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EPICS: A Service Learning Program at Butler University

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2 Author(s)
Sorenson, J.P. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Software Eng., Butler Univ., Indianapolis, IN ; Linos, P.K.

In this paper we present our experiences teaching EPICS (engineering projects in community service) at Butler University, a small, private university, from within the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. The EPICS program began at Purdue University in 1995. The idea behind EPICS is to have undergraduate students earn college credit for working on long-term, multi-semester projects to benefit charity and non-profit organizations. The projects are student-driven, under faculty supervision. There are many good reasons for having an EPICS program in an undergraduate computer science major. It is excellent for leveraging knowledge from other areas of computer science such as databases, networks, operating systems, and of course software engineering. The students are highly motivated because the project is real: there are real clients who use the software, making the software lifecycle come to life. Students practice teamwork, project management, professionalism, and communication skills. In our paper, we share feedback from our students on what EPICS means to them. At Butler, EPICS has been a success. Our EPICS program started in the fall 2001 semester. We now have two ongoing projects: Spanish-in-action (SIA), with Spanish middle school teachers from Crispus Attuchs Middle School in Indianapolis as clients, and social assets and vulnerabilities indicators (SAVI), with the POLIS Center at IUPUI as the client. We describe both projects in some detail in our paper. EPICS currently counts towards both the computer science major and the software engineering major as an elective at Butler. Our department has about 50 students and 4 full-time faculty, and each semester we have roughly 15 students enrolled in EPICS. We elaborate on how EPICS fits into our curriculum and provide details on how we deliver this course in our paper

Published in:

Frontiers in Education, 2005. FIE '05. Proceedings 35th Annual Conference

Date of Conference:

19-22 Oct. 2005