EPICS reflection from Alissa A. Cook (2005 Graduate, IMS Team Leader) :
I am not exaggerating when I say that joining EPICS was one of the best decisions I made in my early college career. Prior to joining EPICS, I was in the middle of the all-too-familiar catch 22, "You can't get a job without work experience, but you can't get work experience without a job." Also, there were the typical interview questions, "Tell me about a time when you worked on a TEAM," and "Tell me about the most interesting project you've worked on and a difficult problem you had to solve related to this project." Teamwork was not permitted in the CS core curriculum and it was difficult to translate one of our two to three week programs for CS 180 and CS 240 into a description of an "interesting project" that would sound impressive.
I joined EPICS for numerous reasons: to gain teamwork experience, to gain that "interesting project" to talk about, and to solve that work experience dilemma, as EPICS projects can fit nicely in the "Experience"
section of a resume. EPICS provided all of these things plus providing a wealth of technical knowledge that is not included in the CS core curriculum, including detailed understanding of levels of Abstraction and Web Technologies. EPICS finally gave me something to talk about in interviews that sets me apart. I am confident that EPICS is the one thing on my resume that opened the door for me to get my first internship. EPICS has given more to me than I have given to it, and four semesters later, I still consider it one of the most valuable things I do at Purdue.
EPICS reflection from John Horst (Junior, HFH Project Leader) :
I started in EPICS as a second semester freshman, the team I was on was composed of two seniors in ECE and one in CS. I had never had the opportunity to work on a programming project in a group environment before.
At first it was difficult to determine where I would fit in to the grand scheme of our project, it had been in development for several years and was for a large national non-for-profit organization, and how to interact with my teammates. Eventually, I was put in charge of a portion of the project.
It was my responsibility to research how to accomplished the objective and coordinate my efforts with another university which was also working on the project. Finally, at the end of the semester I helped to present our project to the national organization. This year as a sophomore I am the project leader for the same project I worked on last semester. I am responsible for the tasking and organizing of the project team as well as ensuring that we are making progress. EPICS has given me practical "real world" experience in dealing with a customer, communication both written and oral, working on an interdisciplinary project, and managing a software project. It also has taught me the value of one of the most maligned areas of software development, documentation. Working on a multi-year, multi-person project documentation is a must, at several stages we have lost significant progress on the project due to the lack of supporting documentation. By teaching practices such as the use of design notebooks EPICS forces you to fully explore what your options are to solve a specific problem and to explain why you chose a specific implementation or technology over another. I believe EPICS is an excellent complement to the CS curriculum and will teach you many skills that will make you better a CS student.