Irwin Loud: Running into new opportunities in MechSE
For Irwin Loud, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering this past Spring, the benefits to staying at Illinois for his graduate work are two-fold.
For one, Loud wanted to continue exploring the work he began during his sophomore year, when he studied abroad in Japan, conducting research on electrochemical systems. Illinois has faculty doing excellent work in this field, including MechSE Professor Kyle Smith. During the final semester of Loud’s senior year, his ME 470 Senior Capstone Design team was mentored by Smith for a project related to electrochemical water desalination. Now, Loud is working toward earning his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, focusing on this area of research in Smith’s lab.
He explained electrochemical water desalination, also known as faradaic deionization, as a process like a battery. “Water will flow through the system and when a voltage is applied to the cell, sodium ions get trapped within the porous material in the system. The chloride ions get removed as well in a concentrated saltwater solution. The result after cycling this water through the system is the removal of significant amounts of salt.”
Additionally, Loud ran for both the cross country and the track and field team at Illinois during his undergraduate career, beginning his freshman year. After graduation, he had a year of eligibility remaining, so his decision to stay for graduate school meant he could also continue to compete on the Illini track and field team.
Loud, who is originally from Oak Park, Illinois, said that while being on the team as a long-distance runner is a huge commitment, he stays ahead of the challenges with hard work and communication with professors in advance. Through his diligence, Loud has no problems excelling on his team and in his program.
When he first arrived at Illinois, Loud said he planned to become a chemical engineer. However, he landed on mechanical engineering thanks to the breadth and depth of MechSE’s program. Because of this, he has been able to explore his chemical interests without being bound to a chemical engineer’s career.
Loud’s current research project investigates the most effective methods of water desalination. This is a rising issue everywhere, and something that will have a huge impact in the future. Beyond electrochemical desalination, he is also interested in using designs to optimize flow through electrochemical systems, and to improve current chemicals energy storage methods.
His interests post-graduation are in finding eco-friendly methods of energy storage and usage. Loud said a graduate degree will enable him to enter the workforce in a more niche field, as a more effective innovator in the industry, ready to solve big problems.