Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) (http://epics.ecn.purdue.edu) is a program that organizes university and high-school / secondary school students to work on engineering-related projects for local area humanitarian organizations. An IEEE New Initiatives Committee (NIC) pilot project has successfully shown how EPICS can be integrated with IEEE in the Philadelphia Section and South Africa Section.
The purpose of this new initiative was to further incorporate EPICS into IEEE by empowering student branches to work with high school students on EPICS community service-related engineering projects.
The IEEE Student Branch, University of Cape Town (UCT), was one such student branch that participated in the pilot project in South Africa.
Wind speed varies between 20 and 30 m/s in the Western Cape and therefore enables this South African province to be classified as a wind power density class 2 or class 3 region (150 to 200 W/m2). Over the past decade, wind power has generated significant research and development interest in the Western Cape, and the interest also exists at both high schools as well as higher education institutes, such as UCT. It was for this reason that the IEEE UCT student branch proposed an EPICS-High project, which aimed at developing a wind power turbine out of scrap material. A prototype was constructed, which delivered some 50 W of power.
The technical work for the project was lead by Justin Alvey. The project was aligned to Justin’s final year undergraduate project, and the technical intellectual property belongs to the creator, in this case, the UCT.
Two schools participated in the project: Thandokhulu Secondary School and Westerford Secondary School. While the two schools are nearby, the two schools have quite a different background. In South African terms, Thandokhulu Secondary School is classified as a previously disadvantaged school, but has made considerable progresses over the past few years, recognized by a Ministerial award in 2002. Westerford Secondary School ranks in one of the top secondary schools in South Africa, 2009. The EPICS-High project enabled, not only for a scientific and technical bond, but also to develop a cultural synergy.
As the academic year (2009) came to an end, the IEEE EPICS-High initiative also came to an end at the Student Branch, UCT, however plans for 2010 were also documented in a report, compiled by a team lead by Nana-Ampofo Ampofo-Anti. The report indicates a potential interest to install the developed turbine in a rural South African community, and also an interest towards registering as an “EPICS University” (as proposed by Purdue University), in 2010.
Nana is a Master’s student of Electrical Engineering, and also an IEEE Graduate Student Member. Nana also chairs the Projects Committee: IEEE Student Branch, UCT. In this capacity, Nana successfully lead the EPICS-High project at UCT.
The project enabled for a fresh and new appreciation of the Western Cape breeze, as a source of renewable energy.
The IEEE South Africa Section appreciates the grant (US $12,500) from the IEEE NIC, which enabled for this first phase of the IEEE EPICS-High project in South Africa.