History, Mission, & Vision
"To inspire and prepare students for the future while improving their communities today."
"The EPICS K-12 Program will be a leader in developing, disseminating, and supporting service learning models that engage students in engineering and computing-based design projects that meet the needs of their communities."
Purdue University is the founding site and headquarters of the EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program. Since EPICS was established in 1995, thousands of undergraduates have participated in university programs nationally and internationally delivering projects to local communities effecting countless lives. Since 2006 high school students have also been participating in EPICS completing innovative projects across the country. The EPICS High program continues to grow and give more students this amazing experience of working to design solutions that meet real needs in their communities.
The motivation behind the EPICS program is to enable pre-college age students to connect engineering and computing design with people and local community needs. While interest in engineering has been declining, civic engagement among teenagers is near historic highs and many honors diplomas now require service. EPICS is providing an opportunity to tap into the wave of volunteerism while working to interest more students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Started in 2006, EPICS received grant money from CNCS (Learn and Serve America) to kick-off the EPICS High school program. The EPICS program has since grown quickly to include not only high school students but also middle school, upper elementary and extra-curricular programs. Included in the mission of the EPICS program is outreach to underrepresented minority populations. EPICS is showing impact in these areas with high percentages of females and minorities, as well as free and reduced lunch students participating in the program.
In the EPICS program, students work in teams and partner with a not-for-profit organization. Students design projects to meet the needs of this community partner enabling them to better serve residents in the local community. Partnerships are key to the EPICS program. The EPICS model involves the reciprocity of benefits of student, community and mentors. The community partners serve as the customers, corporate and higher education partners serve as mentor to the students offering expertise, and additional partnerships through foundations and philanthropic organizations offer financial and/or material support as needed.
EPICS continues to create a variety of model programs to replicate throughout the nation. Current models include; urban, suburban, and rural schools, as well as programs after school, within the school day, and as part of an existing course. It is the creation of this variety of program models that enables the EPICS Program to successfully replicate and expand across the country.
As with the university EPICS program, community partner projects fall in four broad areas of interest.