About EPIC

Our Mission

EPIC-Engineering Possibilities in College shares Cal Poly’s College of Engineering mission “to educate students for careers of service, leadership, and distinction in engineering or other fields by using a Learn by Doing, hands-on approach." As one of the college’s outreach programs, EPIC aims to facilitate a participant’s exploration of engineering fields and build a community of like-minded individuals.

Our History

EPIC-Engineering Possibilities in College summer camp began in 2007 with 20 middle/high school female students as a Cal Poly student half-day camp project. Since then, EPIC has expanded to include six annual sessions accommodating over 800 participants each year. Each week/session is offered for either Middle School or High School students respectively. Sessions are offered both residential and virtual giving participants an opportunity to experience campus life and the ability to envision themselves as college students.

Hands-On Labs

At EPIC, participants explore the world of engineering through live virtual and in-person engineering labs. Participants learn about the fields of engineering through hands-on labs taught by university professors and industry professionals. They will have the opportunity to design, build, and test their own engineering project!

Engineering topics/classes 

Note: Some of these will be offered only in some sessions/weeks. Please check out the EPIC 2022 tab for more information.

Title Description Engineering Fields Session
Activities to Understand and Feel the Measuring Units Understanding and Sensing of measuring units have an important role in developing engineering equipment and creating inventions. Students will engage in activities that enrich and foster the sense skill and understanding of the measuring units such as Newton, Joule, Watt, Horsepower (HP), in addition to the measuring units of Length, Mass and Density. Physics concepts in estimating quantities such as Length, Area, Volume, Density, Force, Power, etc. without using the measuring tools will be covered. They will also learn about the difference between Area Moment of Inertia and the Mass Moment of Inertia and how to calculate the maximum power of the machine. Aerospace, Biomedical, Civil,    Electrical, General, Mechanical 2, 6
AI/Data Science/Biomedical Data Science/etc Coming soon! Computer Science, Software 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
Cardiovascular System: Vessels and Disease Students will learn methods of auscultatory and oscillometric blood pressure Biomedical 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Crash Course on Python Or Data Science/Machine Learning with Examples Students will learn an introduction to Python programming and how to manipulate data sets and build small projects working collaboratively. They will collect data, record it and build a classifier. Computer Science 1
Design of a Green City In this workshop, students imagine they have a space area of 50 square km close to the sea or the ocean and will use the suitable drawing scale to plan, sketch and design an environmentally friendly city in this area. They will use various clean energy resources to provide the city with the required clean power for living in it while using some method of water desalination to obtain the freshwater. They will learn about renewable energy resources and participate in activities that enrich and foster the sense and understanding of the measuring units such as Newton, Joule, Watt, and Horsepower (HP). In addition, they will learn engineering concepts that help in their project for designing clean energy resources and seawater desalination. Students will be divided into groups and do brainstorming to get new ideas for designing Green City, sketch the ideas, and go through the different steps to draw an integrated Green City. The instructor will do a competition among student groups for the best design for drawing of the Green City.

