The Engineering Projects in Community Service program, known as EPICS, is a national award-winning social entrepreneurship program. Teams design, build and deploy systems to solve engineering-based problems for charities, schools and other not-for-profit organizations. Our students aren’t waiting to graduate to make a difference—they are tackling real-world problems today.
EPICS courses use an innovative technology-based approach to very old problems—access to clean drinking water, providing nutritious food in remote villages. We do not take an off-the-shelf solution; we are looking for big-picture, breakthrough thinking. The project teams address needs in the Phoenix metropolitan area and around the world in places like Bangladesh, Malawi and Fiji.
Competitions are used as real-world vehicle to provide students with experience focusing their ideas, meeting deadlines, writing a business plan and presenting their ideas to the world. The results? EPICS teams are attracting the funding to make their ideas a reality.
Founded at Purdue in 1995, EPICS provides many benefits to students and communities, local or global. In fall 2009, ASU joined the consortium of 20 universities in the nationwide EPICS program. That year, 35 students enrolled in the first series of EPICS courses. The curriculum and enrollment have grown from one EPICS GOLD class, 35 students, and 8 Epics Teams in 2009 to 6 classes, 142 students, and EPICS teams winning national awards, making it the largest social entrepreneurship program at ASU.
The EPICS at ASU Program is based in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and EPICS courses are open to Engineering undergraduates. Participating students represent a variety of disciplines within engineering. A common theme through all projects is that of sustainability—finding environmentally friendly solutions to community problems.
There are several ways to get involved with EPICS.
Using a service-learning model, EPICS GOLD student teams take on project assignments in collaboration with a not-for-profit entity. The sequence of courses cover feasibility and planning, design and build, implement and install, and a senior capstone project. Projects generally last a year or more, with teams of 4-5 members.
EPICS Maroon is a student organization that works on various projects to help better our community. Students have worked with the local United Way, helped rebuild a trail at South Mountain park for the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and volunteer for the Arizona Rock ‘N’ Roll Paint-a-Thon to paint houses of low-income elderly and disabled homeowners in the Phoenix area.
The ASU EPICS program works with four local high schools—Xavier College Preparatory, Metro Tech High School, ASU Preparatory Academy-Polytechnic school and Cesar Chavez High School—in collaborative projects with ASU students to help engage younger student in engineering and technology concepts, and community involvement.