Project-Based Learning: Motivations, Implementation, and Impacts

Monday, February 25th
Z. Smith Reynolds Library

Keynote Address

ZSR 404 (Auditorium)

In this interactive lecture, Richard Vaz, Director of the Center for Project-Based Learning at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, will introduce project-based learning (PBL) as a strategy for helping students develop key skills and abilities such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and creative problem-solving. He’ll help us explore how PBL fits into the landscape of higher education, look at examples of PBL across the curriculum, and discuss results from a study looking at long-term impacts of PBL on graduates.

Faculty Panel

ZSR 404 (Auditorium)

Claudia Kairoff, Professor of English
Rowie Kirby-Straker, Assistant Teaching Professor of Communication
Alan Brown, Associate Professor of Education
Phoebe Zerwick, Associate Professor of the Practice of Journalism
Paúl Pauca, Professor of Computer Science


ZSR 666, Wilson Wing (TLC Lounge)


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Richard F. Vaz is the inaugural Director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Project-Based Learning, which has provided support to over 120 colleges and universities looking to enhance student learning with project experiences. He earned the BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from WPI, and has served on the WPI faculty since 1987. From 2006 to 2016 Rick served as WPI’s Dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies, overseeing the Global Projects Program, a worldwide network of 46 centers where more than 900 students and faculty per year address problems for local agencies and organizations, as well as WPI’s interdisciplinary research project requirement, the Interactive Qualifying Project.

Rick’s interests include experiential and global learning, faculty development, curricular reform, and institutional change. He has authored over 70 peer-reviewed or invited publications and directed student research projects in 14 locations worldwide, including Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Namibia, Puerto Rico, and Thailand. From 2004 to 2010 he was a Senior Science Fellow of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In 2016 he was awarded the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.