MechSE Department powered by its machine shop
The MechSE department has many moving parts that are necessary to make it work. An integral component of the entire system is the MechSE Machine Shop, now also being called the Master Maker Space.
The Illinois campus has seven separate machine shops, all managed by different departments. Although these shops work together to support the university any way they can, they are all individual entities. Currently in the MechSE shop, Dave Williams and Jeff Smith work as senior laboratory mechanics, Gary Sedberry as an instrument maker, and Kyle Cheek as the supervisor.
Cheek started working in the machine shop in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a laboratory mechanic and transferred to MechSE after working closely with then supervisor Keith Parrish. As the current supervisor, Cheek splits his time between machining and managing the logistics of the shop like billing, customer service, and materials orders.
MechSE’s design classes, design-based student societies, graduate students, research labs, and professors all utilize services from the machine shop with the shop completing an average of 15 projects per week. Not only do they machine parts and other solutions for students and faculty, but they also train students in welding and machining and consult on part design for manufacturing. Their wealth of experience makes them an invaluable resource for anyone attempting to build something, especially when it’s never been done before.
“That’s what we’re here for – to help the faculty get their projects done so they can continue to do exciting research, and to contribute to the education of our students,” Cheek said.
With Illinois as a top research institution and MechSE being one of the biggest engineering departments, the projects being developed here are quite varied. As a result, the work that’s asked of the machine shop staff is often very unique. The crew finds itself on the ground floor of progress within the department, often creating novel items for the purpose of the research.
Enabling classes, research, and student organizations, the MechSE machine shop is a powerful support system within the department to ensure a high-quality learning experience and competitive research.
The machine shop recently relocated to their new space in 118 Sidney Lu MEB.