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.

Fiji Lights launch prototype

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in News and Events, Teams | Comments Off

The EPICS Team, Fiji Lights, launched their first prototype in July 2013 after a variety of trials and tribulations with their initial models.  Fiji Lights is committed to designing and building a sustainable lighting system for schools in Fiji that do not have access to fuels and electricity after the sun sets, this summer marked their first attempt in being the solution to creating better conditions for students in Fiji.  The team first formed as they were interested in energy, education and the environment.  They all share the same commitment to help others through innovation.

The Fiji Lights team discovered that in Fiji most students are only able to work on homework and studying during the sunlit hours of the day before they have to move to kerosene lamps or are not able to study at all which leads to poor performance in their school.  The team also was concerned with the safety of the students and their families by burning kerosene lamps. This understanding of the circumstances of students in Fiji sparked an interest in the students in EPICS. How could they provide a safer environment for Fiji students to be able to study and do homework while also being cost efficient?

The team first started their project in January of 2013 and began working on a solution to assist students in Fiji. The team’s idea was to have a prototype that met the socioeconomic needs of the Fiji students.  What they did not realize was that their initial prototype was not safe and was not practical to life in Fiji, one of the members of the team nearly caught on fire!  The team went back to finding a prototype that met multiple needs of those in Fiji while also ensuring that it was a product that could be sustainable without a lot of work for the users.  That is when the team turned to basic needs. The idea that needs had to be met first: safety, efficiency, aesthetic appeal and simplicity so that Fiji students could also learn how energy worked and could also reproduce the lights is where the team spent their time refocusing.

The team then found an opportunity for their second prototype to be shipped but it would have to be ready by the end of June 2013.  There was not a moment to spare and Fiji Lights rose to the occasion by diligently working on the second design and building of the prototype. The team first built the charging station where the energy would be captured through the sun by a solar panel  then the lighting structure and lastly, the team hooked up all components and studied the exchange of power from the sun to the solar panel, to the batteries and then to the lights. The team found that their second prototype’s initial testing went far better than their first!  The second prototype lasted for over 10 hours on just one 12 volt battery.

Currently Fiji Lights is testing their prototype in Fiji and hope to hear news soon on the success and/or problems with the prototype.  The team is currently applying for funding and is researching ways to generate more innovative ideas to create electricity for lights.  They would like to explore lights powered by kinetics and biomass energy.

Fiji Lights is composed of the following students:

  • Brendan Cahill: Chemical Engineering, Sophomore
  • Daniel D’Ippolito: Mechanical Engineering, Sophomore
  • Phoebe Henson: Electrical Engineering, Junior
  • Morgan Kelley: Chemical Engineering, Sophomore
  • Rebecca Martarella: Chemical Engineering, Sophomore
  • Anthony Wilson: Electrical Engineering, Senior
Fiji Lights EPICS team with prototype

Fiji Lights EPICS team with prototype

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Bring your ideas to life with EPICS [Video]

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in News and Events | Comments Off

Find out how far you–and your ideas–can go with EPICS.

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Scott Shrake joins Fulton Engineering, will lead EPICS program

Posted by on Dec 11, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events | 0 comments

As the new director of Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Scott Shrake says that the program offers an incredibly unique opportunity for him—and the students, faculty and staff who are involved.

“When I went through my undergraduate engineering program, the outreach and entrepreneurship component was something that I missed,” he says. “I want to see my ideas to have an impact—that is why I am an engineer.”

ASU is one of more than 20 university partners in the national EPICS program founded at Purdue in 1995. In the award-winning service-learning program, teams of undergraduate students design, build and deploy systems to solve engineering-based problems for not-for-profit organizations such as charities and schools. Teams are finding solutions for critical needs both locally and globally—from access to clean drinking water to reducing food waste and feeding those in need.  To fully implement these solutions, EPICS teams also must become entrepreneurial to obtain the necessary resources.

Shrake says that he has always felt a pull to entrepreneurship. While pursuing his doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Shrake tailored his research to the business aspects of engineering, developing methods for evaluating and improving the environmental performance of service industries, especially healthcare and consulting.

Prior to joining ASU, Shrake was a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh where he pursued multiple research interests including sustainable business development, improving the sustainability of healthcare, and biofuel production and use. This work allowed him to collaborate with multiple corporate, governmental and nonprofit organizations including Alcoa, Bayer, Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Kingsley Association.

He sees EPICS as the perfect opportunity to put that expertise, along with his passion for community outreach and development, to work.

“EPICS at ASU has a great foundation. I am excited to have the chance to continue to build the program. The sky is the limit,” he says.

Shrake also brings a passion for teaching. He has mentored high school and undergraduate research groups in the U.S. and in Brazil, where he spent six months as a visiting scholar at the Federal University of Espirito Santo.

“If you had asked me 10-15 years ago what I wanted to be, my secondary answer to being the president of the U.S. was becoming a teacher,” he says. “The structure of EPICS enables me to take teaching a step further and be a mentor.”

Shrake says that one of the keys to success is faculty and staff, and he hopes to increase involvement. “This is a great opportunity for young faculty to increase their outreach efforts and get involved with students who are ready and willing to tackle some of todays biggest problems.”

