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Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) will prepare degree seeking students at UTSA with a national award-winning program. Student teams get the chance to work as professionals with a community partner; and design, build, and maintain systems to solve project-based problems for them. These partners can be non-profits, schools, and other service organizations. This program allows students to get a chance to solve social problems without having to wait until after graduation. Students get involved with the community while they are still at school. The EPICS program at UTSA is housed in the Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design; but EPICS and honors section courses are open to all undergraduates. 

Students engage in the design process from start to finish with an emphasis on sustainability as they deliver products to clients. EPICS are multi-year ventures with students encouraged to work on a project for at least one year. The course structure proposed has a 2-credit hour introduction and a 1-credit continuation each year tied to the service-based project and offered at freshman, sophomore, junior and senior levels. There is also the option of working on Senior Design projects for 2 or 3 SCH a semester upon departmental approval.  


Why enroll in EPICS

By enrolling in EPICS program students get the chance to get a glimpse of their life as professionals. They work as a team while the community partner is their “client”. Students get to work on all stages of a project, starting from identification and conceptual design to developing the prototype and maintenance. They learn how to be a team member or how to lead a team. They receive hands on experience working with fellow students from various disciplines as well as with community partners on a real project. They become a part of a meaningful network within society and receive credit while doing so. At the end of their studies, they get rewarded with EPICS Program certificate.  

EPICS students are encouraged to be independent and take responsibility of their project; yet they get guidance from faculty who have experience on the subject matter. Students initiate, design, and develop the project with constant help and guidance from their mentor. Therefore, we have different mentors for different projects based on the requirements. Students meet with their mentor regularly, and receive community partner’s input as well.  

Production phase of the project is realized either at a lab or at the Makerspace. The Makerspace has state of the art tools and equipment that foster the students’ desire learn and do. Before starting producing the project or the prototype, students receive the training they need to be able to use the facilities and utilize tools and equipment.  

Evaluation and assessment of students in EPICS classes consist of the project deliverables, project mentor’s evaluations, and team members’ evaluations of each other. Students learn to be responsible to their community partners and team members at a very early stage during the project. Besides the regular meetings of the team members and their mentor, each team gives two presentations each semester to update their client, aka community partner.  


EPICS Program Certificate

EPICS Certificate requires 15 SCH. 6 SCH of this has to come from a direct EPICS class. Completing the remaining credit hours can be obtained through core classes that are related to community. For more information please see the catalog: Link here after it has been updated.  

Most students start their EPICS journey in their first year. First year EPICS class qualify towards AIS class, which is a class that every college student in Texas has to take. EPICS instructors tailor the class according to the majors of the students.  

There is a wide variety of projects that the students choose to work on based on their interests and skills.  

Past and Current Projects

This project is one of the most fluid and dynamic projects in the short lifetime of EPICS. It started with a student from UTSA Business Management Department noticing illegal dumping going on in Maverick Creek that is just North of the University campus. The Greenway Maverick Project is meant to engage students from different disciplines of study (business, engineering, environmental, analytics, humanities, etc.) in designing and creating new sustainable methods, machines or products that aid in our efforts to mitigate and alleviate litter and inorganic debris and recyclable materials from filling our creeks and floodways. The project team has pooled multiple partners’ attention who are actively supporting its efforts to find high- or low-tech solutions. There are two main objectives for this project: 

a.  To create an autonomous robot that will recognize, gather, & sort multiple types of trash and recyclables so they can be sent or sold to the appropriate remanufacturing
b. To gain an understanding regarding where the trash is coming from and why we, as a society, tolerate litter and illegal dumping in our creeks and floodways.

Our future for this project will be a high-tech solution of building a robot to recognize and collect different types of recyclable materials from the site. Note: Maverick Creek is a pilot site for this project and with advancements the autonomous robot could be used at multiple sites. 

The team has already made a budget for the hardware and parts required to build the robot and they are working on the hardware design of it and plan to build their first prototype in the Fall of 2023. The team has need for students that are learning software development to assist in the developing the AI algorithms, coding, and interface of the robot. 

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) are becoming increasingly significant in several expeditions. This two-phase research project is aimed towards the design, research, and fabrication of a proof-of-concept autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) with further enhancement and development towards a highly refined and advanced prototype for the 2024 International Robosub Competition. The purpose of phase I for this project is to design and build a proofof-concept autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) capable of meeting all technical requirements and specifications to compete in the 2024 Robosub International Competition. Phase II of this project is the continuation of phase I with the end goal of enhancing the proof-of-concept design into a competition ready prototype for the 2024 Robosub Competition. 

Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) has partnered with San Antonio’s Children's Museum, The DoSeum. The DoSeum is a hands-on, STEM-focused museum aimed at expanding children’s minds, encouraging curiosity, and creating long-lasting positive attitudes toward learning. Their mission, in partnering with EPICS, is to create new/updated exhibits through our contributions. 

The 4D Helicopter Immersion Exhibit will allow Doers to interact with various world locations via a helicopter experience simulated by a screen and control panel. The main goals are for the Doers to learn about climate change in an immersive and engaging way.