Limitless Magazine Spring 2021




Limitless Magazine



We do the impossible. Every day. Check out some recent highlights of our impact on global research, innovation, and engineering education.

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Tectonic Forces That Will Change the World of Technology and Business

When the company announced that he would become its next leader, Reuters called Arvind Krishna “IBM’s surprise CEO.” But with 30 years at the company, including time running IBM’s hybrid cloud and AI business, others knew it made all the sense in the world.

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SATYRR: Semi-Anthropomorphic Teleoperated Dynamic Rolling Robot

Smoke jumpers parachute in to fight forest fires. Miners work hundreds, sometimes thousands, of feet below ground under dangerous conditions. Disaster relief workers and first responders face the threat of explosions, radiation, or building collapse. They bravely assure us it’s all in a day’s work. But scientists and sci-fi writers alike have often asked “Can we use robots instead?”

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The Revolution is Here

Grainger Engineering hires nine new faculty in autonomy and robotics, as the Center for Autonomy drives the safe, assured systems that will revolutionize the way we live, work, and play.

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Crises Require Quick Responses

Over the summer of 2020, the University of Illinois was frequently conducting about 20 percent of all COVID-19 tests performed on a given day in the state of Illinois – or between one and two percent of all tests performed across the US.

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Purely on the Promise That We Could Do Great Things

There are beautiful days in central Illinois in mid-October. Days when the sun’s shining and the air’s just crisp enough to remind you it’s Fall. Football weather. Bonfire weather. Trip to the orchard weather. Or – if you’re a Grainger Engineer and you’ve already done your apple picking for the season – weather that’s perfect for visiting an autonomous farm.

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Andrew Alleyne Honored by Air Force

Professor Andrew Alleyne (Ralph & Catherine Fisher Professor in the Department of Mechanical Science & Engineering and a member of the Coordinated Science Laboratory) earned the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Exceptional Public Service Award. It is the most prestigious award granted by the US Air Force to non-employee civilians.

Alleyne was honored for his work from 2016 to 2020, including serving as Science and Technology (S&T) Chair of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). His service included S&T reviews for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s technical directorates as well as participation on several SAB studies of Air Force S&T strategies.

Kelly Stephani New Deputy Director of Hypersonics Consortium

The Department of Defense launched the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics, naming UIUC one of its 10 key institutions. Several Aerospace Engineering faculty will play pivotal roles in the $100 million program, including Professor Kelly Stephani (a Kritzer Faculty Fellow in Mechanical Science & Engineering) who will serve as the consortium’s deputy director.

Center for Digital Agriculture

New center combines campus’ areas of expertise in engineering and agriculture to cement Illinois’ position as an innovator in this emerging field of agricultural technology and develop solutions to agricultural problems that use digital technology.

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On the Next Frontier

The TRIGA Reactor went critical ­– began operating at stable power – on August 16, 1960, during some of the tensest years of the cold war.

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A Clean Slate and a Lot of Energy

Safer Illinois app – custom built by University of Illinois developers, researchers, and students – is a crucial element of the campus’ COVID-19 response.

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Flying a Dragon to the Space Station

When NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon spacecraft launched on November 15, 2020, Grainger Engineering alumnus Mike Hopkins was in the commander’s seat.

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New Data-Driven Global Climate Model Provides Projections for Urban Environments

A new climate model that makes projections specific to urban areas predicts that by the end of this century, average warming across global cities will increase by 1.9 degrees Celsius to 4.4 C, depending on the rate of emissions.

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Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge

The Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge, planned for completion in summer 2021, will connect Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory with the newly constructed addition to the Hydrosystems Laboratory.

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AI and the Future of Agriculture

Robots rolling through fields of corn or soybeans taking out the weeds without chemicals or physical labor? It may sound like a dream for family farmers. However, the impact will be felt far and wide in both geography and industry.

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Multidisciplinary Nanostructure Research Takes Wing

A multidisciplinary group that studies the physical and chemical properties of insect wings has demonstrated the ability to reproduce the nanostructures that help cicada wings repel water and prevent bacteria from establishing on the surface.

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6 DURIP Awards

The Department of Defense awarded Defense University Research Instrumentation Program grants to six Grainger Engineering faculty or affiliates. UIUC earned more grants than all but one institution nationwide. Awards went to Professors Tugce Baser, Can Bayram, Dana Dlott, Milton Feng, Tonghun Lee, and Hanghang Tong.


At Illinois, we place great pride in our interdisciplinary work ethic. With top-ranked graduate programs across every department and discipline of engineering, we bring together the brightest minds in the world to solve the most pressing global challenges of our time. We share the common goal of providing superior research capabilities in the fundamental engineering sciences in collaboration with industrial and governmental laboratories. We also support undergraduate and graduate student education and enhance rapid technology transfer from the University to industry.

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