SIUE unveils the latest mechatronics technology, robotics laboratory

SIUE unveils the latest mechatronics technology, robotics laboratory

(TNS) – Thursday night was an unforgettable night for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s School of Engineering (SOE).

A state-owned festivity has been unveiled for the renovated Enterprise Holdings Foundation Hall in the engineering building adjacent to the new robotics lab. The redesigned space is the product of a $1.5 million donation from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

“The Enterprise Holdings Foundation is one of our collaborating partners in the industry,” said Lisa Smith, director of development at SOEs. “Their donation made it possible to update the lobby with the necessary power outlets so that people can be connected at all times.

“We now have collaborative benches so our students can work together in teams and study together more effectively, and we have the new robotics labs,” she said. “We have a relatively new mechatronics engineering degree program and these guys, along with all the other engineering majors in the school, will be able to learn about robotics through the Enterprise Holdings Foundation gift.”

“When you walk in this space, it’s hard not to imagine what’s going to happen there,” said James T Minor, SIUE consultant. “It is great for our students to know that they will have an experience here that rivals any top university in the country.

“The robotics lab will prepare students for industry and we are doing this with an industry leader and industry partner at Enterprise Holdings,” he said. “The vast majority of SIUE graduates remain within a 50-mile radius after they graduate, and the idea that we will strengthen the workforce of the future is very attractive to our industry partners.”

One of the highlights of the event was a display of the LR Mate 200iD, an industry-leading robotic arm. The robot was donated to SIUE by HJ Family of Companies. On Thursday she was picking up and moving the letter “I” into a group of uppercase “SIUE”.

“It is a machine that is used in industry, and they gave it to us so that we could teach our students how to use it,” said Dr. Jagath Gunsaekera, Laboratory Director and Instructor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. “We also have a camera that takes pictures, and depending on the product and location, the robot can take them with the camera.

“We also have a Delta robot, and we bought another one of those to match it,” Gunsaekera said. “It is a faster robot, but it is more limited. It can be used to sort small things like almonds. In industry, you have almonds on a conveyor belt and the robot can sort almonds that are light for eating and dark for milking.”

SIUE has also purchased 13 ViperX 300 robotic arms to teach students the basic levels of robotics programming. Several other robots were shown on Thursday.

“I have been using this lab for the past month for our mechanical and industrial engineering classes,” Gunsaekera said. “Tonight’s event is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the capabilities of this lab, and especially to our donors, to show them what we used their money for.”

Dr. Cam Caracal, Professor of Industrial Engineering and Dean at SOE, was pleased with the possibility of the new facility.

“First of all, we are grateful to Enterprise Holdings for offering to support the College of Engineering,” said Caracal. “We had a major renovation, and we didn’t have a lot of spaces for our students to meet and collaborate on their projects.

“It’s always been a question of where and when the space was available, and now, they have these wonderful reconfigured spaces to have project discussions and share their ideas. The workspace has easily tripled, and it greatly enhances their experience.”

The lab was once an underutilized computer lab, Caracal said.

“We did major renovation work, removed the roof and completely renovated the interior,” Caracal said. “Everything has been done so that our students can get hands-on experience with robotics. Tonight’s event is an opportunity to share what Enterprise has done for us and what we plan to do at the facility.”

Enterprise has been recognized as one of the largest college recruiting firms in the United States, largely for hiring in the company’s popular management training program. Locally, Enterprise hires for its team of more than 2,000 IT professionals who work to build technology solutions that redefine how customers buy, rent and share vehicles.

It has partnered with state-owned companies for several years to connect students and alumni with career opportunities in the IT department. The partnership has created an ongoing talent pipeline to meet the changing demands of artistic talent.

The Enterprise Holdings Foundation was founded by Enterprise founder Jack Taylor in 1982 to provide the best for the communities in which partners and employees live and work. Since then, the foundation has contributed more than $592 million to thousands of local nonprofits focused on community improvement, education, and environmental stewardship. Commitments range from global philanthropic initiatives promoting social and racial justice to projects focused on critical conservation challenges.

Dr. Chris Gordon, Assistant Dean of SOE, Caracal shared his enthusiasm for the new Robotics Lab and Atrium.

“We are delighted to have this moment to celebrate our strong partnership with Enterprise Holdings,” Gordon said. “This is an exceptional lab and a way to showcase our students’ creativity, efforts, and some of the technological advancements that occur every day in the College of Engineering.

“Our students are known for having the practical knowledge and ability to do this, and this new robotics lab is another way we can make it happen. This is an opportunity for anyone who comes into the engineering building to see the magic that happens in our labs. The robotics lab is designed to open up to the community so you can see The robots under construction and the robots that are used as you walk, which is very inspiring.”

Huan Van Van, a graduate student at SIUE, demonstrated an omnidirectional robot he designed and built. Tracking sensors or cameras are used to help program the robot and prevent it from colliding with other objects.

“It’s omnidirectional because it can move linearly and rotate at the same time,” Van Van said. “I can program it to move one meter without turning, and I can program it to go back one meter and rotate so it faces the other direction.

“When I first made the robot, it was for research purposes only. But I continued to use it to teach students.”

Dr. Mingchao Zhang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanics and Mechatronics, demonstrated a small, self-guided car that was running on a course that was taught on the lab floor. The composites are part of the course project for Zhang’s MRE 320 class for engineering students.

“He’s finding the midfield and he’s going to stay on it,” Zhang said. “The car has a camera and every time it takes new pictures and based on the photo it decides where to go next. This is how you train it to follow the path.

“Not every robot is built perfectly, so you have to fine tune it to correct any problems,” Zhang said. “I drew the track to be steep with a lot of distractions. The students start to run it at slower speeds, but each student has their own robot and they will be able to race against each other using their own strategies and learn how to fine tune the run at their best.”

Seth Walker, the university’s vice president for undergraduate advancement, said the new facility enhances SIUE’s reputation as a destination for engineering students.

“It helps advance our efforts for everything related to students and they have more resources they can use for the collaboration space and real-world experience in the robotics lab,” Walker said. “Students also learn about a great local company at Enterprise Holdings and have a great entry into getting work with them.

“It is a brighter and more welcoming space for students to work together, and teamwork is an essential part of the college experience,” he said. “This event is an opportunity to honor Enterprise for its generous gift.” “It was introduced to us a couple of years ago, but because of COVID and everything else, it took a while to get all the sides done and get ready to cut the tape.”

© 2022 Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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