What is ID 2050?
ID 2050 is a 1/3 unit course required of all students participating in an IQP project center. Students take this class with their project center cohort the term preceding their project (A Term for students going to Melbourne in B Term, and C Term for those going to Melbourne in D Term). The purpose of ID2050 is for students to learn the research skills, engagement strategies and background information they will need to complete their projects. As part of the course, teams complete a project proposal that will be shared with their sponsor. This document helps students better understand and frame the problem they are working on, explore what others have done in this field of practice, and plan what to do upon arrival in Melbourne. The ID 2050 instructor may or may not be one of the project advisors who will travel with students to Melbourne.
What is PQP?
PQP is a 1/6 unit pre-qualifying project experience that helps students, along with WPI faculty advisors, prepare for their onsite work in Melbourne. The MPC includes some preparatory work two terms preceding the project term. For students going to the MPC in B term, some cultural orientation exercises are done online over the summer months. Those traveling in D term will do these exercises in A term and may meet periodically with project center co-directors or faculty advisors. The bulk of the PQP experience occurs simultaneously with ID 2050 during the term immediately preceding the project term in Melbourne. Project teams meet weekly with the project advisors to discuss project progress and explore possible project directions. The meetings are typically facilitated by the student team and allow the team and advisors to establish professional meetings practices that will carry over into the project term. Students prepare agendas for each meeting, lead discussions of their research findings, and sometimes to give PowerPoint presentations to update your advisors on the status of your project. Project advisors may also collaborate with your ID2050 instructor to provide comments on drafts of the project proposal.
When can I go to the MPC?
Students go to the Melbourne Project Center in B Term (October-December) and D Term (March-May) of each academic year.
What is the working schedule for the IQP?
This is dependent upon your sponsor, but typically students will work a normal 40 hour work week (9am-5pm) Monday through Friday at their partnering organization to complete their IQP. This includes weekly meetings with a liaison from the organization and the WPI faculty advisors. Weekends are typically free, but students are not permitted to travel the final weekend of the project term.
How do I get to Melbourne?
Students typically buy their plane ticket prior to or during their preparatory term (ID 2050 and PQP). When booking, keep in mind that it takes two days to travel from the US to Melbourne, given the flight time and the change in time zones. This means that if you are asked to arrive on a Thursday, your flight should leave the US on Tuesday. Depending on the departure city, there are multiple ways to get to Melbourne. A common flight path from the US is BOS → LAX → TUL (Melbourne’s International Airport). From the airport in Melbourne, students can pay to take a taxi, bus, or Uber to their desired location. Students who arrive early to the project center have stayed in St. Kilda, which is close to the beach in Melbourne, or traveled to Sydney (1 hour flight from Melbourne). There are many Airbnbs, hostels, and hotels in Melbourne for those who want to arrive early or stay later than the project dates.
Do I need a VISA to go to Australia?
Yes. Students holding an American passport will need to obtain an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) at this website: https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETAS3/etas. You will need your passport information to fill this form out, and it costs 20 AUD (about $16), which can be paid by card on the site. You do not need to print anything, because you will be registered in the system as having a visa. Students should apply for a tourist visa and NOT a work or student visa. Students who do not hold a US passport should contact the IGSD office about obtaining your visa (either before or immediately at the start of the prep term), as the requirements may vary.
Where will I be living while in Melbourne?
Students attending the MPC live at the Quest Royal Garden apartment complex on the outskirts of the Central Business District, across from the Melbourne Museum. Students stay in groups of four or six in townhouse style apartments, which include a kitchen, living room and dining space, washer/dryer, bathroom, air conditioning, and wifi access.
How do I get around Melbourne?
Public transportation in Melbourne is fantastic. All students will be given a “Myki” card provided by their sponsoring organization, which will grant unlimited access to trams, trains, and buses in zones 1 and 2, which covers much of the greater Melbourne region. Students are not allowed to drive or rent a car during the project term, so if you want to travel beyond this region, book a tour bus or take a train, plane or boat. The schedules and routes of local transportation can be found on the maps app of your phone once you land in Australia, or you can download the “Public Transport Victoria” app.
