Spotlight Projects

  • Group rises to the occasion to help disabled students

    Dec 15, 2016

    F&S elevator mechanics, Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES), and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) received the 2016 Larine Y. Cowan Excellence in Access and Accommodations award sponsored by the University of Illinois Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access.

    The group was nominated by DRES Director Pat Malik for their Wireless Elevator Remote Control (WERC) project.

    “I thought it was remarkable that three very different units could come together and do something like this,” Malik said.

    The project was initiated in 2007 when former elevator foreman Jeff Miller noted that many students with severe physical disabilities were unable to independently access the buttons within an elevator due to reasons such as the elevator being too small for a wheelchair to turnaround or the student not having the reach or dexterity to utilize the controls.

    The WERC project design was twofold. First, ECE worked with the elevator mechanics to create an antenna that could interact with the various electrical configurations found in lifts. Then the department had to design the call boxes.

    Coleman Award WinnerFitting an elevator with wireless controls begins when Malik identifies a building as one a disabled student needs to access. Next, she submits a work order to the Elevator Shop, which places an antenna on the lift to allow a WERC to interact with the elevator’s internal controls.

    While that’s happening, a disability specialist at Beckwith Residential Support Services works with the student to determine what type of call box would work best for him or her. ECE then creates a remote control with the necessary individual features, which can range from simple buttons to voice activation. The original plans called for the elevators to be controlled with a mobile device application, but the group found out that someone else already had a patent on such an application.

    Currently there are 31 campus elevators which are accessible for those who need to use a remote control call box. More will be added as the need arises or funding is available.

    “We have a really good team of people,” Malik said. “We’ve had our bumps and bruises, but we figured things out together as a team. And everyone who worked on this project did so above and beyond their normal job responsibilities.”

  • Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory Clean Room

    Oct 31, 2016

    Everitt Clean RoomConstruction of a new “clean room” at the Micro and Nano Technology Laboratory was the highlight of the first nine months of work on the University of Illinois’ College of Engineering Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) project, the largest of its kind on campus to date. EPC's are negotiated with a provider who guarantees the energy savings produced by the project will be sufficient to cover its full cost.

    The $41M College of Engineering venture is 40% complete 10 months into its two-year construction schedule. Work on the Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, Loomis Laboratory, the Engineering Sciences Building, and the Superconductivity Center is also included in the project, whose emphasis is improving infrastructure and addressing deferred maintenance.

    One of the more visible parts of the project was the clean room, a laboratory maintained free of contaminants, such as dust or bacteria. The new space replaced another in Everitt Laboratory that closed last fall because of renovations to that building.

    Clean room construction began in January and had to be finished by the time classes started in August. The new clean room houses the Electrical and Computer Engineering 444 Fabrication Lab class and is used to teach undergraduates how to make semiconductor devices.

  • Updates at Levis Center continue with help of Construction Services

    Jun 29, 2016

    Updates at Levis Center continue with help of construction services

    It’s out with the old and in with the new as the renovation of the Levis Faculty Center moves on. The continued upgrading of the dated 1970s-built Levis Faculty Center into modern office and meeting space is one of F&S’ current projects.Levis Before

    The Illinois Program for Research (IPRH) in the Humanities moved to the fourth floor of Levis last summer after Capital Programs managed the $1.1 million remodeling of that area. This spring, Construction Services coordinated smaller-scale, third-floor renovations, converting bar space and a commercial kitchen into meeting rooms and updating the larger main area. The new space will be available for general campus use.

    “The Levis Center used to be an event space for everyone on campus,  so I’m sure all those people who were using it are glad to have it back,” said Nancy Castro, associate director of IPRH, whose office used Levis meeting space in the past.

    Levis AfterThe renovation included the removal of a commercial kitchen and a bar; and the installation of new ceilings, lighting, carpeting, doors, furniture, IT data/power outlets, and audio/visual equipment as well as an updated HVAC system.

    “I feel really good about our work, and everyone is thrilled,” said Construction Project Coordinator Rick Gallivan, who collaborated with 25 F&S shops and/or departments in completing the project under budget and on time.

    Next up for Levis is remodeling the second floor, which will begin in the fall, again under the coordination of Construction Services.

    “Levis has a unique design and layout,” Gallivan said. “There are a lot of two-story areas on each floor, and there are lots of windows. It’s an attractive building, it was just dated.”