Newsroom Search Newsroom home Newsroom Archive
Purdue News

* EPICS Entrepreneurship Initiative
* Purdue Idea-to-Product Competition

March 22, 2007

Student entrepreneurs take inventions to national competition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Three teams of Purdue University student entrepreneurs will compete with other universities in a national event to determine the best engineering design to solve problems for community and social organizations.

The 2007 National Idea-to-Product Competition for Engineering Projects in Community Service & Social Entrepreneurship will take place Friday (March 24).

Engineering Projects in Community Service, known as EPICS, was founded at Purdue in 1995. It is a program in which teams of undergraduate students design, build and deploy systems to solve engineering problems for community service and educational organizations.

The competition, to be held at Princeton University, will include seven EPICS teams and four showcase teams.

"Showcase teams are social entrepreneurial teams that are not involved with EPICS but have designed products that help society," said Nancy Clement, interim director of the EPICS Entrepreneurship Initiative. "The showcase teams' products will be presented at the event, but they will not be judged and they will not receive an award."

The Purdue teams are:

*  Lafayette Adult Resource Academy. Its product is called the iTEL, for Interactive Technology Enhanced Learning. The computer game is designed to help elementary school age children improve their knowledge of English, science and math through hands-on experiences.

*  Greater Lafayette Area Special Services. Its assistive technology product is called Project Light Up Keyboard, or LUKe. The item is designed to help students with disabilities learn the computer keyboard.

*  The Center for the Environment showcase team. Its product, called The Green Battery Box, helps recycle spent batteries.

Other EPICS teams competing in the event are from San Jose State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of California-San Diego, Butler University in Indianapolis, and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. The social entrepreneurial showcase teams are from Stanford University, Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., and the University of Illinois at Urbana.

"This is the second year we have held the national competition at another university," Clement said. "Last year San Jose State University held the program, and we had nine teams from various EPICS programs around the nation competing in the event.

"It was a positive experience for all involved because it helped raise awareness of how students can use their engineering and entrepreneurial skills to design products that can help society."

Teams are judged on their product's technology and the prototype or conceptual plan and how the product can meet a societal need. Prizes for the national competition are $15,000 for first place, $8,000 for second place and $2,000 for third place. Showcase teams are not eligible to win a cash award.

The EPICS Entrepreneurship Initiative is supported by Purdue's Discovery Park, Purdue's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Cypress, HP, Hollister Inc., Krieg Devault LLP, Lilly Endowment Inc., NCIIA, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192,

Source: Nancy Clement, (765) 494-9884, (765) 414-3938 (cell),

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

To the News Service home page

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Purdue News Service at