sealPurdue News

January 15, 2003

Governor honors Purdue's EPICS program with volunteer award

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program will be honored today (Wednesday, 1/15) during a Statehouse ceremony to recognize the importance of volunteers in Indiana communities.

Five organizations will receive the Governor's Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.

Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon will deliver the keynote address during the ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m. in the Statehouse rotunda. Several state legislators will present a resolution of acknowledgment and Lt. Gov. Joseph Kernan will speak.

This year's honorees are: Eli Lilly and Co., representing business and industry; the EPICS program, representing educational institutions; the Lutheran Child-Family Services, for its work in the faith-based category; the Henry County Fund, for being the outstanding United Way organization in the state; and the Volunteer Action Center of Bartholomew County, for efforts to recruit and manage volunteers.

"We're delighted to have this program recognized as a way students can learn the technical aspects of engineering, work in diverse groups and experience the reward of contributing to the community," said William Oakes, co-director of the EPICS program and assistant professor in freshman engineering at Purdue.

Leah H. Jamieson and Edward J. Coyle, professors of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, co-founded EPICS in 1995. In the program, teams of undergraduates earn academic credit for multiyear, multidisciplinary projects that solve engineering- and technology-based problems for community service and education organizations.

Currently the engineering-centered program involves 20 different departments, 300 students and 24 teams working on projects ranging from homelessness prevention to environmental protection to creating toys for children with disabilities.

For her work with EPICS, Jamieson, the Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was named the 2002 Indiana Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She was selected from among 15 nominees from 11 colleges and universities in Indiana.

EPICS programs are now operating at 10 universities in the United States. A group led by Purdue has partnered with Habitat for Humanity International, the first national EPICS outreach program.

At the conclusion of today's ceremony, a public discussion on volunteerism will take place at 11:45 a.m. in the auditorium of the Indiana Government Center, South Complex. The public discussion will feature experts and practitioners in the areas of volunteer management/recruitment, engaging young people and how to educate the leadership structures in local communities.

Organizers said they hope the ceremony and public discussion will become annual events.

Joseph Smith Sr., executive director of the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism, one of three statewide agencies working to engage Indiana residents in community service and volunteerism, said honoring volunteers is significant.

"Volunteers are integral to the delivery of human services, educational programs for adults and children, and in imparting innovative ideas to vital community needs," he said.

Smith's organization will join the Indiana Association of Volunteer Centers and the Indiana Association of United Ways in hosting today's event.

Founded in 1994, the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism is a state agency that acts as a resource, consultant, and is the central coordinating office for the state's community service and volunteer sectors. The agency is responsible for the management and oversight of Indiana's 14 AmeriCorps programs, the Learn and Serve America Community-based grant, Citizens Corps and the America's Promise Fellows program. The agency's mission is to strengthen communities through service and volunteerism.

According to a December report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 59 million Americans volunteered in a one-year period between September 2001 and September 2002.

Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073,

Source: William Oakes, (765) 494-3892,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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