For students, he sees EPICS as an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up. “Employers love when students take on opportunities like this. It allows students to demonstrate their innovation and creativity, develop a well-rounded skillset, and gain practical hands-on business experience – all while working towards solving global problems. An interdisciplinary background is essential in creating sustainable solutions in todays business environment, and EPICS students will be able to actively develop and refine this background.”

“I would like this program to be the reason that students choose ASU—the pinnacle of what ASU has to offer,” Shrake says.

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Putting technology to work to help fight hunger

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events | 0 comments

Four members of FlashFood – a team of Arizona State University students and recent graduates – won the U.S. Microsoft Imagine Cup this spring. Next they’ll go to Sydney, Australia, in July, to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals, the premiere international student technology competition.

The team members recently talked about their project on Channel 12’s “EVB Live” show in Phoenix.

Read more in Full Circle

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33 Buckets excels at international entrepreneurship competition

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events | 0 comments

A team of ASU engineering students have emerged as award winners in the finals of the international Dell Social Innovation Challenge for student entrepreneurs.

Team 33 Buckets is developing a project designed to provide clean water in communities in rural Bangladesh, where contaminated water is a leading cause of disease and other health problems.

33 Buckets was one of only five teams that made it to the Dell Challenge world finals from among some 1,700 teams that initially entered the competition.

For its performance in the finals, team members will get mentoring from professions over the next year to advance their project and some Dell computer hardware.

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33 Buckets in final round of international innovation competition

Posted by on Jun 1, 2012 in Teams, Uncategorized | 0 comments

33 Buckets
Team 33 Buckets is comprised of mechanical engineering senior Paul Strong and four biomedical engineering students – team leader and senior Pankti Shah, senior Varendra Silva, senior Mark Huerta and junior Connor Wiegand. They will vie for the prizes of $50,000, $20,000 and $10,000, to be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners, respectively, at the Dell Challenge finals.

The team was formed through the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. It was one of eight EPICS teams that were among the 200 teams chosen in the spring as Dell Challenge semifinalists.

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Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative announces 2012-2013 cohort

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events | 0 comments

Teams led by engineering students have been awarded funding through the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative. AlphaStripe, FlashFood and SafeSIPP won funding, and G3Box received a second year of funding through the program.

AlphaStripe is a global, online networking platform for military service members, military families, civilians, and humanitarian organizations to share war-time and conflict zone stories in video, photo, audio, and journal formats. AlphaStripe is led by mechanical engineering graduate student, Eli Chmouni.

FlashFood, G3Box and SafeSIPP developed their projects in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program.

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EPICS teams among standouts in global innovation challenge

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events, Teams | 0 comments

Members of the 33 Buckets team are (from left to right) students Varendra Silva, Connor Weigand, Paul Strong, Mark Huerta and Pankti Shah.

Three student teams in the Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) program in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering are among leaders in the highly competitive 2012 global Dell Social Innovation Challenge.

The team 33 Buckets is one of only five teams from around the world selected to compete in the final round for the Dell Challenge’s World Student Social Innovation Awards June 12 in Austin, Texas.

The teams FlashFood and Project TOTO have been selected as People’s Choice Award winners – earning each team $1,000.

From the more than 1,700 student teams that entered the competition, eight EPICS teams were among the 200 selected for the Dell Challenge’s semifinal round, including SafeSIPP, Team Ride & Bike, Well-Water, Project Cure M^3 and Project Cure Database.

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Engineering student shines at high-powered entrepreneurship boot camp

Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events | 0 comments

Arizona State University chemical engineering major Lindsay Fleming (left) posed with fellow attendees at E-Bootcamp, a prominent international student entrepreneurship conference at Stanford University. She’s with (left to right) Sanjay Rajpoot from University of Southern California, and Alberto Colombo and Elton Cheung from Northwestern University. (The sculpture is “Digital DNA,” by Adriana Varella and Nilton Malz, a seven- foot-tall egg-shaped sculpture made of steel and silicon computer circuit boards in Palo Alto, Calif., near the Stanford campus.)

Think of it like this: You’re part of a small, fledgling advertising agency that has promising talent but not a great amount of experience or a long track record.

Then there’s a surprise call from a major international corporation inviting your agency to make a pitch for their advertising business.

But your company can send only one representative. And, oh, one other thing, can you get your presentation ready to go in just a few days?

That’s close to the kind of situation ASU student Lindsay Fleming felt like she was in several weeks ago.

She was shocked when she received word of approval of her “spur of the moment” application to be her team’s pitcher at E-Bootcamp at Stanford University, a high-powered conference, workshop series and competition for leaders of promising entrepreneurial ventures being birthed by college students.

Fleming, a chemical engineering major in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, is one of the founders of SafeSIPP (Sustainable Innovative Portable Purification), along with fellow chemical engineering students Jared Schoepf and Taylor Barker, and marketing and finance major Jacob Arredondo.

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EPICS Annual Awards, 2012

Posted by on Apr 27, 2012 in Archive Stories, News and Events | 0 comments

Congratulations to the following students, faculty, staff and community supporters honored at the 2012 EPICS annual recognition and awards luncheon held April 25, 2012.

See full list of awards

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