Community service agencies face a future in which they must take advantage of technology to deliver the services they provide. They need the help of people with strong technical backgrounds.
Undergraduate students face a future in which they will need more than solid expertise in their discipline to succeed. They will be expected to work with people of many different backgrounds to identify and achieve goals. They need educational experiences that can help them broaden their skills.
The challenge is to bring these two groups together in a mutually beneficial way. In response to this challenge, Purdue University has created EPICS. EPICS is a unique program in which teams of undergraduates design, build, and delver real systems to solve engineering-based problems community service organizations
EPICS works best when:
- EPICS works with committed partners to design, develop, deliver, and support real projects in our local community.
- EPICS and our partners identify both long and short term projects for the teams to design.
- our partners and EPICS work together to support the education of the students as we develop benefits for our local community.
EPICS does not work as well:
- for partners expecting quick design and delivery. Students only take EPICS for one or two credits per semester and the pace of projects should be at that pace.
- projects that don't align with the academic calendar. Semesters start in August and January and the planning for these semesters is done about six months in advance.
- high intensity, short term projects.
- projects that have no engineering or computing design work.
All EPICS partners are not-for-profit community organizations, educational or governmental agencies.
The selection of community partners, is based on these key criteria:
- Significance - not all projects can be undertaken, so partners whose projects should provide the greatest benefit to the community are given priority.
- Level of Technology - projects must be challenging to, but within the capabilities of, undergraduates. While EPICS draws from many disciplines, each team must have an engineering design component.
- Expected Duration - projects that will span several semesters or even years offer the greatest opportunity for our students to participate in an extensive design experience. It has also proven valuable to have a mix of short-term (one semester to one year) and long-term (multi-year) projects, in that the short-term projects build confidence and help establish the relationship between the student and the community partner.
- Availability of appropriate students and mentors - EPICS works very hard to attract a broad base of students but there are projects that require specific expertise. We may need to limit the number of projects that require specific expertise depending on the availability of students with that expertise as well as the availability of qualitfied faculty, staff or community advisors for the teams
- Funding- No costs are required from the partners for typical development of EPICS projects. For large projects or projects that may need to be replicated in large numbers, outside funding may be required with the expectation that EPICS would work with the community partner to secure this funding.
- Project Partner Commitment - a crucial element of the program has been the commitment of individuals in the partner organizations to work with the students.
Expectations of our partners include:
- Meeting with the students three times each semester
- Responding via email or phone every one or two weeks
- Agreement to assume the majority of liability for projects after completed and delivered
- Agreement to participate in the maintenance and service of delivered project
- Willingness to work with the student teams to identify projects, specify requirements, and provide ongoing critical feedback
If you think that you fill these roles, please fill out the Possible Project Partners Form.