Our One and Only Omron Lab

If you have ever been in our Engineering Building, you have probably wandered past our Omron Lab and noticed that it looks like a pretty impressive facility for a college engineering program to have, and that’s exactly right.

Our Robotics and Mechatronics lab is one of only two Omron named Labs in the United States with the other being at ISU in their Applied Safety and Ergonomics department.  Our lab opened in April of 2013 and has provided endless opportunities for students in our robotics and mechatronics departments.  On October 30, NIU CEET had the pleasure of being visited by the OmronChairman of the Board Fumio Tateishi. 
Tateishi spent nearly two hours in our Omron Lab and Engineering Building, spending time with faculty, staff, and students.  One of the students who has been heavily involved with the lab and got to spend time with Tateishi last Thursday is James Mortell, senior mechatronics major and our Omron Lab Manager.
“My task was to figure out how to get a mechanical arm [in the lab] working, with the intention of teaching other professors and students how to use it if they needed it for research,” Mortell said of his initial project in the lab.  
Mortell has been working in the lab since it was introduced in our building and has seen the great benefits that the lab has reaped for students and faculty alike.
“It’s influenced a lot of student Senior Design projects because it provided them with a workspace that wasn’t there before, in order to do mechatronics related projects and research,” Mortell said. 
James Mortell showing Tateishi around the lab
The lab has also helped students get ahead on research by allowing them to use the materials in the lab right away, instead of having to wait for parts and equipment to be ordered. 
“I recently spoke with one of the professors in the Mechanical Engineering Departmen. One of his graduate students was looking for some of the equipment we had in the lab so that his student could do research while he waited for the parts that he ordered,”  Mortell said.
Mortell also serves as a mentor in our E-Pride Mentorship Program and has high hopes for the legacy of the lab, after he graduates.
“I hope that the students I mentor have an interest in mechatronics so that I can help them grow and learn different things that wouldn’t necessarily be taught in other classes,” Mortell said. 
Some of the plans discussed during Tateishi’s visit were expanding the lab to increase the amount of equipment and further promotion of the lab and it’s abilities so that undergraduate students can and will utilize it more.
“Since I got involved, I’ve just seen the [lab’s] progress and it’s awesome,” Mortell said.  “I just want other students to be involved, especially since I graduate in May. I want it to continue.

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