Engineering students to present community projects

Allen Academy and the Children's Museum of the Brazos Valley are among a group of organizations benefitting from a student-led effort at Texas A&M in which aspiring engineers tackle projects aimed at improving their community.The effort, known as "EPICS," which stands for Engineering Projects in Community Service, has resulted in six community-based initiatives that will be reviewed in detail Thursday (May 6) at the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. The project presentations are open to the public and scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Rm 256 of the Jack E. Brown Engineering Building on campus.This semester's projects include partnerships with the Children's Museum of the Brazos Valley, Allen Academy, Habitat for Humanity, Texas A&M Transportation Services, the Colonias Program and sustainability initiatives at Texas A&M.A partnership between EPICS and the Children's Museum of the Brazos Valley is helping to generate interest among children in math, science and engineering through the creation of new educational and interactive child-safe exhibits.Allen Academy is receiving a helping hand from student engineers who are assisting in enhancing the school's online presence by helping it to more effectively convey important information to students, parents, teachers and other interested audiences.At Texas A&M, the EPICS course is open to all engineering students and is instructed by Lale Yurttas of the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. Students participating in the EPICS program earn academic credit with multiyear, multidisciplinary projects that solve engineering and technology-based problems for community service and education organizations.Other projects include a student team working closely with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) as part of a project aimed at designing independent green homes for the organization's clients. This semester, an EPICS team has worked to develop a green building rating system for the Bryan/ College Station HFH Affiliate while also exploring the potential use of solar power within the homes.EPICS also has partnered with Texas A&M Transportation Services to examine how solar panels and solar energy can help create more sustainable parking on campus. Related efforts include the use of solar trees to generate energy and provide shade to outdoor lots around campus. The team is also investigating smarter lighting solutions in campus garages and at outdoor lots.A partnership between EPICS and the Colonias program at Texas A&M is helping to supply clean water to the 2,000 communities along the Rio Grande River by improving the durability and portability of a press for the clay water filters in use in that region.Another team of students is assisting Kelly Wellman, Texas A&M's sustainability officer by examining the potential implementation of "xeriscape landscaping," which if employed on campus, could significantly reduce water costs by using native plants to the region. The group also designed enhanced bike racks offer added security and ease of use while conserving space.For more information on the EPICS program at Texas A&M, contact Yurttas at (979) 847-9316 or via e-mail at, or contact Richard Furuta of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at (979) 845-3839 or via e-mail at