The Boston Project Center (BPC) is one of over 30 Worcester Polytechnic Institute project centers around the world. The WPI Global Projects Program facilitates the operation of these project centers.

The BPC integrates undergraduate engineering and science education with community needs.  To address these needs, the Center promotes thinking across disciplinary fields and approaches that consider technical, social, cultural, institutional, and environmental dimensions.

BPC projects are developed around three main themes:

  1. sustainability and climate change,
  2. environmental issues, and
  3. public health and safety.

The scope or focus of the projects are developed in collaboration with sponsors that have identified challenges in these areas and need assistance to address these challenges.  Past sponsors have included the City of Boston, Boston Harbor Association, MA Department of Public Utilities, MA Department of Energy Resources, and the New England Aquarium.

For the BPC projects, students work full-time in teams of 3-4 during an 8 week period each fall (from late August to mid-October). While working on their projects, students regularly commute to the sponsor’s workplace in the Boston area. At the end of the 8 week project, students complete an extensive project report, provide the sponsor with any additional deliverables as requested, present their results at the sponsor’s office and also at a reception held in the Boston area (typically at the Boston Public Library).

Prior to starting projects in the fall, students complete a 7-week preparation course (during the prior spring) where they develop a project proposal in collaboration with their project sponsor. The project proposal provides an opportunity for the students to develop both an understanding of the project context and a plan for completing the project.  It also helps to ensure that the project will meet the needs of the sponsor.

These projects are completed as part of WPI students’ undergraduate degree requirements. Students work in multidisciplinary teams on topics that are typically outside of their major to address problems related to technology, society, and human needs.  This approach helps students learn how their careers in technology will impact, and will be affected by, societal structures and values. Guided by the sponsor and faculty advisors, the students are asked to develop specific goals, conduct research, gather relevant information, and provide a useful result to the project sponsor.