EPICS chosen as SEE's Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award winner
Purdue’s EPICS program has been named one of the most influential experiential learning programs in the country.
The program was selected as the 2023 Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award winner by the Society for Experiential Education (SEE). It’s the first time Purdue has won the award, which will be presented at the 52nd annual SEE Conference Sept. 26 in Orlando, Florida.
EPICS is a community-engaged design program that partners teams of students with local and global community organizations to address human, community and environmental needs. Student-led multiyear, multidisciplinary teams design, build and deliver projects for community organizations that solve engineering and technology-based problems for local and global communities. Students work in a setting designed to mimic how design teams work in industry.
“It means a lot to be recognized nationally for the work our team, students and partners do together to enhance the education of our students and work together to address compelling needs within our communities,” said William (Bill) Oakes, director of EPICS at Purdue and assistant dean of experiential learning. “When we work on a daily basis, we focus on what can be improved and often lose track of how far we have come and the successes we have. It really helps to step back and see that we are making a difference and to be recognized nationally reinforces the leadership our program has.”
Since 1995, EPICS has grown to involve more than 200 Purdue faculty and 10,000 Purdue students from across the university.
Purdue faculty involved with EPICS have worked with faculty from more than 100 higher education institutions globally to adapt the EPICS model. More than 50 universities and colleges have EPICS courses or programs, impacting more than 40,000 students.
The EPICS University Consortium was established in 2001. The consortium holds annual workshops to enable participants to share insights on the development of project-based experiential learning programs. The latest workshop was held at Morgan State University June 22-23.
Arvind Raman, John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, wants to make Purdue Engineering “second to none in experiential learning.” EPICS is a key piece in that vision. The program compliments those in industry (internships and Co-ops) and research (Vertically Integrated Projects and undergraduate research) and is the piece that addresses needs within underserved communities, Oakes said.
“The connection with engineering and community impact aligns with research on diversity, and the EPICS program has proven to be a vehicle to help attract and engage students from populations who are traditionally underrepresented within engineering,” Oakes said.
EPICS has been honored by the National Science Foundation in 2002, the National Academy of Engineering in 2005 and 2012 and the American Society for Engineering Education in 1997 and 2012.