The VIP Consortium
The VIP Consortium is a nonprofit alliance of higher education institutions with Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) programs. In VIP programs, teams of undergraduate students – from various academic years and disciplines – work with faculty and their graduate students on ambitious, long-term projects. Undergraduates are directly involved in the research and innovation process, applying their own knowledge and insights to unsolved problems.
The VIP model has been studied and refined for more than 20 years. Unlike many other high-impact programs in higher education, VIP is accessible, equitable, and scalable. In 2015, a $5 million multi-institutional grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust helped spread the program to a wide variety of institutions, which collectively became known as the VIP Consortium. The VIP Consortium won the 2019 ABET Innovation Award for its efforts to advance the VIP model and build community among VIP institutions.
VIP Consortium, Inc. was launched as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2019, with directors of VIP programs serving as the nonprofit’s academic advisory council. The nonprofit provides mentoring, tools, and other resources to help institutions start and sustain successful VIP programs. Through the VIP Consortium, affiliated programs from around the world share best practices and collaborate on the continued improvement and dissemination of the VIP model.
VIP Keys to Success
Faculty create projects around their own scholarly interests, so they bring both expertise and enthusiasm to each team. The teams’ efforts help advance their long-term scholarship and research and supports the work of their graduate students.
Undergraduate students choose from a wide variety of VIP projects based on personal interest. They earn academic credit for their work and can participate on a VIP team for up to three years. This provides the time and context for students to:
- gain deeper insights into their field of study;
- learn and practice professional and research skills;
- make substantial contributions to real-world projects; and
- experience different roles on large, multi-disciplinary teams.
The long-term nature of VIP creates a unique environment of mentorship: faculty and graduate students mentor teams, experienced students mentor new members, and students move into leadership positions as others graduate. This structure provides opportunities for students to develop leadership and collaboration skills. It also reduces faculty workload, allowing more time for meaningful engagement with many students.
Students share in any intellectual property that results from their work on VIP projects, fueling interest in entrepreneurship. Many teams also have external industry and government partners.