MRO Magazine

Student engineering team wins Excavator Cab of the Future design contest

June 6, 2016 | By MRO Magazine

UIUC Project AME TeamMilwaukee, WI – The student engineering team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) submitted the winning design for an aesthetic and functional excavator cab that will be 3-D printed and on display at IFPE and CONEXPO-CON/AGG at the Tech Experience in March.

Student engineering teams from across the country submitted their designs for a futuristic excavator cab and human machine interface. A panel of industry experts judged the competition; members of the UIUC team will receive a $2,000 cash prize, donated by the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA), and will have the opportunity to travel to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee to observe the printing of their design.

“This project was one of the very top efforts in an extremely competitive field of 28 senior design capstone projects within the MechSE Department at UIUC in the Spring 2016 semester,” said Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler, Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. “It had the ideal combination of a challenging project with outstanding ingenuity and hard work by the student team. We think it was a perfect example of what’s being accomplished within our senior design capstone program’s innovative atmosphere.”

A video of the winning design submitted by the UIUC can be seen here.


According to John Rozum, IFPE show director the excavator, will be on display at the joint trade shows in March and will bring to life how technology is transforming the construction industry in line with the show’s 2017 theme, “Imagine What’s Next.”

In addition to the pre-printed excavator, show attendees will see a demonstration of the 3D printing technology on the show floor.

“Additive manufacturing will revolutionize the way things are designed and produced in the not-so-distant future,” said Mike Gust, industrial liaison officer at the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP). “This contest helped to raise awareness of advancements in technology to the next generation of engineers and we’re excited that future engineers are bringing this newly designed machine to life.”

CCEFP was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to 3D-print a full-scale operational excavator, to be on display at the 2017 IFPE and CONEXPO-CON/AGG Trade Shows in Las Vegas. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility will lead the printing of the machine.

CCEFP is working with research teams from Georgia Tech and The University of Minnesota to convert the current excavator design to one that is conducive to and takes full advantage of 3D manufacturing. Graduate engineering students at Georgia Tech will create a boom and bucket featuring integrated hydraulics with the goal of decreasing the weight, materials cost and maintenance, while students at the University of Minnesota are designing a hydraulic oil reservoir/heat exchanger and cooling system that reduces the size and weight and increase the efficiency of the machine.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, NFPA, CCEFP, ORNL and NSF partnered with Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota to sponsor the nationwide cab design contest.

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About IFPE
IFPE is the leading international exposition and technical conference dedicated to the integration of fluid power with other technologies for power transmission and motion control applications. IFPE is held every three years and is co-located with CONEXPO-CON/AGG exposition for the construction industries. IFPE is co-owned by the National Fluid Power Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.


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