Improving IQP Advisor Matching Public
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The goal of this MQP is to improve the off-campus Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) advisor placement process for the Global Experience Office (GEO), formerly the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division (IGSD), of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The GEO is part of WPI’s Global School, and manages and operates many project centers throughout the world. One of the critical aspects of running project centers successfully is to ensure that they are staffed with appropriate advisors. This creates a challenge for those in the GEO responsible for matching IQP advisors to project centers each year because of the complexities of the process. Additionally, the current manual process is laborious and takes longer than desired for them to complete. They presently need to match advisors to approximately 100 spots at over 50 site-term combinations, while taking many different aspects into consideration including site preferences, experience levels, and language abilities. We designed a semi-automated solution for this challenge by considering the matching of advisors to project centers according to the preferences and characteristics of each advisor and the attributes of each project center. In our solution, we develop a novel integer optimization model and embed it within Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in Excel to create a tool that will output recommended IQP advisor matchings while allowing for interactivity. Thus, the GEO faculty using our tool can adjust the output based on their deeper understanding of the matching process. We expect this tool to have a noteworthy impact on WPI’s global project program by significantly reducing the time commitment without compromising their ability to control the outcomes of this process.
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