Aerospace, Architectural, Civil, 

Computer, Electrical, Environmental, General, Industrial, Mechanical

Design of Heavy Equipment (Cranes) Heavy equipment or heavy machinery refers to heavy-duty vehicles, specially designed for executing construction tasks such as cranes. Cranes are machines that play a vital role in various engineering applications and the construction industry because they have enough power to move materials of various weights upward, downward, and horizontally. During the first meeting of this workshop, students will learn about engineering concepts that help them design their cranes such as the center of gravity, the mass moment of inertia, the stability conditions, and the maximum power of the crane. They will be divided into groups and do a brainstorm to get new ideas for crane design, sketch the ideas and go through the different steps of the design process in order to establish a simplified prototype for a crane. Each group of students will build their design with maximum dimensions of crane body of (20x5x20 in) by using the coffee stirrer sticks of certain dimensions, two small DC motors, small pulleys, string, small wax gun, etc. Students will present their final projects or display what they have learned and the instructor will do a competition among student groups for the best design of a simplified prototype for heavy equipment which should be stable during lifting of the maximum weight and have a good performance. Aerospace,  Civil,        Industrial, Manufacturing, Materials, Mechanical 3
Do more with less! Design and run your own production line. You can apply these skills at home to make your chores go faster or earn yourself a promotion at your current job! Industrial 5, 6
Eco Composite materials Surfboard Students are introduced to the composite wet layup process by being part of a hands-on project. They will design and make their own surfboard design by shaping their foam block to a specific surfboard design. After the foam is sanded to the desired shape, students will then mix up the epoxy and apply it to the dry fibers. The wet fibers will be laid upon the surfboard. Then they will be introduced to the composite vacuum bag process. The surfboards will be placed in a vacuum bag where all the air will be pulled out. Lastly, they will test different kinds of composite box beams to test for the strongest and the lightest Civil,  Mechanical 6
Engine Dissection and Reassembly The purpose of this lab is to learn about the components of a four-stroke gasoline engine, and how they work together to form a functioning machine. The lab is comprised of two stages, disassembly and identification of parts, and reassembly with an eye toward how the function of one part affects the function of another. The primary areas of interest are the cylinder, connecting rods, and crankshaft, as well as the valves with associated cams, lifters, and camshaft. Students will also learn the overall operation of an engine, following the progression of the four strokes (intake, compression, combustion, exhaust). Once completed, students should consider why certain design decisions were made (the shape of the cams, etc) to further explore the concept of the design process. Mechanical 4
Exploring Fire Protection We will explore the fundamentals of fire science and fire protection engineering, including demonstrations of fire safety and assessments of fire protection systems. Students will design their own small-scale fire protection system and test it. Architectural, Civil,    Materials, Fire Protection 2, 3, 4
Exploring the World of Nanotechnology Through simple hands-on lab exercises, the students will learn about the fundamental of nanotechnology. The students will explore the nanoscale, the types of nanostructures and their unique properties, and the tools for seeing and characterizing materials at the nanoscale. The students will have fun making some nanoparticles of different types and surface properties. They will also learn about the applications of nanotechnology in cleaning the environment from pollutants and providing safe drinking water to people in need, especially in developing countries. The potential risks associated with the wide spectrum of applications of nanotechnology will also be discussed. Environmental, Materials 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Fresh Water Percentage on Earth In this workshop, the students will learn about the different sources of water on Earth, how to measure the water density and salinity and draw a chart for the percentage of freshwater to saline water on Earth. During the first meeting of this workshop, we will review up-to-date inventions for seawater desalination and do activities that enrich and foster the understanding of the measuring units of water density and water salinity. In addition, students will learn about engineering concepts and physics theories that help them brainstorm in creating new ideas for the desalination of Ocean water.
Students will present their final projects or display their new ideas for seawater desalination After finishing this project students realize the great importance of keeping fresh water on Earth especially in California.
Civil, Environmental, General, Mechanical 5
Fun with micro:bits Series of labs using the micro:bit Computer Science, Computer, Electrical 2,3 4, 5, 6
Fun with rockets! Let's get fired up about Aerospace Engineering. Learn how engineers design, build and fly airplanes, rockets, and spaceships. Build your own model rocket, predict the altitude it will reach, and then launch it yourself to verify your prediction. Aerospace 3, 4, 5, 6
Glider Workshop and Composite Material Testing In this workshop, each student will have the opportunity to design, build and test their very own glider. Under the supervision and guidance of EPIC counselors, students will be introduced to aerospace fundamentals of stability, control, structures, and aerodynamics and how these fundamentals pertain to glider manufacturing and design. Students will have the chance to plan and build their own gliders via composites and various other materials available to them. The goal of the glider workshop is to expose students to Cal Poly’s ‘learn by doing’ environment and to promote a fun and exciting learning environment via a hands-on aerospace engineering project. Aerospace, Mechanical 3
How long will your helicopter stay in the air? Design a paper helicopter and collect data about its flight time. You'll be able to modify your design (rotor length, weight) to see if you can improve the helicopter performance. You'll use data to predict and improve the performance of your helicopter. Industrial, Manufacturing 4
Light rail transit route Design a route to connect two points in a fictional urban setting, considering activity centers and street configurations. Civil,     Planning,   Urban Design 2,3 4, 5, 6
Mechatronics Lab and Programing This lab will introduce students to the basic functions of a microcontroller. Groups will be able to program and control a POL.E, which is a specially built robot on wheels. The first part of the lab is identifying the components that make up the robot, from the power switch to the pins and control board. The next step is learning how to set POL.E in motion through writing BASIC command code. This will be accomplished by first running through a sample code, which will demonstrate what each command does, then progressing to having the students write their own simple program for POL.E. A course will be mapped out on the floor for the robot to follow; the challenge will be for each group to get their POL.E to navigate the course. Mechanical, Software 2
Popsicle Stick Bridges Students glue together wooden popsicle sticks with hot glue guns to dimensions are about 12” x 2”, and one popsicle high. The students are suggested to think about which way to assemble the bridges in order to resist a bending load placed at the center. After the popsicle stick assemblies are finished students are taught how to do a wet composite layup. The composite material is cut for them and mix the specified amounts of resin and harder to make the epoxy. Once mixed it is spread onto the dry fiber and distributed evenly. Then the composite is wrapped around the popsicles sticks and vacuumed using a food saver pump. The bridges are left under pressure overnight so that the epoxy cures. The bridges are placed on top of two resting points about 9” apart and loaded till failure in the center using the Instron machine. The second project involves making a truss-type bridge spans the reaction points. Once again the hot glue gun is used to assemble the sticks. After they are built they are loaded in the same manner as the first project. Before all testing is done the bridges are weighed and then the failure force is compared to the rest. A ratio of failure force over mass in grams is a good way to compare the bridges. Civil,  Mechanical 1, 5
Rube Goldberg Machine Students will go through a variety of hands-on projects to learn about the world of computers, software, and electronics. They will learn about microcontrollers, writing software, read sensors and control hardware, and constructing a mechanical apparatus. Computer Science, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Shining a Light on Solar Energy The sun is your best friend if you know how to use it!
How is energy captured from the sun? How sustainable are solar panels? These questions and many others will be answered, as students learn to align photovoltaic panels with the sun for optimal energy capture. Students will be instructed about basic circuits and determine the efficiency of solar energy capture in multiple forms. These hands-on activities will enhance critical thinking, collaborative and creative thinking skills while exposing students to STEM concepts and renewable energy technologies. Instruction will culminate with the design and testing of solar thermal capture with solar ovens.
BioResource and Agricultural, Electrical, Environmental, Materials 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Snap Circuits Participants will learn about Electrical and Mechanical Engineering while having a hands-on introduction to electronics, learn how to construct real working circuits, devices, and fiber optics. Electrical, Mechanical 1, 2, 4
So how does recycling work, anyway? Students will learn how the properties of materials are used to design recycling processes for products that range from plastic bottles to rare earth metals in computer hard drives. Students will then apply that knowledge to design and conduct their own recycling process. Materials 3, 5, 6

