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Take the Altra Ultra Challenge

In the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Innovation Shop at UMass Amherst, we challenge students to develop real solutions to real problems every day. Now we’re pleased to announce a challenge for YOU. Altra Industrial Motion, led by President and CEO Carl Christenson ('82 B.S., '84 M.S., Mechanical Engineering), has made a generous challenge grant that will double every gift to the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department’s Innovation Shop up to $50,000. What this means is that your gift today will have twice the impact on future engineers and the practical experience they get in the Innovation Shop. For every dollar you give, Altra will contribute a dollar – doubling the funds that will help expand opportunities for students, and keeping the shop state-of-the-art. Come and take the Altra Ultra Challenge!

The MIE Innovation Shop provides space outfitted with the latest industry tools, instruments, and computers to support mechanical and industrial engineering projects – including all their design, modeling, manufacturing, and testing activities.

Mr. Christenson has been a long-time supporter of the College of Engineering and a personal annual donor to the undergraduate scholarship program within the college.

In his role as President and CEO of Altra, Mr. Christenson has developed strong synergies between his company and the work of the MIE department. The company has sown the seeds of an excellent partnership with MIE by getting actively involved in the department's Senior Design Projects, by expanding career opportunities for undergraduates, and by interacting with MIE faculty in solving important technical questions. The purpose of the Altra Ultra Challenge is to support the renovation and purchase of equipment for the Innovation Shop and to serve as a vital lead gift in our continued fundraising efforts.

In the MIE Innovation Shop, students “learn by doing” with cutting-edge equipment like a 3-dimensional printer, waterjet cutter, and a computer-controlled 4-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 MIE Professor Frank Sup, one of the masterminds behind the shop's 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.”

Your gift, combined with Altra Industrial’s challenge grant, will guarantee the growth and maturity of our students as practicing engineers.

Your investment helps our students meet today’s challenges with tomorrow’s solutions at the MIE Innovation Shop. For more information, contact Paula Sakey, Director of Development, at 413/545-6396 or

Altra Challenge Fundraising Information »

Article: "A Shop Where Students Conceive, Design, and Prototype the Future" »

Innovation Shop Brochure »

(September 2013)