Simply put, MechSE students are leaders in innovation. They set records in international student competitions. Their senior design projects are immediately implemented by sponsoring companies. They win campus-wide innovation contests, and they start successful businesses—often before graduation! The innovation-rich environment of the new MEB will equip our students for even greater success. This facility’s 3,000-square-foot Senior Design Project Studio and 6,000-square-foot Innovation and Design Commons—a 24/7 “maker space”—will inspire creativity and foster teamwork, opening up a world of possibilities and new ideas. Our students will work, interact, learn, play, and grow in an environment optimized for true innovation.

Always innovating

In June 2015, well-known inventor and innovator Elon Musk announced his SpaceX company is sponsoring a competition to see who could design the perfect Hyperloop pod. The Hyperloop is a conceptual high-speed transportation system that incorporates reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors.

This announcement resulted in a flurry of media attention around the globe for MechSE, where students already had made a working prototype with this technology.

In recent semesters, our Senior Design teams have tackled the challenge of designing a small-scale but functional prototype of a Hyperloop system. Another team of students will work on the project again next year and continue to make improvements.

“Small steps are the way to go,” said Carlos Pantano-Rubino, MechSE professor and advisor to these teams. “That is how engineers learn to build complicated things.”

Thanks to their innovative head-start, MechSE students will be invaluable assets to the University of Illinois team that’s forming for the 2016 SpaceX competition.

“The new Innovation and Design Commons will offer MechSE students opportunities for communication and exchange of ideas. We’ll learn the importance of teamwork as we collectively labor to meet both project deadlines and standards. Personally, I have gained practical experience in the present Innovation Studio, which I am certain will be beneficial towards becoming a control engineer.”

- Obinna Onyemepu (BSME ’16)