Companies and organizations have a vested interest in encouraging young people to explore career opportunities in engineering. A common quote familiar to engineering students says, “Engineers are the drivers of this planet.” In that same vein, EPICS in IEEE has become a significant driving force in the engagement of university and high school students, arming them with the financial support and council to tackle real world issues, while also increasing their engineering knowledge base and practical working experience.
A few recent EIPCS in IEEE projects, many supported with corporate funding, typifies how tomorrow’s engineering leaders are being set on a path for successful careers that will bring benefit to communities around the world. For example:
- A Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) team, including students from Ecole Polytechnique, constructed six rooftop photovoltaic panels to provide off-grid electricity for the La Palabre domestic violence shelter in Thies, Senegal
- A University of Cape Town team installed a photovoltaic power and solar water heating system at the Emasithandane Children’s Home in Nyanga, Cape Town, South Africa. Seven graduate students and two undergraduate students collaborated with 15 high school students and two high school instructors on this project
In fact, a 2014 McKinley Advisors “Impact Study” on EPICS in IEEE evaluated five EPICS in IEEE projects that involved 55 university students, 41 local high school students, five university faculty, more than five NGOs, and more than 450 local community members and end-users. The project teams, stakeholders, and community beneficiaries all reported high satisfaction levels with their project. What’s more, the majority of university students cited “learning how engineering can solve real-world issues” as the greatest benefit from the program.
The study also indicated that eighty-one percent of university students reported that EPICS in IEEE positively impacted their likelihood of pursuing engineering as a profession, while “high school students gained an introductory understanding of engineering principles, which was perceived to cause a heightened interest in engineering.”
The five projects in the study are typical of EPICS in IEEE projects and clearly demonstrate that the program is working, but more corporate funding is needed to maintain momentum so that EIPCS in IEEE can achieve its goal to support twenty (20) new projects a year for the next five years. Corporate contributions are a key factor in supporting EPICS in IEEE work in local communities, while also encouraging the growth and development of a global talent pool.