Engineering Psychiatry Research Program (EPRP)

The Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and the Jacobs School of Engineering recently partnered to launch the UC San Diego Center for Mental Health Technology (MHTech Center), including a new internship program for undergraduate and graduate engineering students this spring. This new program, called the Engineering and Psychiatry Research Program (EPRP), was developed out of a need for technological solutions to address mental health challenges. Mental disorders have a devastating global impact on quality of human life and society. According to the World Health Organization, mental disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcohol and drug use disorders) are the leading cause of disability worldwide, but less than 50% of people with mental disorders are identified and treated. In this program, psychiatry faculty mentor ECE student interns in developing an engineering solution to a mental health problem. Students receive research credit for their participation via ECE 199/299. 

Update: Information for the 2019 EPRP has been posted. Please see the following link for the timeline and application details: http://www.ece.ucsd.edu/undergraduate/EPRP

 The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Psychiatry faculty created MHTech projects to address unmet mental health challenges in clinical or research settings.
  • ECE students reviewed the project list and selected projects that met their interests and skill set.
  • Psychiatry faculty interviewed and selected students for their projects. 
  • Students met with their faculty mentors weekly during the spring quarter and completed monthly group presentations. 
  • Students also had access to tutors at the ECE Makerspace, Project-in-a-box (PiB), and PhD students and faculty in Machine Learning and Data Science.   
  • Students had the opportunity to continue with their projects over the summer via support of the Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP), and students are encouraged to continue in subsequent quarters. 

For the Spring 2018 program, 29 Engineering students enrolled in the EPRP to work on 14 unique projects. Fifty-seven percent of the students enrolled in the EPRP for 4 units, while the other 43% enrolled for 2 units. 

Participants included:

  • 8 Freshmen Students
  • 4 Sophomores Students
  • 12 Juniors Students
  • 2 Seniors Students
  • 3 Master's Level Students
  • 5 PhD Student Mentors
  • 1 Postdoctoral Fellow Mentor
  • 9 Psychiatry Faculty Mentors
  • Makerspaces and PiB Tutors 
  • IT Support from the Department of Psychiatry 

The EPRP was recently included in the 2018-2019 Electrical and Computer Engineering brochure.

EPRP page from brochure

Full ECE brochure