WMU News

Anonymous gift funds new engineering design center

July 24, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- A $1 million gift from an anonymous benefactor will be used to establish a new Center for Integrated Design in Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The center will become a collegewide resource to be used in all departments and for all types of industry, making it an ideal fit for its future home in the new engineering building that will open in 2003 on WMU's Parkview Campus, located south of the University's main Kalamazoo campus. That new engineering facility is adjacent to WMU's Business Technology and Research Park, which will serve as a home for private-sector tenants in a variety of industries. The Center for Integrated Design is the first of five centers proposed for the new building to receive funding.

"We are very excited about the center, and we hope this donation will help stimulate interest in establishing other centers," says Stephen Keizer, director of development for the college.

Establishment of the CID will allow students to explore the ways engineering and design are related. The facility will house cutting-edge software and hardware, providing students and faculty access to a "one- stop shop" in which design, prototyping and production of a test part can take place at the same location.

In addition, it will serve as a test bed for local industry, allowing for the simulation of concept development through the process stage as well as the verification of new tools for use in industry. The center also will allow the college to serve as a clearinghouse for design development. Students and faculty can create and test their own design concepts or they can accept concepts developed outside the University for testing.

"The biggest strength of the center will be its ability to combine conceptual design tools with engineering analysis capabilities, resulting in process design for manufacturing," notes Dr. Michael Atkins, chairperson of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Companies, he points out, may not have the resources within a central environment to perform all of these activities in house, so they may outsource some or all of the work. To aid the college in the purchase of equipment, industrial advisory boards will be asked to provide input on hardware and software purchases, so the center is equipped with the same tools used in industry.

In addition to providing students and faculty with the ability to design and create a prototype, the state-of-the art equipment in the CID also will allow students and faculty to perform reverse engineering. They will be able to take what is already created, digitize it and perform analysis for the purpose of re-engineering the product.

Approximately half of the $1 million gift will be used to purchase hardware and software for the center. The remaining funds will be set up in an endowment fund that will be used to ensure the college has the ability in the future to keep the center on the cutting edge of technology.

"This fund will allow us to continually purchase the newest technology for our operation and will allow us the resources to keep it at the state-of-the-art level," says Atkins. "With the establishment of the Center for Integrated Design, the only limitation will be that of our own creativity."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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