Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute Review

WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute Review

Wrap up: Faux MIT near Boston lags Ivys and best public Ivys, but outranks many other MIT-alikes for those with less-than-top scores.
Smaller technical engineering school about an hour out of Boston in the shadow of MIT. Robert Godard, father of American rocketry got his start here. I think of it like a faux MIT, (think Hyundai vs Honda or Lexus vs Mercedes) but with lower test scores. Some people compare it with Boston University, and some say it's better for engineering geeks than BU. Ratings seem to put it lower than the best public universities for engineering like Berkeley or U Washington. But at #68, at least it's ranked by US News as a national university, (#555 by Forbes) and its engineering program is ranked by US News better than many of the other MIT-wannabes like Rochester Institute of technology. It's best claim to fame is #3 ranking of salaries of graduates trailing only behind MIT and Harvard in the college galaxy that is Massachusetts.
I've seen the campus, it's got trees and some newer buildings, including the student union. Computer workstations are everywhere. The music program is pretty good, and the athletics appear to be better than MIT. Worcester has a few colleges but it's not the trendiest college town as Worcester has declined a bit from its industrial revolution heyday. The small retail area just off campus has some beat up pizza shops with t-shirt clad students walking by, though there are modern malls in town. Freshmen live in dorms but upper classmen shack up in old wood 3-story houses in the neighborhoods, not like MIT which has massive dorm complexes and lots of frats. In engineering, it's not ranked as highly as the best public universities such as University of Washington, or private ones like Stanford or MIT, but holds its own with many of the better ones like U Mass Amherst and other 2nd string tech schools like Rochester Institute of Technology. The athletics is nothing like the U Washington Huskies, but at least its stadium is on par with a school district like Bothell's Pop Keeney field where MIT is more like a high school field.
Main competition for case study student from Seattle: University of Washington, Santa Clara University, Boston University, Rochester Institute Technology
WPI better

  • WPI is better on US News engineering and Forbes than Rochester Institute, Boston University
WPI worse
  • Santa Clara University is about as good in engineering, better Forbes rating, nicer city

  • University of Washington has better engineering rating, better Forbes rating, better US News national rating

  • No. 1 for student/faculty interaction in the National Survey of Student Engagement
    WPI is #3 top earning university in Massachusetts after MIT and Harvard

  • Industrial Engineering program ranked #4 in 2006 by Princeton Review

  • WPI is #555 Forbes vs #567 for Rochester Institute

  • WPI is US News #68 National, Rochester Institute of Technology is #9 Masters North
  • No. 9 by The Princeton Review for "best career prospects" for graduates of the MBA program.
  • No. 51 by US News 2008 best engineering program for college with doctorate, equal to Tufts, Drexel, higher than Boston University (61), Illinois Institute of Technology (61) Rochester Institute of Technology (70)

  • Interactive Media and Game Development major like Digipen

  • Less than an hour out of Boston, which has a nice autumn, and lots but not insane amounts of snow in winter.

  • If your math is high enough they don't need to look at your SAT reading
  • Good music department

  • WPI is relatively small but not tiny

  • WPI is #555 Forbes vs #150 Santa Clara University

  • WPI lower than University of Washington national ranking #68 US News National vs #42

  • US News engineering #51 ranking below Rensselaer Polytechnic (21), University of Washington (21) Columbia University (25)

  • Forbes #555 lower than #178 University of Washington, #342 Boston University

  • U Washington top 10 computer science department

  • It's in Worcester, old New England industrial mill town

  • Not lampooned by College Prowler

  • Stadium and athletics better than MIT but it's nothing like U Washington Huskies football team
Location: Worcester Mass, less than 1 hr west of college center-of-the-universe Boston off I 90. Ex-industrial town that hosts a lot of other colleges. I took a tour of Worcester to see what there was to see in 1980s and concluded there wasn't much to see there, but NYC and Boston aren't far away.
Admit rate: 66%, comparable to better public universities like U Washington
Cost: expensive, but they have a lot of money, though not as much as MIT
Forbes ranking: 555
US New ranking: 68 National University
Out of state: 46%
ACT 25/75: 24 29
SAT Math 25/75 630 720
Asian: 6% That's pretty low for a tech school, and even fewer other minorities. It's a male-heavy student body and this Asian dad wonders how many Asian women will get on a bus for parties at this school from Boston vs MIT or BU, but there are nearby colleges in town. Asians like tech schools, but also population centers with significant Asians populations.


  1. hi, How's the salary for PhD graduates and Master graduates

  2. It's probably pretty good, but grad schools like U Washington are pretty good too.