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How does our organization  host a project and partner with the MPC?

If you are interested in hosting a project with the MPC, please contact either of the Melbourne Project Center Co-Directors or the MPC’s Local Coordinator, listed on the Contact Us page.

When will the students arrive?

The students arrive about 4 days before the project term begins and spend a few days settling in and getting over jet lag before starting project work full time. The day after they arrive, we typically ask students to find their partnering organization and to travel there by public transportation as a way to orient themselves to the city. They may stop in to introduce themselves that day, but they wont begin work until several days later, after their housing orientation and a group tour. Full time project work begins around the middle of October for students arriving in the B term, middle of January for C term, and around the middle of March for D term.

What kind of deliverables should we expect?

The students prepare a final report that includes background research, a description of their project methods, and their findings and recommendations. In addition, teams often produce a range of other deliverables, including databases, plans, designs, websites, apps, videos, instruction manuals and curricula, built structures, and events. The final deliverables grow out of the students’ research and are determined in collaboration with your organization.

Will the project be complete by the end of the term (7 weeks)?

Yes. The projects are completed and submitted to project partners and WPI project advisors at the end of the 7-week project term. The reports and supplemental materials are automatically published to WPI’s electronic projects collection after they are submitted to the partnering organization for review.  In some cases, we may plan for a series of related projects that build on one another, completed in phases over multiple terms. For example, after phase one of a project is complete, a second team might return to the organization the next term or next year to extend the work in some way. But each team at each phase will always submit a report and deliverables at the end of their term in Melbourne.

What are the academic backgrounds of the students?

As a technical university, almost all WPI students study in science and engineering fields. Students on a project team can come from any major, and mixing students from different disciplines allows us to promote inter-disciplinarity and ‘learning how to learn’ about new fields of practice.

Can we ask the students to do other tasks?

In addition to their research tasks and work on proposed deliverables, we value students interacting with professionals at the partnering organization and with other stakeholders, and we encourage students to take time to connect and engage. Sometimes this involves helping with peripheral tasks that arise at the partnering organization, but we ask that this be kept to a minimum as “project creep” will impede students’ ability to focus on their primary objectives.

What kind of project should we provide?

The best project topics are ones that allow students to contribute to a meaningful issue with social significance, and that have a technical component. The goal of this “Interactive Qualifying Project” (which is part of their university degree requirement)  is to have students confront, through the project experience, the relationships between society and technology. Thus, we expect the project scope to allow for significant interaction – with experts, with community members, and with the members of their team – rather than assigning students to isolated technical tasks.

What is the ownership of the results of the project?

The project final report is published to WPI’s electronic projects collection. The report and all other deliverables are provided to the partner organization at the end of the project term, and we expect that any deliverables (written work, presentations, images and videos, plans, etc.) can be used by both WPI and the partner organization in any way they see fit. The liaison at the partnering organization is asked to approve the report for publication before the end of the project term. In some cases, we have been asked to redact sensitive or confidential information from some reports, but this is rare.

What else do students do while in Melbourne?

The students love exploring Melbourne and other popular destinations in Australia. They typically take weekend trips to the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, Cairnes, Sydney, and Tasmania. If the partner organization needs students to work on part of a weekend for a special event, the students typically get equivalent release time during the week so that they can have time for these non-work activities.