPI offers almost 20 different club sports as well as intramural sports that over half the student body participate in.
WPI’s curriculum is project-based, so students are required to complete projects in Sufficiency in the Liberal Arts or Technical Sufficiency, an Interactive Qualifying Project, and a Major Qualifying Project.
WPI’s mascot is the goat.
WPI’s nickname is the “Engineers.”
WPI has a variety of undergraduate housing options. From classic residence halls with single, double, and triple rooms and campus apartments with multi-person suites to off-campus houses that provide a homier alternative to traditional dorms. The housing options vary in size with the largest holding over 200 students and the smallest accommodating only nine residents. Students can also choose between co-ed and single sex options.