About the Course
EPICS is a multi-disciplinary initiative that encourages undergraduate students to be involved in the most fundamental of engineering processes - solving real world problems. Students who take the EPICS course will be involved with a team of students and faculty who work with community based organizations to define the course/project objectives. The arrangement is mutually beneficial since it provides the students with real world design, teaming and problem solving experience, and at the same time, provides a needed service and benefit to the community based organizations. The one (or two) credit course is open to Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.
Through the course experience, students will learn about:
- Aspects of project management
- The steps involved in the complete design process
- The customer's role in engineering design
- Communicating effectively with technical and non-technical audiences
Spring 2011 Course OfferingsENGR 270 / ENGR 470 Engineering Projects in Community Service (1-2 credit hours)
Course Prerequisites: ENGR 111 or instructor approval
*ENGR 270 is appropriate for freshman and sophomore students and ENGR 470 is appropriate for junior and senior students. The workload is determined by the number of credit hours (1 or 2) identified by the student when registering for the course. It is not expected that the project will be completed in one semester, but will require multiple semesters for completion. Hence, the EPICS courses will be offered over multiple semesters. Students should talk with the undergraduate advisors in their respective departments for details on how the course credit can be used toward the degree.
EPICS Current Projects
Teams are assigned at the start of each semester. Most students end up on their first choice, but this cannot be guaranteed.
Tamu Water Project
There are many places in the developing world that do not have clean water to drink. There are many communities right here in the United States that does not have clean, running water: the Colonias, a group of 2000 communities along the Rio Grande River. Clay water filters were made to help those in need, with the Colonias community in mind.
The project for this semester is to redesign a press for the clay filters. The press needs to be durable, portable, less industrial looking to be accepted into lesser-developed communities, and easier to use.Tamu Water Project
Stephen Carpenter firstname.lastname@example.org
Bryan Boulanger email@example.com
Campus Sustainability - Bike Parking
With changing times, encouraging environmentally friendlier alternatives is important in today’s society. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, also known as LEED, is a standard developed to promote and maintain “greener” building designs and techniques. The main areas that this standard addresses are sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process. The objective is to obtain a set number of points in these categories to acquire LEED certification.
Texas A&M University is implementing LEED standards to both current and new buildings on campus. Kelly Wellman, the first appointed sustainability officer for Texas A&M University, is the one in charge of overseeing this process. It is her goal to help the university in any aspect that deals with campus sustainability.
For the project last semester, the project team identified two aspects that pertain to sustainability on campus. Information was compiled on xeriscape landscaping, and they designed a more ideal bike rack than those on campus that addresses added security of the bike, ease of use, overcrowding issues, but at the same time confronting conserving space.
The team is looking at designing a new bike rack to improve the experience of parking a bike on campus. The team has already created a prototype with PVC, and has designs in AutoCAD to give to a machine shop. They should install a working bike rack this semester.
Sustainability - Solar Panel Project
There is a project to install solar panels on top of the Netum-Steed building just south of Kyle Field. The EPICS team is working on promoting solar power and creating educational materials related to the solar project.
Transportation Services - Speed Bumps
The project team first familiarized itself with LEED certification and the A&M garages, then proposed designs for lighting and water systems to retrofit into the garage to make it more sustainable. The team will continue to work with Transportation Services to prototype this system in one of the garages, collect data, and presented the impacts of their solution as a model for other campus garages.
They are currently working on a speedbump that harvests energy from cars as they drive over the bump.
Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity
Our local Habitat for Humanity wants wants the help of some Aggie engineers to improve the efficiency of building a house. Design, build, and deploy systems that will be actually used by the organization. Help a great service organization and get some real world experience while getting a grade.
They are currently working on creating a process to stain concrete with fertilizer. Stained concrete could be used in place of plastic tile which is currently used in Habitat homes.
Children's Museum Exhibits
The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley creates innovative learning experiences for children and their families. The museum is interested in providing more interactive and quality educational programs and exhibits. Designing new exhibits for a local museum would improve science and engineering educational resources for the community.
This project involves educating children about math, science, and engineering by designing displays made from recycled materials and providing a fun hands-on interactive experience for The Children's Museum of the Brazos Valley.
In previous semesters, the team built a Theremin and added electronics to a toy train. Most of the Children's Museum projects only take one semester.
The team is creating an online interactive tour of Allen Academy, a local private school. This project was started last semester, and the current system lets users navigate through panoramic photos like Google Street View.
Syllabus and Assignments
Questions about this course and the projects should be directed to:
- Professor Fall 2011 - Dr. Richard Furuta (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Professor Spring 2011 - Dr. Lale Yurttas (email@example.com)
Support from the Association for Former Students is gratefully acknowledged.