Groundbreaking marks transformational moment in department history
MechSE students, alumni, faculty, campus officials, and special guests were in attendance Friday, October 12, for the department’s historic groundbreaking celebration of the Mechanical Engineering Building.
Under a tent at Green St. and Goodwin Ave., one of the busiest intersections on campus, the ceremony kicked off the extensive renovation of 60,000 square feet of MEB and construction of a 25,000 square foot addition.
Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones helped celebrate the event, along with Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Andreas Cangellaris, College of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Martin Wong, and MechSE Department Head Anthony Jacobi.
“This isn’t just about laying a physical foundation. It is about the educational and scholarly opportunities for our students and our faculty, not only for the years to come, but for generations to come. This is certainly a transformational moment, both for this corner and for the future of innovation and discovery at this great university,” said Jones.
The project—“Transform MEB”—is MechSE’s largest undertaking ever, with an estimated cost of $41 million. Once completed, it is expected to bolster the department’s place among the nation’s elite engineering programs. The reconfigured MEB will feature active-learning classrooms and a state-of-the-art complex of integrated, instructional, and project laboratories. With nearly 7,000 square feet of makerspace, the new spaces will inspire creativity and foster teamwork, giving MechSE students greater opportunities to work, interact, and learn in an environment optimized for true innovation. The addition will include a 3,000 square foot open-design student center and will feature a coffee shop as well as dedicated space for projects, meetings, corporate events, and more.
“We are here to celebrate the new Mechanical Engineering Building today because the Lu family embraced the opportunities at Illinois,” said Cangellaris, introducing Illinois alumnus Sidney Lu (BS Mechanical Engineering ’81, BS Mathematics ’81), who has given generously to the project. Lu’s mother, Tungchao Julia Lu, brought her children to Champaign-Urbana from Taiwan in the 1970s to receive an education at the University of Illinois. Lu has previously honored his mother’s impact on his life with the Tungchao Julia Lu Professorship in MechSE.
“The person I thank the most is my mother, who had the foresight to bring us kids here for a great education. And along the way, all my mentors, my professors—Professor B T Chao, Professor Soo, Professor Yao, Professor Miller—the names go on and on. I can’t thank enough all the great teachers that have touched my life. I’m here with gratitude, with pride, and with joy. Hopefully, with this, we have planted the seed – for learning, for innovation, and for collaboration,” said Lu, who was joined by his wife Jenny Lu, brother Chris Lu, and many family and friends from across the country and the world.
Construction is scheduled to conclude in summer 2021, with classes beginning in the new MEB that fall.
Guest of honor Sidney Lu showed this video at the celebration, honoring his late mother, Tungchao Julia Lu.
See additional coverage of the event from the News-Gazette.