Engineering labs available to area businesses

By Maria Tortorello

After two years of trying, NIU’s Microelectronics Research and Development Laboratories (MRDL) is offering area businesses and industries the opportunity to use NIU’s College of Engineering’s lab facilities.

The MRDL provides economical design, research and prototype development, production and specialized consulting services in circuit design, computer-aided design and layout, feasibility studies, research and development, product commercialization and conversion of existing technology.

Al Genis, NIU chair of electrical engineering, said the MRDL started offering its services as of Oct. 1.

However, the idea of offering lab facilities to businesses is not new.

“It has been a two-year effort,” Genis said. “We finally got the go-ahead to do it.”

He said the funds from the program will help NIU’s College of Engineering for educational reasons.

“If it weren’t helping the department, there would be no reason to do it,” said Ed Scott, industrial liason for the College of Engineering.

The program allows students to do more practical engineering work as well, Scott said.

The opportunity to use the engineering labs at the university also helps the businesses and industries involved save money and keep costs down, Genis said.

“Hopefully, it will build university and industrial relations,” he said.

Tne other intention of the MRDL’s program is to make NIU’s engineering school more well-known.

“We would like to let people know that we’re interested,” Scott said.

The response from area businesses has been positive, Genis said. Several corporations involved in engineering are taking advantage of the facilities the College of Engineering is offering.