Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Rural Tourism Project

Rachel Doucette is a junior, studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Design, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She is from East Providence, Rhode Island. Much of her interest in the field of mechanical design lies within the field of the design of adaptive mechanism for people with disabilities.

This January she spent several weeks in Ecuador completing my Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). Ecuador taught her a lot about how culture can affect tourism as well as how tourism destinations are all around us. A destination does not necessarily need to be an amusement park, there are a large segment of tourist who are more interested in exploring the daily life and practices of local people.

Michael Capobianco is a junior studying Computer Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. This past winter he was part of a WPI team that worked on a seven-week project in a rural community in Ecuador focused on improving the accessibility in tourism to increase tourism activity for the region. He found working on this rural community-based inclusion project a valuable and rewarding experience.
Since his formative years in Connecticut, he has been deeply involved with Special Olympics as both a volunteer and Unified Partner and working on this project enabled Capobianco to leverage his desire to help and support others in an entirely new and different venue.

Clark Ewen is an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts. There, he is working towards degree in electrical and computer engineering with a minor in business. With a focus in analog circuit design and autonomy, Clark is hoping to start a business in the field of automation and artificial intelligence. At WPI, he plays on the football team and is in the electrical engineering honor society.

Recently, Clark traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador to complete his social sciences project for WPI. During that time, he developed plans for a rural tourism venture to modify its existing facilities and activities to allow those with physical disabilities to visit and participate in. He learned the importance of inclusion and accessibility for all, how to assess the degree of accessibility at a tourist site, and methods to transform the tourist experience for those with disabilities.

Matthew Hoffer is a junior robotics engineer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Originally from Upstate NY, he travelled to Worcester for WPI's prestigious robotics degree and their IQP program. After college he hopes to start a career working in practical effects, helping to make movies come to life.

While working in Ecuador for WPI's IQP program, Matthew was able to spend 7 weeks experiencing a new culture. His project was focused on incorporating accessibility to rural tourism, which opened his eyes to how in-depth tourism can be. He learned a significant amount about the needs of the disabled community, and how to ensure those needs are appropriately met.