EPIC hosts EpCon conference in Waterloo

Technology-oriented students, professionals and academics joined together this past weekend to participate in EpCon, an inaugural conference at the Waterloo Inn hosted by EPIC, a student-run organization.

EPIC, an acronym for “educate, promote, inspire, connect,” is a not-for-profit organization intended to impact and excite students who have a passion for technology and innovation.

Representatives from various universities, such as the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, have collaborated on the initiative, forming partnerships between students, academics and business leaders who are also engaged through EPIC.

“EpCon really provides a platform for these people to come together and share their ideas,” said third-year Laurier business student and EPIC executive member Lucas Lu.

“Our mandate is to connect students with technologies and also with industry experts in the technological field.”

The two days of EpCon featured a series of keynote speakers, short power talks and breakout sessions during which delegates had a more personal seminar experience with a variety of speakers and presentation topics.

There were also a number of special events, including an exhibition of industry leading technological advancements, panel forums and Elympics – events that challenged delegates to be tech-savvy through technology-focused competitions.

Amulya Raja, a third-year UW systems design engineering student and EPIC project manager, explained that the inspiration for initiating EPIC sprouted from the founders’ realization of the shortcomings associated with their participation in other conferences.

She noted that most conferences, despite being exciting two-day interactive and informative events, lack the follow-up necessary to enable lasting connections and growth.

EpCon also emphasizes the creation of partnerships between students and experts for the long-term.

Raja expressed hopes of developing a network between conference participants to “bring them together to really collaborate, share information and actually work beyond the two days and form a community.”

EPIC was also excited to launch Ei3, a think-tank initiative to engage issues, ideas and innovation.

According to Raja, “The idea is to really work with our corporate sponsors and companies, engage some of their employees and to bring out students to talk about global problems.”

Ei3 member, Lu stated, “It is a new initiative that focuses on connecting the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

He explained that the “haves” are the technologically privileged, while the “have-nots” are the less privileged. The purpose of Ei3 is to tackle these social issues and “connect the gap together by using technologies and leveraging what we have … in a creative way.”

Lu highlighted the power of social media and noted that many are excluded from the phenomenon of connectivity.

“In Ei3 we will look at different ways to use these social platforms and apply them to the lives of the less privileged people and help them with their issues.”

Although EPIC has been focusing on EpCon and has not had an opportunity to formulate plans for other upcoming events, members expressed high expectations for the future, with hopes to expand and be able to influence and educate more people, especially students.

According to Lu, “A future plan would be to make EPIC even more epic.”

EPIC technology organization

  • Launched in 2009
  • Led by students from technology schools across Canada
  • Acts as a student network for those interested in technology
  • Hosts interactive events for students and industry leaders to communicate