Social Activities

EPIC isn’t all work and no play. Participants will have the opportunity to make new friends during virtual activities that may include home scavenger hunts, talent show, Kahoot games, and spirit competitions.

Residential program students will enjoy bowling, swimming, rock wall climbing, and using the university recreation center. 



Program Dates

  • Session 1   June 13-17           Rising 6th-12th Grade   (Virtual Program ONLY) 
  • Session 2   June 19-24           Rising 9th-12th Grade     (Residential)               
  • Session 3   June 26-July 1     Rising 9th-12th Grade   (Residential) 
  • Session 4   July 5-8                Rising 6th-8th Grade   (Residential)  
  • Session 5   July 10-15            Rising 9th-12th Grade    (Residential)
  • Session 6   July  17-22           Rising 9th-12th Grade    (Residential)

Grades are based on Fall 2022 enrollment. Students who have graduated H.S. are not eligible to apply.

Eligibility Criteria

Acceptance into EPIC is based on the essay written, interest to learn about engineering, and indication student has applied themselves to their studies based on g.p.a, classes taken, and extracurricular activities. The EPIC program does its best to determine which students will gain the most from the program. 

Requirements for the virtual program: Students must have access to a computer, reliable internet, and a non-school district-issued email address.

Application Process

To apply, click on the APPLY button on the Home page. The application will require general family and student information along with a no longer than 250 words (1 page) essay answering why they would like to attend EPIC. Students must have a non-school issues email address listed on the application. A parent email address may be used for students as long as the students will have access to the emails sent from EPIC. Although the program is not first-come-first-serve, we strongly encourage you to apply early and submit before the deadline if you are applying for a need-based scholarship. 

Applicants do not need to submit a letter of recommendation or send in transcripts. There is also no fee to apply. Payment is submitted once the applicant is admitted to the program.

2022 Registration Fee

Virtual Program $550

  • Fee includes all programming and engineering kit.
  • Live two-hour Monday-Friday Virtual Engineering class 
  • Daily live virtual office hours to help with engineering project 
  • Live virtual speakers: Cal Poly Admissions, Industry Speaker, College Life, Engineering Majors, Engineering Student Panels 
  • Live virtual Social Events: Scavenger hunt, talent show, and more 
  • Virtual Tours: Cal Poly, College of Engineering, and Housing 



High School Residential Program $1,850

Middle School Residential Program $1,650

  • Fee includes all engineering class programming and kit.
  • Monday-Thursday Engineering Classes and Friday activities
  • Engineering week group project 
  • Speaker Series: Cal Poly Admissions, Industry Speaker, College Life, Engineering Majors, Engineering Student Panels 
  • Social Events: Scavenger hunt, talent show, recreation center, pool, movie night, bowling
  • Tours: Cal Poly, College of Engineering, and Housing 



EPIC offers partial scholarships to campers based on financial need. We strongly encourage participants to apply for a need-based scholarship as soon as possible as funds are very limited.


ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THE RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM to and from the San Luis Obispo airport. Transportation can be arranged only on Sunday of check-in and Friday after check out. Once admitted please email EPIC if you plan to fly into the San Luis Obispo airport.

Admission Criteria

Decisions are made based on the essay written, interest to learn about engineering, and indication student has applied themselves to their studies based on g.p.a., classes taken, and extracurricular activities. The EPIC program does its best to determine which students will gain the most from the program.

Requirements: Students must have access to a computer, reliable internet, and a non-school district-issued email address. Only for students who apply for the virtual program.

Deadline to Confirm Attendance

Attendance will be confirmed by submitting payment. Please submit payment by the deadline provided in the admission email. 


Participants who are admitted from the waitlist will have a week from the admitted date to accept, complete registration, and finalize payment. 

Payment Deadline

The payment deadline will be stated in the admission email along with the scholarship code if one has been awarded. The discount will be applied to the registration fee. All payments must be made online using a credit card. Checks are not accepted. Participants who fail to pay by the deadline will be dropped. 

Participants who wish to cancel their registration must follow the cancellation policy. Cancellations must be made in writing at least 15 days prior to the event start date in order to receive a refund. $200 minimum registration fee and 3% credit processing fee is non-refundable.

More Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page for more information. If you still have questions, email us at epic@calpoly.edu.

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