WMU Engineering Lab Debuts

    KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University’s new Parker Motion and Control Laboratory will be dedicated tomorrow at 11 a.m.

    The new lab, designed to help bridge the gap between theory and practice in the area of motion control, is located in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences building on the university’s Parkview Campus.

    The interdisciplinary lab is the result of a partnership between WMU and Parker Hannifin Corp., which donated $100,000 to establish the lab. The facility will be used to expose undergraduate students to the technologies of motion control, including pneumatic, hydraulic and motor-driven control systems.

    Some common applications of motion control include manufacturing, aircraft, amusement park rides and animation for the motion picture industry.

    According to James Kamman, director of the laboratory and associate professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, it is difficult to explain to students how mathematical models relate to real systems, how control theory is applied to real systems and how control system concepts are implemented.

    In the laboratory setting, students will have the opportunity to experiment with control systems to learn the limitations of each technology. Faculty and students from the departments of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, electrical and computer engineering and industrial and manufacturing engineering will benefit from the new hands-on facility.

    Kamman added that the new lab will allow WMU to produce graduates who are not only familiar with motion control technologies but also will have an understanding of the right technology for the right application.

    This understanding will give graduates a leg up on other job seekers who have only been introduced to the theory of motion control, he said.

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