WPI was founded just after the Civil War, a time when America was on the brink of a great period of industrial growth and technological innovation. Its founders wanted to create a new kind of university to help prepare a new professional class of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to fuel this new era. They had different ideas about how best to educate technological professionals, and in merging their visions, a new, influential model of higher education emerged.
In this model, students not only learned the fundamentals of science and engineering, but also had opportunities to apply them by solving real-world problems. The model remains the core of WPI's distinctiveness and is at the heart of its pioneering approach to undergraduate education. The university's innovative approach to education has produced several generations of men and women who have used their knowledge and skills to make the world a better place.
WPI educates talented men and women in engineering, science, management, and humanities in preparation for careers of professional practice, civic contribution, and leadership, facilitated by active lifelong learning. This educational process is true to the founders' directive to create, to discover, and to convey knowledge at the frontiers of academic inquiry for the betterment of society. Knowledge is created and discovered in the scholarly activities of faculty and students ranging across educational methodology, professional practice, and basic research. Knowledge is conveyed through scholarly publication and instruction.