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Ribbon-cutting Ceremony Celebrates Naming of the Altra Industrial Motion Innovation Shop

On Thursday, January 30, the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Altra Industrial Motion Innovation Shop, which provides space outfitted with the latest industry tools, instruments, and computers to support MIE projects, including all their design, modeling, manufacturing, and testing activities. The groundbreaking shop was named in honor of Altra Industrial Motion for its lead gift to support a fundraising effort to modernize the space.

The campaign will provide students and faculty with state-of-the-art equipment, including new 3D printers, a water jet cutter, and a 4-axis milling machine.

Over the long run, the Altra Industrial Motion Innovation Shop will provide our undergraduates with the manufacturing skills that they need to be leaders in the increasingly competitive 21st century.

Altra Industrial Motion, led by President and CEO Carl Christenson ('82 B.S., '84 M.S., Mechanical Engineering), has made this substantial gift to support the initial leap into the future of manufacturing and to provide a means for alumni to double their contribution to the fundraising campaign.

Mr. Christenson spoke at the ribbon cutting, along with MIE Department Head Don Fisher, MIE Professor Sundar Krishnamurty, and CEE Professor John Collura, followed by a tour of the advanced equipment led by Rick Winn, the professional technician in the Innovation Shop.

Mr. Christenson, who has been a longtime supporter of the College of Engineering and a personal annual donor to the undergraduate scholarship program within the college, also spoke to MIE student participants in the Engineering Leadership, Innovation, Teaching, and Entrepreneurship (ELITE) Program, formed to equip some of the department’s best and brightest students with the leadership, entrepreneurial, and communications skills to expand the pool of engineers who become CEOs, founding officers, supervisors, directors, managers, and teachers.

Altra Industrial Motion is a leading global supplier of quality power-transmission and motion-control products. Altra products are sold in over 70 countries in a variety of major industrial markets, including food processing, material handling, packaging machinery, mining, energy, automotive, primary metals, turf and garden, and many others.

In the Altra Industrial Motion Innovation Shop, students “learn by doing” with cutting-edge equipment such as a three-dimensional printer, a waterjet cutter, and a computer-controlled four-axis mill. By using this equipment, our students acquire real-world skills that they’ll bring to the workforce after graduation.

“The goal of the new MIE Innovation Shop,” says Sup, one of the masterminds behind the Innovation Shop redesign, “is to create a space where students can translate their classroom knowledge from theory to practice, giving them the experience of creating a design and learning what it takes to make it real. In a sense, the Innovation Shop completes the loop on their education by providing the students insight into the power of their engineering education.”

At the shop, students are able to take their projects from concept to reality. “To do this, we have to provide them access to, and familiarity with, the sophisticated manufacturing equipment comparable to what they will be working with after they graduate,” says Sup. “It will be a critical part of their education: a safe, interactive, innovative environment in which to explore their ideas and develop themselves as engineers.”

If you would like to learn more about the Innovation Shop and how to contribute, please call Paula Sakey, Director of Development, at (413) 545-6396. (January 2014)