For Students and Families

The Costa Rica Project Center brings students and faculty from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) together with partners from non-profit organizations and government agencies to collaborate on projects primarily focused on the environment and community building. For the last 20 years, students have been based in the capitol city of San Jose but they also engage with partners in surrounding and more distance towns. 2018 brought the start of a new project center based in Monteverde.

Costa Rica, with its diverse landscapes and ecosystems, offers fantastic opportunities for students to engage in a variety of projects that bring them in contact with local people including fishermen, farmers, ecologists, and fire fighters. Projects are intended to bring interdisciplinary students, mainly concentrating in engineering and science, together to tackle issues that focus on the human components of technology and planning. This is part of the WPI plan. This project center is particularly appealing for those students hoping to further their Spanish language skills or enhance a resume that highlights Spanish language skills or an academic minor. However, students are not required to speak Spanish to be eligible to apply.

Costa Rica also offers incredible opportunity for travel in the rain forest and on the beach, known for its adventure tourism and ecotourism including cloud forest canopy tours, zip lining, hiking, surfing, and waterfalls. And the warm Costa Rican people always make travel very rewarding.

The Costa Rica projects run roughly mid January to mid March (C term).

In January 2018 we began a new, additional Project Center in Monteverde Cloud Forest. Students will now have the opportunity to work alongside an international group of scientists working in the cloud forest region.  The Monteverde term runs during C term, the same time frame as San Jose. Students must apply for each center separately. Projects from the 2018 term are linked in the projects tab.

For Sponsors

WPI has been working in Costa Rica with student groups and local sponsors for about 20 years. Our local coordinators in San Jose and Monteverde introduce new sponsors to the program and help arrange projects for each year. The students do not conduct prescribed office work such as an internship might require. The WPI teams work on real questions proposed by the sponsor and produce solutions that can be, and often times are, implemented by the organizations. The work provided by the students is a valuable contribution that is specifically requested by the sponsor.

The students arrive in Costa Rica in the middle of January to mid March. Prior to arrival the students undertake a course that prepares them for the real-world experience of working with and researching for a local organization. The research the field related to the project they will be working on. They work mostly independently, while collaborating with the sponsor. Many of the students speak Spanish, but not all. The student teams (usually consisting of four members) will work full time (40 hours per week) with the guidance of the sponsor and two faculty advisors from WPI who have been working with the teams prior to arrival. The faculty advisors meet almost weekly with the sponsor and the student team. They coach the teams through data collection, interviewing, analysis, findings, and conclusions.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our past project sponsors for their commitment to making the WPI Costa Rica Project Center a success.

Please do not hesitate to contact the coordinators or Melissa Belz if you would like more information on sponsoring a student team.


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Want to learn more?

If you are an agency or organization in Costa Rica that could benefit from a creative, problem-solving team of students dedicated to community impact, please contact us to learn more.

Or, if you are a WPI student interested in participating in the Project Center, please let us know.

Contact: Melissa Belz | Center Director
Email: mbelz@wpi.edu