and water purification for impoverished countries, among
the dozens of active projects.
Liberal Arts students are critical to projects, explains
Buzzanell, because they often engage with human-centered
engineering design, focusing more on the ways potential
users express their needs and the context in which the
design would be situated. They demonstrate expertise
in their liberal arts orientation to the social, ethical, and
cultural aspects of a project, but are also fully involved in
the technical solutions.
Buzzanell has worked closely with students through
EPICS, giving them the building blocks necessary to
succeed in the program and later in life. “We have
leadership moments on an everyday basis that we can
enact,” Buzzanell says.
Buzzanell doesn’t subscribe to those one-liner
motivational sayings, but she has a lot of ideas about the
qualities of good leadership. And those qualities change
with the leader, those being led, and the situation.
There are a few key ingredients to leadership that she
believes are especially important—and these are the tools
she hopes students have when they finish their time
Leaders talk. They give direction. They delegate to others.
But Buzzanell says none of that can happen effectively
unless leaders first listen to those around them.
“The leaders I respect are those who work closely with
people, create a vision with them, and are always listening.
They draw people in,” Buzzanell says. “It’s understanding
what your own and others’ capabilities are and how
you can create interactions that are good for you, good
for the people you’re interacting with, and good for
That was a key lesson for Taylor McCanna, a junior
aeronautical and astronautical engineering student.
McCanna worked with Buzzanell through EPICS and took
what she learned to her student co-op position with NASA.
At NASA, McCanna was asked to be an ambassador
for the other co-op students, serving as a sort of liaison
between them and human resources representatives. As
part of that assignment, she found that co-op students and
interns weren’t interacting with each other much. She found
out that interns in the program, who usually work for the
agency for only one term or even less, felt like they weren’t
as important as the co-op students, and resented it.
Kelly Bostrom (R), a 4th-year
sociology major, works with Carla
Zoltowski, co-director of EPICS, on
a sign for a sensory trail at Camp
Riley near Martinsville, Indiana. The
Camp Riley EPICS team is designing
ways for children with disabilities
to experience the many activities
of summer camp. Photo by John