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 2014-2015

Design for the Developing World (DDW)
About 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day and 5.5 billion on less than $10.  Yet an overwhelming amount of our engineering resources are dedicated to designing for the top 10 wealthiest percent of the world's population.  DDW's vision is a world where engineers, designers, companies, and universities design not just for the rich but also for the other 90%.  This EPICS course is a first step in that direction. DDW gives students at Princeton the opportunity to earn how to design products and solutions for the other 90% through hands-on design projects.  We are partnered with an organization called Community, Energy, and Technology in the Middle-East (COMET-ME).  A half-Israeli, half-Palestinian group of eight people, Comet-ME builds home-made wind turbines and installs hybrid wind-solar electric grids in the poorest areas of the West Bank. 
DDW pump_picture.jpg
They are also now starting to move into the water sector.  DDW works with them to design products and solutions for the families with which they work.  Our current project involves designing a new type of open-source, solar powered magnetic water pump.  The goal is to create a blue-print for a radically affordable, easily manufactured water pump that could be built anywhere and run in remote, off-grid areas.  A picture of the current design, courtesy of Comet-ME, can be seen at the right.

Faculty Sponsor: Professor Jay Benziger,
Student Project Manager: David Newill-Smith,


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. 


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

Greentrofitâ„¢ Team, Prof. Catherine Peters
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
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).