USI’s newest building has something no other company or university in North America has.
The Applied Engineering Center, which will be used by engineering students for hands-on experience, is 16,000 square feet and cost $3.3 million.
The center is the only laboratory in North America that is equiped with Festo technology.
It also contains modern and large equipment such as the same welding robot used by Toyota.
The center was constructed by Arc Construction and designed by Three Eye Design, where many USI graduates were a part of the design team.
Mark Rozewski, vice president for Finance and Administration, said the equipment in the center was funded through grants.
“We asked for grants for new equipment awhile back and we are just now getting them,” he said. “The university decided to cover the cost for the building due to the lack of space for the new equipment.”
The equipment was originally going to go in the lower level of the tech center on campus, but the space was too small.
Associate Professor of Engineering Zane Mitchell said this equipment is more modern than what the students have been working with.
“It will give students hands-on experience before they graduate,” Mitchell said. “Students will have the ability to work with similar machinery that factories around the tri-state area offer.”
Mitchell said the students will be able to work with many types of materials.
“Students will get to see how an assembly lines works and work with different materials such as plastics, metals and woods.” Mitchell said.
Zach Mathis, junior mechanical engineering major, said that the center will help students “get the edge.”
“One of the things I’m most interested in is the modularity of the new equipment,” Mathis said. “Students should be able to change between plastics, metals and woods for manufacturing, which will help in giving them a well-rounded understanding of the processes.”
Mathis said the new center will not only help engineering majors gain experience, but will also help USI as a university.
“The job placement rates will almost certainly go up, bringing more prestige to the university,” Mathis said. “One potential opportunity for businesses could be to contract with students or classes to do design or small-scale production work at a reduced rate.”
The Applied Engineering Center is expected to be open to students by Fall 2013.