In 1970 WPI completely revised its traditional approach to engineering education. The resulting program, the WPI Plan, emphasized the use of projects as a distinctive process for achieving educational goals. Every student, as a degree requirement, had to successfully complete two major projects: one in a student's major field, the Major Qualifying Project (MQP) and the second, the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), which related science and technology to societal issues.
The IQP's related to the restoration of the WWII Avenger at Mayocraft, Inc. for the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts enabled the students working with the authors as advisors to apply classroom learning to real world problems including the effects of WWII technology on society over the last half century. Issues ranging from the location of an aircraft for restoration, costs, location or manufacture of parts, collection and verification of data, and whether the final project should be a flying or static display were among the many factors evaluated by the student project teams and incorporated into their final oral and written reports. Although not a part of the projects of the students it is of interest that the Avenger is flying and its restoration project has been made known to the public via the Discovery Channel.
Post project analysis includes student evaluation of the program and faculty as well as periodic reviews of the IQP's by faculty committees. Abstracts of the projects are published. Continuous evaluation of all IQP's makes sure they integrate into a physical reality the social, political, and humanistic dimensions of a technical world.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/wdurgin/34/