Vertically Integrated Projects Program
The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is the next revolution in research in higher education. It unites undergraduate education and faculty research, innovation, design, and entrepreneurship in a team-based context that creates long-term, large-scale projects. The VIP Program started at Purdue in 2001 and found a new home at Georgia Tech in 2009. Since then, the program has expanded to a consortium of 28 universities, with NYU Tandon School of Engineering as the only New York City-based institution.
The essential characteristics of the VIP Program are: (1) projects based on faculty mentor’s innovation projects; (2) undergraduate participation for course credit; and (3) learning outcomes focused on the development of disciplinary and professional skills. In VIP courses, multidisciplinary groups can tackle large-scale, grand challenges outside the time constraints of the academic calendar. NYU’s core missions of education, research, and service are inherently integrated through VIP courses.
VIPs are a transformative force in experiential learning. Students gain a more well-rounded learning experience when they can apply concepts to real-world problems. Through VIPs, students interact with the professor’s industry partners (i.e., potential employers), have the opportunity to commercialize their ideas, and receive course credit. Additionally, VIP courses help students develop professional skills such as written and oral communication, teamwork, and creative problem-solving. Undergraduates gain from the long-term activity in a research topic and they get to contribute to the research project in a meaningful way. As students progress through the courses, their seniority on the project demands leadership, management, and mentorship roles that prepare them for the workforce. Many of these skills are passed down from professor to graduate student to undergraduate student creating a sustainable environment for projects to flourish. These advantages are why so many universities have adopted the VIP consortium, and why NYU is working to expand our VIP program.