The IEEE Student Branch at Oakton Community College was the only student branch in the Chicago Section to receive an EPICS Challenge grant for this year. Their year round temperature and moisture controlled community garden is in progress on the college grounds. Their goal is for the community to use a community garden, which will reduce the carbon footprint, and introduce new healthy practices.

The students were treated to a visit by Samarth Deo, EPICS Coordinator, who stopped by the school to meet the students on his was back to Sweden from the Board Series in Vancouver. After touring the project and listening to the plans for the garden, Samarth treated the students to lunch were they continued the conversation. Both Chloe Richmond, Chair, and Epiphany Sosa, Chair Elect 2023, explained that the visit was a major encouragement to the students.

The EPICS in IEEE Environmental Competition successfully selected, launched, and supported ten environmental-focused projects from eight different US-based institutions. Launching this competition in the winter of 2022 was critical as students were eager to get back to hands-on learning outside their classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic-mandated hiatus. The students involved in this competition are incredibly passionate about using their technical skills to mitigate and address the impact of climate change.

EPICS is funded primarily by the Foundation although there are private donors who underwrite programs.

The students worked with the Oakton Environmentalist to design a greenhouse so they could control temperature and moisture allowing food to be grown all year round. Only TEN grants were awarded for this Challenge IEEE-wide.

The students worked with garden people to design their proposal and later to design and build their greenhouse and the circuitry to control it. They wrote their own proposal with minimal outside help.

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