Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program

Mentor and students interacting at a UPOP event

UPOP History

UPOP was launched in 2001 as an initiative of then dean of the School of Engineering, Thomas Magnanti, Institute Professor, MIT EECS and Professor of Operations Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He recognized that MIT students receive a best-in-class technical education, but aren’t given the opportunity to develop the softer skills that will help them succeed in the workplace. Partnering with UPOP’s founding faculty director, Dick Yue, Philip J. Solondz (1948) Professor in Mechanical Engineering, a yearlong program was created to prepare MIT sophomores to enter and thrive in the professional world through experiential learning, individual coaching, and mentoring relationships with MIT alumni and industry partners.

The structure and curriculum has changed over the years, but currently consists of three, one-credit courses. In the fall and spring courses (2.EPE), students participate in workshops that allow them to gain “milestone” skills to help them succeed in looking for and thriving in professional positions. Over MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP), UPOP offers Team the Training Workshop (TTW), a multi-day, experiential learning opportunity focusing on teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. After successfully completing the program, students are considered “UPOPers” for life, retaining access to UPOP resources and support from staff. And many program alums have gone on to become UPOP mentors, volunteering their time to support MIT sophomores.