To fulfill the service learning component of the Grand Challenge program, I participated in three consecutive semesters of EPICS, or Engineering Projects in Community Service. I was enrolled in EPICS GOLD I, II, and III. EPICS is a service-based learning program in which students work to engineer solutions to problems in the community. Working alongside not-for-profit, community partners, students are given a platform to explore engineering through experiential and application-based learning.
During my three semesters in EPICS, I served as the Project Lead for the project FitStart Kids. Our mission was to leverage youth's fascination with technology by making exercise part of the world of virtual gaming. Through an incentive system that equated healthy lifestyle choices to game rewards, FitStart Kids directly integrated fitness into the gaming experience in order to encourage youth to live a healthy and active life. An initiative to combat the decrease in physical activity and increase in sedentary among youth, FitStart Kids was an opportunity to give kids a reason to stand up and get moving. The web-based FitStart Kids Portal acted as a direct channel between a youth and his or her favorite online, mobile, or console system game by “cashing in” steps to “buy” upgrades, bonuses, or new features in correlation with the game environment.