Panama City, Panama Project Center (MQP)
The Republic of Panama forms a link between Central and South America, constituting an isthmus 60 miles wide at its narrowest point. The country has over three million residents, with one-third living in the capital, Panama City. World-famous for the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, Panama City is the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America. It has seen significant growth and is known for international shipping and banking, transportation, insurance, warehousing, and sales. The combination of colonial ruins, modern high-rise office buildings, luxury homes, and squatters’ slums reflects the blend of cultures, eras, and economic levels that are found in the city. Panama City has numerous tourist attractions, including Panamá Vieja (the ruins of the original city), Casco Viejo (the Old Quarter), museums, and national parks. The country has a tropical maritime climate, with an average daily high temperature of 87°F.
Participants are housed in a former U.S. military base alongside the Canal. Bedrooms are double or triple occupancy and have their own bathrooms and balconies. Living rooms and kitchenettes are shared, and many basic amenities (24-hour security, laundry facilities, internet connections, etc.) are provided. The rooms have air conditioning, hot water, cable TV, and free internet. Accommodation type and location are subject to change without notice and will be confirmed the term prior to departure.
Panamanian Cuisine is a mix of African, Spanish, and Native American techniques, dishes, and ingredients, reflecting its diverse population. Since Panama is a land bridge between two continents, it has a large variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs that are used in native cooking. Typical Panamanian foods are mildly flavored, without the pungency of some of Panama's Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. Common ingredients are maize, rice, wheat flour, plantains, yucca (cassava), beef, chicken, pork and seafood. Make sure to take any dietary restrictions or allergies into account as you consider this site and inform your advisor and IGSD of any health concerns well in advance of your participation in this program.
Students must arrive on or before the posted start date and stay through the posted end date of the program. Dates will be posted in the Fact Sheet at the top of this page. WPI housing will be available from the start date to the end date. If students plan to arrange any personal travel before or after the program, they are responsible for arranging and paying for their own housing.
Past Panama City students have:
- Design of an earth gravity dam
- Analysis of ways to improve a dredging project intended to deepen the Pacific Access Channel
- Analysis of construction management techniques to determine if equipment was being used in an optimal way during the construction of the Borinquen 1E dam
- Design of grouting systems for use in the foundation of a dam
Students will be billed the following fees by WPI for the WPI semester they are away, on the regular WPI billing cycle (i.e. Fall semester, and Spring semester).
In addition to this, students should budget for the following while away:
- WPI Tuition and Fees
- WPI Housing Fee (if applicable)
- WPI Meal Plan (if applicable, reduced for term away)
- Global Projects Program Housing and Program Fee (for applicable programs)
- Local transportation
- Airfare (if applicable)
- Tourist activities and incidentals
- Project related incidentals
A breakdown of all estimated expenses for Panama City can be found here: Panama City Estimated Expenses
WPI is committed to the health, safety, and security of all students who participate in our programs. While off-campus study can present unique challenges and inherent risks, we believe that careful research and diligent planning are keys to a safe and rewarding project experience. WPI utilizes several key resources to understand the risks of travel in the countries where we operate, and we urge you to consult these same resources as you research your intended destination. You can also discuss questions and concerns about your travel plans with on-campus resources such as the IGSD, the Student Health Center, the Office of Disability Services, and the Student Development and Counseling Center. It very important that you consider your own health requirements as you review what sites are most interesting to you, and that you carefully review the published information concerning health, safety, and security at the resources linked below prior to applying to a particular site. Make sure to visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for the most up to date health and vaccine information, and review all information in relation to your own health and any medical conditions you may have.
Country-specific travel health information from the Centers for Disease Control
Country-specific page from the U.S. Department of State
Student travel website from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Project Center Website