25, No. 17, March 16, 2006
New facility to feature senior
Rick Kubetz, Office of Engineering Communications
photo to enlarge
by RIck Kubetz
project Engineering student
Ray Bejjani, left, works with Michael Davidsaver
of the Aerial Robotics Club on an autonomously
controlled helicopter at the new Engineering
Student Projects Laboratory.
Tucked away on the College
of Engineering campus, the new Engineering Student Projects Laboratory,
1021 W. Western Ave., Urbana, is the new home for one of the university’s
most innovative undergraduate instructional programs – the Interdisciplinary
Design Program, managed by the Engineering Design Council. The facility
was dedicated March 10 as part of the 86th Engineering Open House.
“The Engineering Student Projects Laboratory will serve as a showroom for
many of the projects completed over the past few years,” said Myron Salamon,
associate dean for administrative affairs at the College of Engineering. “It
will also provide dedicated workspace for current students, as well as showing
our sponsors what can be accomplished.”
At the dedication, Salamon was joined by Keith Hjemlstad, associate dean for
academic programs, and Harry Wildblood, chair of the Engineering Design Council.
Jiang J. Yu, a junior in aerospace engineering and an active member of Engineering
Initiatives, also was recognized for helping name the building as part of a student
contest last fall.
Engineering students are typically required to complete a semester of hands-on,
team-based work in collaboration with an industry sponsor and faculty adviser
from one or more departments. The Engineering Design Council provides matching
support for those projects that are interdisciplinary, involving students from
several departments. Award-winning capstone projects include a hybrid electric
car, the Sunrayce solar car, and a better baby bottle.
“One of the compelling features of the Senior Design Program is the opportunity
for large and small firms to take advantage of the latest research and technology
that is available,” Salamon said. Program sponsors include corporations
such as 3M, Boeing, Caterpillar, Ford Motor Co., General Electric, Hewlett Packard,
John Deere and many smaller regional companies.
“Most importantly, this is not just a showroom, but also a workspace where
interdisciplinary teams can meet and work on their projects. I think this space
is a reflection of the nature of Engineering at Illinois, and the variety of
work being done here,” Salamon said.
While department-centered senior design projects provide valuable experiences
for all students, team-based, multidisciplinary projects prepare students for
“Students and faculty members benefit by solving problems in a real-world
situation,” Wildblood said. “That environment cannot be duplicated
in the classroom.”
Encompassing approximately 7,000 square feet, the laboratory includes the showroom,
space for team meetings, computer workstations, plus clean and “dirty” workspaces.
The Engineering Design Council, a group of representatives from each of the departments
within the college, provided input on the floor plan and the building.
“Primarily, we wanted to stay flexible on how we might use the building–moveable
partitions, a clean room, and open workspace,” explained Peter Lenzini,
a lecturer and undergraduate advisor in civil and environmental engineering,
and former Engineering Design Council chair. The intent of the building is to
replace two temporary facilities, and provide a permanent space.
“The Design Council promotes interdisciplinary design which brings together
different departments within the college,” Lenzini said. “The groups
currently work in whatever space they can find, either in their own departments
or the buildings we have. Some of these groups will be able to use the space
in this new facility.”
Several projects are slated for inclusion in the new facility. The ION Cubesat
project – the university’s first student-built satellite, launched
in October 2005 – will be on display as well two hybrid electric vehicles – originally
produced for the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge and FutureCar Challenge competitions – plus
a hydraulic bicycle that recently won the Parker Hannifin Chainless Challenge.
The laboratory is between Daniels Graduate Hall and the Engineering Sciences
Building, just east of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory. The
new structure is an addition to the Aerodynamics Laboratory facility already
on that site.