Construction has begun on Talbot Laboratory
Construction began in mid-March on a three-story addition to the south face of Talbot Laboratory on the engineering campus at the University of Illinois. The new addition will be shared by the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering.
The basement of the addition will hold a new aerospace engineering composite and additive manufacturing laboratory. NPRE will occupy the first floor with a new radiation measurements instructional laboratory and a new nuclear materials instructional laboratory. The second floor will be dedicated to the nanosatellite technology program in aerospace engineering and include a mission operation center, which will be named for astronaut and alumnus of the Dept. of AE Steve Nagel, who died in 2014.
The concept for this expansion of Talbot was first developed for a call for proposals from the U of I Provost’s office. The objective was to improve the instructional facilities across the entire university. Former AE Bliss Professor and Department Head Philippe Geubelle worked with Jim Stubbins, then NPRE’s Department Head, to put together a proposal to create state-of-the-art instructional facilities.
On the composite manufacturing lab, Geubelle said, “With the ever increasing importance of composite materials in aerospace engineering, it is critical that aerospace engineers be exposed to manufacturing techniques for this class of materials, including prepregging, filament winding, resin transfer molding, autoclave curing, etc. This is the primary objective of this new facility—no AE student will graduate without knowing the key techniques used to make complex, high-quality composite parts. But the lab will also serve anyone on campus who needs to make composite parts for a design project or for research.”
The new lab, which will build on existing manufacturing facilities in the basement of Talbot, will also contain equipment for additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
“This will be truly transformative for the AE department,” he said. “I’m absolutely convinced that it will greatly improve the educational experience not only of our students, but also of students across the College of Engineering. Any student who wishes to build something out of composites will be able to have access to this facility. So this new state-of-the-art lab will be the focal point of any composite-related on our campus.”
Michael Lembeck, associate professor of practice in the AE Dept. and Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois, commented on how the new nanosatellite facility will enhance the CubeSat program at Illinois.
“We’ll have space to install equipment for vibration and thermal vacuum testing our satellites, in which we shake them to simulate what they’ll experience during launch and then thermally cycle them like they’ll see on orbit,” Lembeck said. “We’ll be able to test all of the systems with the ground stations as well. We can test like we fly, and fly like we test. The control center, named for Illinois astronaut Steve Nagel, will allow the students to get actual mission operations experience sending commands and receiving telemetry from our satellites in low earth orbit.”
NPRE Professor. Brent Heuser, a nuclear materials researcher, and Assistant Professor Shiva Abbaszadeh, who develops new technology for biomedical imaging instrumentation, said the new labs will greatly benefit NPRE students.
“The materials used in nuclear reactors, both existing light water reactors and advanced reactor concepts, are exposed to extreme environments,” Heuser said. “The new materials laboratory will ensure that undergraduate NPRE students have the opportunity to perform experiments that test materials used in nuclear reactors. This will include exposure to simulated water chemistry conditions under normal operation and high temperature steam conditions associated with off-normal transients. The materials laboratory will include materials preparation equipment and a Zeiss optical microscope. It will ensure our undergraduate students have the best training and education as they enter the workforce or attend graduate school.”
Said Abbaszadeh, “The Radiation Measurement Laboratory will be dedicated to teach both undergraduate and graduate students techniques for radiation detection using a wide variety of instrumentations that are utilized to study radiation detection and radioactive decay. Students use Gieger-Muller tubes, high-purity germanium, gas-flow proportional counters, gamma and neutron detectors, and digital electronics for spectroscopy.”
The Talbot Educational Laboratory Renovation and Expansion Project will cost $8.66 million and is expected to be completed in fall 2020.