Keller Center - Educating Leaders for a Technology-Driven Society


EPICS: Engineering Projects in Community Service

EPICS was founded at Purdue University in Fall 1995 and first introduced at Princeton University in Fall 2006 by co-founder Professor Ed Coyle *82.  EPICS is a unique program in which teams of undergraduates are designing, building, and deploying real systems to solve engineering-based problems for local community service and education organizations.  At Princeton, the Keller Center partners with Community-Based Learning Initiative (CBLI) to provide students with this hands-on multi-disciplinary learning experience. 

Students enrolling in EPICS earn course credit while using their expertise to make a difference in the community.  At the beginning of the semester, students choose one of the three existing projects and teams meet and work on that project throughout the academic year.  Freshmen and sophomores should enroll in 250 and 251, juniors in 350 and 351, and seniors in 450 and 451, respectively. In order to receive full credit for the course, students must enroll in the 2-course sequence, e.g., EGR 250 and EGR 251.  For questions about registration, please contact Victoria Dorman at

EPICS Projects 2013-2014

NEW FOR FALL 2013 Development Energy Design Team, Prof. Jay Benziger
The team will focus on designing innovative solutions to energy and resource problems faced by communities in the West Bank. Our current projects include developing wind turbine optimization software and designing cheap, reliable water pumps. However, there are a plethora of potential projects related to energy, water allocation, and resource utilization. Our community partner, Comet-ME, works in the South Hebron Hills, an area of the West Bank that has remained largely untouched by modernization for the past millennium. They work to improve the economic condition of the largely agricultural communities by providing electricity through the installation of hybrid wind/solar renewable energy systems. They are currently serving over 1600 people in six separate villages. Comet-ME is currently working on projects to provide basic utilities and services to these villages as well. Projects would be driven by the community partner and chosen collectively by Comet-ME and the faculty and students involved. In this new EPICS team students will learn how to leverage their engineering backgrounds to develop solutions for underdeveloped communities.

Power in a Box, Profs. Catherine Peters and Elie Bou-Zeid 
Thumbnail image for EPICS - Power in a Box

Power in a Box is a technology that EPICS students are developing to provide portable renewable energy to recovering and off-the-grid communities, serving to replace diesel generators. The 1 kW system includes a wind turbine that can be transported in a shipping container, and erected to 40 ft in about 45 minutes using only human power.

In the spring of 2012, the students brought their "Power-in-a-Box" system to Washington, D.C. to compete in the EPA P3 National Sustainable Design EXPO, winning a grant of $90,000. In the 2012-13 academic year, the EPICS team will use the Phase II grant to further develop the technology and test its deployment in rural communities, including Africa. Students from all disciplines, within and outside engineering, are welcome.  Additional information about the project can be found at


The Time Team, Prof. Michael LittmanTime Team 2012
The team continues its collaborations with Isles, Inc. and the Princeton Regional Schools. This fall, the team will continue restoring a turn-of-the-century Elgin bicycle, a player piano, and also finish restoring a tower clock at a former textile factory in Trenton, including the construction and installation of three clock-faces and hands. 

Some students will also be working on the restoration of a variety of mechanical equipment such an early 1900s cash register, a John Deere "Hit-and-Miss" engine, and an ice cream maker. The team will also continue to work with the Engineers Club at the John Witherspoon Middle School, and with science teachers to plan and implement a program of engineering related activities. 

Greentrofitâ„¢ Team, Prof. Catherine Peters - PROJECT COMPLETED 
Check out this Spring 2008 PWB article about the Greentrofitâ„¢ Team and read more about the project on the team's old website.

Sustainable Buildings Team - The B Home, Lecturer Ismaiel Yakub (finishing Spring 2013)
B home team 2012

The plan for the year is two-fold: 1. Study and refine the current B-home design, and 2. Break new grounds by exploring alternative methods, materials and system(s). To achieve our objectives for the year, the team will be divided into for sub-groups, namely: LHVAC (Lighting/Electricity, Heating, Ventilation and Cooling), Roofing, Structure and Water and Waste Management System.

The LHVAC team will be responsible for designing a renewable scalable system that supplies one person (or a B-home) with electric power for powering up lamps and other basic appliances. They will also be responsible for studying the energy efficiency of the current B-home prototype, and redesign the home accordingly to make it more energy efficient. The Roofing team will be upgrading the current roof system to a vegetative roof. Compared to conventional roofs, vegetative roofing systems are more sustainable, ecofriendly and have a longer shelf-life (because of higher resistance to thermal shock). They (the roof) also help to increase the energy efficiency of a home (resulting in energy savings), and their higher thermal mass helps to control temperature fluctuation.

The structure team will be responsible for the design of a foundation that is adaptable to almost any ground/surface condition/type/topography, and has the ability to mitigate the effect of after-shock. It is our hope that the foundation will also help to properly "ground" the B-home against natural elements such as heavy wind and rainfall. In addition, the team will be using SAP analysis to gain an understanding into the strengths and limitations of the current B-home prototype, and will be using the information gathered to design and build the next generation of the B-home. The current frame of the B-home is made of stainless steel, and we are of the hope that by the end of the year, the frame will be fabricated from Bamboo, which is a more sustainable material.

The fourth sub-group, the Water and Waste Management Team, designed and constructed a robust and scalable system that can supply enough water for daily need (such as drinking, hygiene, sanitation and cooking). The team also built a mockup of a system that recycles sewage water for the purpose of re-use, and wastes (such as feces) for the purpose of energy generation (in the form of electricity and heat).