Freshman Honors College student Eesha Patel may be studying industrial management, but the breadth of people impacted by her work extends far beyond the classroom and even Purdue University itself. Through the EPICS program, Patel has been able to use her knowledge and skills to do more than she ever dreamed possible.
Honors College student Eesha Patel
EPICS, which stands for Engineering Projects in Community Service, is a service learning design program in which teams of students partner with local and global community organizations to address human, community and environmental needs. The program was founded at Purdue in the fall of 1995 and is open to students of all ages and backgrounds. Although this semester is Patel’s first in the program, she is already seeing its impact, both on herself and the community partner her team is assigned to.
“My team is working on building assistive technology for stroke rehabilitation patients for a hospital in Ireland called Croí House,” Patel explained. “We are using Unity, a gaming software, and Leap Motion, a sensor device that supports hand and finger movement. We create scenes on Unity (i.e. a supermarket, ATM) so stroke patients can practice daily activities virtually using the Leap Motion’s sensing capabilities. In the end, we hope to have a set of scenes to give Croí House.”
As the sole freshman on her four person team, Patel serves as the team’s project archivist.
“Our team is comprised of three engineers and me (an Industrial Management student), so I make sure documentation is up to date and information is organized and distributed,” she said. “Other roles include website designer, design lead and financial officer. On a weekly basis, I do research on different sets in order to maintain cultural authenticity.”
Patel’s team is currently working to develop an ATM scene. She assists by investigating how ATMs in Ireland differ from those in the United states and ensuring the designs her team creates match the needs of Croí House.
Although she has only been working with EPICS for a couple of months, Patel says the program has substantially shifted her perspective on life and goals. She now realizes she has the power to impact the lives of others and will strive to use her education to maintain that social impact with meaningful work.
“I am a huge proponent of self-improvement and involvement,” Patel added. “EPICS is an amazing platform through which to do that. It has taught me that it is not enough for me to accumulate knowledge and not share that with others. I now believe I have a social responsibility to use my skills to help others and better people’s lives. The most rewarding part of the experience is knowing that I am not only learning so much and bettering my life and skill set, but am doing the same for someone else.”
Interested in getting involved in EPICS? Patel strongly encourages it, sharing that although it may be intimidating to work on a project that stands to impact people’s lives so profoundly, the benefits gained can be astronomical. You can learn more about other project teams on the EPICS website: https://engineering.purdue.edu/EPICS
After all, a significant component of college is learning more about yourself and building an identity and purpose. Although that thought may seem daunting, Ghandi proposed a simple solution.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”