IEEE members have risen to the challenge of leveraging their technical expertise to solve problems facing their communities. But in order to be successful, members need partnerships and grant money to get their ideas off the ground. That’s where EPICS in IEEE comes in.
Short for Engineering Projects in Community Service, EPICS matches IEEE volunteers and student members with high school students. Together, they work with community-based organizations on engineering-related projects. EPICS is an IEEE Foundation priority initiative managed by the IEEE Educational Activities Board. To be chosen, projects must offer an immediate and broad impact and be sustainable.
A number of projects received EPICS grants in November. Here are a few.
Who: IEEE Ottawa Section and IEEE student branch at Carleton University
Grant awarded: US $22,000
Project: Until this year, the 600 underprivileged children who attend the Christie Lake Kids camp in Ottawa have not had access to hot water. Because the camp is off the electrical grid and is not connected to a source of hot water, IEEE volunteers and students are stepping in to help. They are using the grant to construct a solar-powered water-heating system, which is expected to be completed by the time campers arrive in June. The camp is designed to meet the needs of local children whose families live in poverty.
- Who: IEEE Beijing Section and IEEE student branch at Beijing Jiaotong University
Grant awarded: $2,500
Project: IEEE volunteers and students are designing and building intelligent desks and chairs that can be adjusted to the height of each student. The furniture will be donated to the primary school affiliated with Beijing Jiaotong University. Furniture that can automatically adjust to various heights might help children learn better by allowing them to see the front of the classroom more clearly. It also might help them improve their posture.
Who: IEEE Delhi Section and IEEE student branch at Northern India Engineering College, Delhi
Grant awarded: $9,840
Project: IEEE volunteers and students are partnering with Narayan Seva Sansthan, a charity that helps treat patients who suffer from paralysis due to polio, to develop a voice-activated smartphone app that soon could provide greater mobility and independence for people who rely on wheelchairs. The group is working to design, build, and test 20 smart wheelchairs to be controlled by the app. The project aims to help patients become more self-reliant.
- Who: IEEE Lahore Section
Grant awarded: $6,841
Project: Only about 800 of Pakistan’s 171,000 registered engineers work in biomedical engineering. To boost interest, volunteers are developing a mobile biomedical engineering and neuroscience lab to introduce students to the field. Once the laboratory is set up, volunteers plan to drive the equipment around in a series of workshops for high school and first-year university students throughout the Punjab province. Help4Help, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of Pakistani children through education, has agreed to assist in arranging the workshops.
Who: Students at Arizona State University, Tempe
Country: United States
Grant awarded: $7,250
Project: Thanks to a STEM outreach program at Arizona State, 20 minority and low-income middle-school students might not only become the first in their families to graduate from high school but also might pursue engineering careers. The students, from rural Superior, Ariz.—all Hispanic and half of them girls—built, tested, and analyzed data from a mechanical flapping bird vehicle that is similar to a drone. They also learned how to design gadgets using analytical software and 3-D printers.
Who: Student branch at Texas A&M University
Country: United States
Grant awarded: $6,600
Project: Student members worked with a chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, a national organization that provides after-school activities for children, to develop Saturday Engineering Academy—a three-semester program for minority and low-income students in Kingsville. Sixty participants will meet for eight Saturday afternoon classes to learn about technology through hands-on activities. They will work to build a flapping mechanical wing, a motor-free device that tracks the sun, and an electronic ear based on artificial neural networks. IEEE student members are the instructors, and students from nearby Veterans Memorial High School plan to assist for extra credit in their engineering-related classes.