Service learning projects effectively engage engineering students by tying what they are learning in the classroom to a real-life community challenge. Through service learning, students get equipped for the workforce by defining, designing, building, testing, and deploying engineering-based solutions by working hand in hand with a community organization. Students also develop in-demand professional skills such as communication, collaboration, leadership, project management, and time management. Adding service learning to your program is a great way to help mold the next generation of engineers to be more empathic and community-minded.

A service learning project can be done in two ways in an academic setting: through a curricular experience, or an extracurricular experience that can utilize groups such as an IEEE Student Branch, IEEE Affinity Group, or HKN Chapter. Whether your engineering department or student group is well versed in service learning or if this is a new endeavor, EPICS in IEEE (Engineering Project in Community Service) is here to help!

If you are not familiar with EPICS in IEEE, it is a program through Educational Activities at IEEE that gives funding and support to student service learning projects. The committee that manages the program is made up of industry and academic professionals that have experience with service learning. The committee reviews engineering project proposals in four core areas of community improvement (Access and Abilities, Environment, Human Services, and Education/Outreach) and allocates available program funding to strong projects that have the possibility of positively changing the local community. The committee gives out grants from $1,000-10,000 specifically for project materials to develop and deploy community solutions. The approved projects also receive resources and are matched with industry mentors from IEEE that can help make their project successful.

To help you get started, our EPICS in IEEE committee chair has compiled a list of recommended steps for getting started on a service learning project. Within this checklist, you can see the many ways that EPICS in IEEE can be your partner in setting up and supporting service learning projects.

If you are interested in getting started, take a look at our resource below:

Setting up an Academic Service Learning Project: Recommended steps for getting started and integrating EPICS in IEEE

Curious about projects that EPICS in IEEE has supported in the past? 

Check out our past funded projects here: 


  • Dr. Stephanie Gillespie

    Dr. Stephanie Gillespie is an Associate Dean at Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut, USA. She has been a service learning practitioner for 5 years, including development of community partners and supporting student teams with real-world, client-based engineering for nonprofit organizations. Her current research interests span multiple areas of engineering education including makerspaces, multidisciplinary teams, gender diversity and minority retention, and entrepreneurial mindset. Her PhD from Georgia Tech focused on machine learning and signal processing for affective computing, specifically detecting stress and depression in adults with communication disorders. She is currently serving as the 2023 Chair of the EPICS in IEEE committee, and is also involved with the Society of Women Engineers and American Society for Engineering Education