Lifelong Impact

WPI Alumni Report Project Work Has Powerful Long-Term Professional and Personal Impacts

In 2012, WPI commissioned the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute to conduct a study investigating the long-term impacts of WPI’s required projects on the lives and careers of its alumni. The study looked at 38 graduating classes of alumni, from 1974 to 2011, asking about skills and abilities alumni might attribute to their project experiences.

More than 2500 survey responses were received, reflecting a return rate of 25%. Findings from the survey were explored further through a series of in-depth interviews with alumni and with employers.

Alumni of the project-based curriculum reported a wide range of long-term professional and personal benefits of their project work, including:

  • Professional abilities, including developing ideas, solving problems, and using current technology
  • Interpersonal and communication skills, from being team players to taking leadership roles
  • Professional advancement and the ability to succeed and move ahead in business
  • Increased cultural awareness and expanded world views
  • Personal growth including character development and achieving a work/life balance
  • Continued connection to the WPI community
A 2021 update to the survey found similar positive impacts

Detailed Findings from the Alumni Study

  • Alumni reported a wide range of benefits from PBL in the areas of professional skills and abilities, personal impacts, and world views.
  • Alumni who had completed at least one project off campus reported more positive benefits than those who did not in 33 of 39 areas, including world views, personal growth, and professional skill development.
  • Women reported more positive benefits from PBL than men in 36 of 39 areas, with notable differences in leadership, communication, and teamwork.