MechSE Research Centers
Our science-based approach brings MechSE researchers into increasingly close contact with researchers in other departments, universities, and research institutions. Our faculty are major participants in activities at the department, college, and university level via research centers. Click on a center below to learn more.
Center for Networked Intelligent Components and Environments (C-NICE)
Director: Placid Ferreira
This $100M partnership between Grainger Engineering and Foxconn Interconnect Technology serves as a global hub for the intelligent technologies driving the manufacturing plants, medical environments, autonomous vehicles, and smart homes of the future. Projects include those at the heart of Internet of Things-enabled systems and environments.
Center for Exascale Simulation of Plasma-Coupled Combustion (XPACC)
Co-Director: Jonathan Freund
Utilizing physical modeling, large-scale simulation prediction, and computational science, the center is developing new modes of advancing combustion using plasma technology. In its sixth year, it’s funded through the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration program and comprises researchers, staff, and students almost entirely from Illinois.
Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC)
IRG2 Project Leader: Arend van der Zande
Part of the larger NSF-funded center, the research team for “Active interfaces between highly deformable nanomaterials,” aims to bridge hard-material electronic design with the adaptability of nature to engineer new electronic devices that can change shape without losing functionality, like truly wearable electronics, implantable biosensors, and medical diagnostic technologies.
National Science Foundation Data and Informatics Graduate Intern-Traineeship: Materials at the Atomic Scale (DIGI-MAT)
PI: Harley Johnson
With a $3M NSF training grant and with engagement from six engineering departments, Illinois graduate students now have the infrastructure available to pursue interdisciplinary training and obtain career-aligned skills through a PhD-level certificate program combining materials and data science.
Center for UAS Propulsion (CUP)
Academic Lead at Illinois and Center Host: Tonghun Lee
CUP is an Army Led DoD Research Center and part of ARL-Central dedicated to research and development of next-generation UAV propulsion systems. Collaboration between the DoD, partner universities, and industry is promoted within CUP to develop core technologies for advanced multi-fuel capable hybrid propulsion systems, auxiliary systems, and control architecture.
Center for Autonomy
Director: Geir Dullerud
Artificial intelligence and autonomous technologies are revolutionizing industries like agriculture, transportation, national defense, healthcare, and manufacturing—but transitioning to these systems will require fundamentally new research developments. The Center for Autonomy pursues research projects that support autonomous systems safely and reliably.
Center for Novel High-Voltage/Temperature Materials and Structures (HV/TMS)
Illinois Site Director: Iwona Jasiuk
Midwest Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Coalition
Director: Petros Sofronis
Hydrogen can be an effective storage medium to better utilize renewable energy like wind and solar. This partnership between Argonne National Lab and Illinois will raise awareness of the potential for hydrogen and fuel cells to provide energy resilience and security, reduce emissions, and foster economic growth.
Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Center (ACRC)
Director: Pega Hrnjak. Associate Directors: Nenad Miljkovic and Stefan Elbel
Founded in 1988, this longest-running center in MechSE, along with 30 sponsoring companies, is developing a new generation of energy-efficient and reliable equipment for using environmentally safe refrigerants. ACRC carries on the department’s historic leadership in air conditioning and refrigeration.
Director and PI: Elif Ertekin. Co-PIs: Narayan Aluru and Placid Ferreira
The nanoMFG node is the first of its kind in the U.S. Hosted at Illinois and NCSA in partnership with UC Berkeley, nanoMFG researchers develop computational software tools aimed at creating smart, model-driven and experimentally informed nanomanufactured structures and devices. The software tools are designed to simulate every step of the manufacturing process of a nano-enabled product.
Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS)
Director: Andrew Alleyne
POETS addresses the thermal and electrical challenges surrounding electrified vehicle mobility as a single system. Their work is enabling the manufacture of lighter, more compact, and more efficient systems for electric vehicles, airplanes, construction equipment, and other applications of electrified mobility.
International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER)
Director: Petros Sofronis
Establishing international academic collaborations between Illinois and Kyushu University in Japan, I2CNER contributes significantly to the advancement toward a carbon-neutral energy society. Its research focuses on the production, storage, and utilization of hydrogen as a fuel, and the exploration of CO2 capture and storage or the conversion of CO2 to a useful product.
Fracture Control Program (FCP)
Director: Huseyin Sehitoglu
The Fracture Control Program (FCP) has had a rich history at Illinois since its inception in 1971. By focusing on the needs and strategic interests of its sponsoring companies, the FCP aims to foster substantial progress and technology transfer in the area of durability modeling and materials databases.
NSF PIRE (Partnerships in International Research and Education)
PI: Narayana Aluru, Co-PIs: Elif Ertekin, Petros Sofronis
With $4.2M funding from the National Science Foundation, this particular project combines Illinois’ world-class experimental resources, computational facilities, and expertise to solve the energy storage grand challenge. The team has focused on solid oxide electrolysis cells that transform renewable energy into chemical energy and store it for later use—a potentially clean, efficient path to a carbon-neutral economy. The program, extending into 2021, is centered at Illinois and Kyushu University in Japan. Collaborating institutions include Northwestern University and the UC Berkeley.
Center for Wearable Intelligent Technologies (WIT)
PI: Elizabeth T. Hsiao-Wecksler
The Center for Wearable Intelligent Technologies is focused on next-generation wearable devices that not only track but adapt their function to assist the wearer autonomously. These devices will seamlessly interact with the wearer to improve human health, wellness, or performance based on research supported by user-centered design, biomechanics, and social and behavioral science foundations.
Center for Hypersonics and Entry Systems Studies (CHESS)
Center leadership: Kelly Stephani, Tonghun Lee
CHESS is a multidisciplinary team of researchers in The Grainger College of Engineering, with headquarters in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. CHESS draws from expertise in state-of-the-art experimental facilities and high-performance computing to support fundamental advances in hypersonics and entry system technologies. Through this research enterprise, CHESS is dedicated to enabling new advances in hypersonics and creating a pipeline of young talent through excellence in research, education, and mentorship.