Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Promod Vohra
Promod Vohra

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News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

June 18, 2009

Engineering school reaches out to manufacturers

Rockford, Ill. — The College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University is ready to lend a helping hand to Rockford area manufacturing companies, Dean Promod Vohra told executives at a June 10 event hosted by NIU-Rockford.

“Too often we talk to people in the manufacturing sector who have given up hope of competing in the global market,” said Vohra. “I tell those people, you CAN easily compete with countries such as China and India, and we are always there to help. We can help you innovate and be cost effective in a global market. The focus needs to shift toward the global consumer and mass production.

“They think they are alone, but we are ready to help anyone who reaches out to us, and I hope they do, because the price of doing nothing is far too high in a globally competitive manufacturing environment,” he added

Vohra outlined four of the several ways that NIU can help local manufacturers.

  • Access to laboratories. The engineering facilities on NIU’s DeKalb campus include more than 35 state-of-the-art laboratories where products can be tested, new manufacturing methods explored or new technologies applied. The newest is the Baxter Reliability Lab, which is a full-service reliability testing facility to subject parts and products to extremes of heat, cold, vibration, humidity and other factors to assess their effect on the product, or to accelerate the normal life cycle of a machine. Other laboratories include facilities devoted to acoustics, robotics, microelectronics, ergonomics, fluid dynamics, welding, metrology and more.
  • NIU-ROCK. Based out of the EIGERlab in Rockford, NIU-Rock was developed specifically to help local manufacturers become part of the Department of Defense supply chain. Today the program has expanded to help introduce new manufacturing techniques and technologies in the region and has developed a reputation as a matchmaker, bringing together companies and individuals with unique, complimentary abilities to launch new ventures. The partnership with industry will continue to broaden the scope of this project.
  • Engineers in Residence Program. This newly launched program matches NIU graduate engineering students with companies in need of specific skills. Working under the direction of the company, but with the support of NIU faculty, the students attack projects for six months (or more) at a time, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. The students gain valuable experience while companies gain useful insights.
  • Internships. Each year dozens of NIU students seek internships in various fields of engineering – mechanical, electrical, systems engineering and technology. While not as advanced as the graduate students in the Engineers in Residence program, these students are highly skilled and eager to gain engineering experience.

The services that the college can provide to manufacturers are on par with many larger colleges, and CEET’s dedication to industry is unmatched in the region, said Vohra.

“People underestimate what the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology can do because we are young. “But few schools are more involved with industry,“ he said.

Companies interested in learning more about assistance available from the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology should contact Dick Johnson at (815) 753-8938.

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