Where should I travel on the weekends?
There are a multitude of places that are easy to travel to for a weekend trip. Some of these include the Great Ocean Road, the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Tasmania, and more. Also, keep in mind that there is much to do on weekends in Melbourne, so don’t leave every weekend! You can reference the Things to Do page for more information. Students are not permitted to travel on the final weekend of the project term or on the weekend when your advisors book the one group tour you will all do together, so check with them before booking. During the term, students must complete a weekly travel information form so advisors know the plans and whereabouts of students. Students must always carry a phone with a local Australia number, including on weekends. There is usually one four-day weekend during the term in Melbourne (in B term, this is the Melbourne Cup holiday and in D term, Easter weekend) so check the dates and book your longer excursions that weekend.
Will my phone number work in Australia?
No, you will need to obtain a SIM card from an Australian phone provider when you enter the country. Most students use Vodafone or Optus, which can be found at the airport when you land, or almost anywhere in the city of Melbourne. Directions on the new sim card set up are provided, and your phone will work the same, just with an Australian phone number. Depending on your American phone provider you may need to “unlock” your phone before you can put an Australian SIM card in it, so check with your phone provider before you travel. Some students keep two phones–their US phone and a cheaper local phone they purchase on site.
If I have an international phone plan, do I still need to get an Australian number?
Typically yes. Since you will most likely be making calls to other Australian numbers (advisors, sponsors, other students), and they will need to call your phone, get an Australian phone number or burner phone, so your calls are not international. Communicate with your project director if you have questions.
What is the currency in Australia?
Australia uses the AUD (Australian Dollar). You can check the conversion rate between the USD and AUD here.
Will my credit and debit cards work while in Australia?
Typically yes. This depends on your bank, so be sure to notify them before you leave to understand any travel fees they may charge with each transaction. You need to alert them you will be traveling before you leave so they do not decline transactions you make while abroad. You may want to have two cards in case one is lost or stolen–always good to have a back-up and to store them separately.
What is the food like in Australia?
Melbourne has a lot of restaurants and cafes with a variety of cuisine, from Vietnamese to Indian to plain old burger joints; there is something here for everyone. There are many grocery stores in the city; the smaller ones tend to be more expensive. There are many outdoor food markets where you can buy fresh produce throughout the week. People in the city tend to shop more often during the week than to do one large shopping order, and you wont have a car to lug home bags and bags of groceries all at once. Your fridge will be small (dorm size or slightly bigger with a small freezer) as well, so shop often, taking advantage of the local fresh markets and specialty stores like bakeries and butchers. For more information about grocery stores and restaurants, see the Things to Do page!
What should I bring to Australia?
You will need to bring an outlet converter or two to Australia, as they are different than American outlets. You can get them on Amazon. If you bring a power strip, you can plug in multiple devices and use only one converter. You may also want to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats; the sun in Australia is very strong. Bring sneakers, a rain jacket, and a small backpack because you will likely do a lot of walking and exploring the city. It is also a good idea to get an RFID case for your credit cards to block thieves from stealing your information. Additionally, you should bring copies of your passport and credit cards with you so you can report the numbers if they are lost. You can buy most toiletries on site if you don’t want to weigh down your suitcase, but bring medications and the Rx for them with you. Leave some extra room in your suitcase to bring home souvenirs!
What is the dress code?
This is dependent on your partnering organization, but it is usually business casual. Daily casual dress is very similar to America, however keep in mind that you are representing WPI while abroad, so more conservative options are advised. Have one fancier outfit for the final presentation.
Where can I do my laundry?
There are washing machines in most apartments. If you want to do really large loads, you can go to a local laundromat. Those machines usually only accept 1 or 2 dollar coins.
What is the weather like in Melbourne?
If you are completing IQP during B Term, it is Spring at the beginning of your trip and Summer by the end. If you are completing IQP during D Term, it is Summer at the beginning of your trip and Fall by the end. So bring layers.
If you have any additional questions about IQP, or the MPC, please see the Contact Us page.