The most important aspect is that students working on EPICS projects develop important skills, which are transferable to any other real world problems, making the engineering graduates much more “employable”. Students benefit in several ways.
Gain design experience of real systems
Develop teamwork & communication skills
Gain project planning & leadership experience
Gain understanding of ethical, economic, & legal issues
Get involved in the community
Have something to talk about in interviews!
Make a difference!
Accrediting agencies around the world agree that the outcomes of engineering programs which result in the following graduate attributes can be considered to make the graduates employable. These are the requirements of NBA, the National Board of Accreditation in India.
- Engineering knowledge
- Problem analysis
- Design/development of solutions
- Conduct investigations of complex problems
- Modern tool usage
- The engineer and society
- Environment and sustainability
- Individual and team work
- Project management and finance
- Life-long learning
Traditional engineering colleges have curriculum which addresses the first 5 of these outcomes, i.e. the technical skills, quite well. However, these colleges face a lot of difficulty addressing the other 7 outcomes, which are professional skills very important for employability. Engineering colleges attempt to overcome this problem very often by offering special courses which cover these outcomes. The problem is that this approach is not very effective. Experience all over the world has shown that the most effective way to teach professional skills is through working on real world projects. EPICS program is a very good way to do this, since students are working with human beings in communities and delivering real prototypes and projects to satisfy real needs. The learning of professional skills is integrated into the learning of technical skills in this approach. EPICS projects provide an excellent opportunity for industry experts and alumni of engineering colleges to guide, mentor and evaluate projects delivered by groups of students to community partners. An overarching benefit of EPICS programs is that a large number of societal problems are addressed. For the students, EPICS programs not only make them more employable, but also develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
Prof. Williams Oakes founded this program at Purdue University almost 20 years ago. Now EPICS programs are at over 30 Universities all over USA. The IUCEE-EPICS Partnership has been launched in 2016. It is now in its second year. Fourteen IUCEE Consortium Institutions are members of this IUCEE-EPICS partnership in 2017 (there were six in 2016, and two have continued to be associated with the EPICS program in 2017), and are engaged with several community partners with the goal of providing engineering education with emphasis on design thinking and development of professional skills while assisting communities on real projects.
Some examples of EPICS projects at the six IUCEE-EPICS partner colleges during 2016 are:
- Multi tasking wood cutting machine
- Log making machine from cow dung
- Modern pesticide sprinkler
- Simple crop cutting machine
- Digi jogging shoes
- Neck to waist support
- Flexible Agri nutrient applicator
- Banana fiber twisting machine
- No load air conditioning for school AC bus
- Sahaya Mobile Application
- A New Beginning For Homeless
- Gesture Based V-voice Device with GSM and GPS technology
- Health Monitoring Device
Prof. Bill Oakes of Purdue University, along with the IUCEE team, personally visits the IUCEE‐EPICS institutions several times a year. They also conduct weekly webinars for the college faculty and students. This includes a formal course in Design Thinking for faculty from these colleges, and mentoring for faculty and students working on EPICS projects. Participating faculty and students receive formal certificates from EPICS program at Purdue University upon satisfactory completion of projects.