SystemDesign@Illinois

Engineering System Design Lab

Welcome to the Engineering System Design Lab at the Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, directed by Professor James Allison. Our mission is to play a leading role in the transformation of engineering system design.

The complexity of engineered systems has risen dramatically in recent decades, but conventional system design methods have failed to keep pace, resulting in regular cost and time overruns. Interactions between system components contribute to complexity, and at the ESDL we study advanced design methods that can fully account for system interactions and capitalize on synergistic relationships to improve system performance and reduce complexity of the design process. We are particularly interested in ways better system design can have positive impact on humanity, such as improving energy efficiency and energy sustainability.

Please visit our research and publications pages to learn more about our work. You may also be interested in visitng Professor Allison's YouTube Channel and MATLAB Central Profile for videos and MATLAB code associated with teaching and research relevant to the ESDL. If you have more questions, are interested in joining the ESDL, or are considering collaboration or sponsoring our research, please contact Professor Allison.

Click here for more information regarding research opportunities within the ESDL.

Group Photos

News

    2014

  • Congratulations to Jeff Arena and Dan Herber who graduated with their M.S. in Systems and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Tinghao Guo and Ashish Khetan who graduated with their M.S. in Industrial Engineering on 5/18/14.
  • The ESDL visited Yankee Ridge Elementary School (Urbana IL) to give a hands-on demonstration of trebuchets to kindergarten, first, and third grade students. Students learned about the science of trebuchets, and tried out different trebuchet design ideas. Thanks to Danny Lohan who organized the event, and to the many ESDL members who participated.
  • Welcome to Varun Berry, Gabby Chuchro, Jingzhe (Andrew) Cui, Anthony Lin, and Raghu Vadali, who joined the ESDL as undergraduate researchers during Spring Semester 2014.
  • Congratulations to Jason McDonald, Lakshmi Rao, and James Allison, who both were recognized on the "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students" for Fall 2013 (GE 320 - Jason McDonald, IE 300 - Lakshmi Rao, GE 410 - James Allison).
  • The ESDL conducted a trebuchet demonstration at the 2014 UIUC Engineering Open House, a large event that is an opportunity for the public to learn about the vast spectrum of work going on at the UIUC College of Engineering. The trebuchet demonstration was organized by Jason McDonald, and many ESDL members contributed.
  • James Allison was awarded the grant "Advancing Undergraduate Design Learning Through Extensive Use of Hands-On Model-Based Design Projects (Phase 2)" by the UIUC Grants for the Advancement of Teaching Engineering in the amount of $18,000.
  • James Allison and a small group of other faculty members were awarded $164,735 for "ISE Instructional Laboratory Funding" through the UIUC College of Engineering for educational laboratory equipment.
  • Congratulations to Jeff Arena who accepted a position at MIT Lincoln Laboratory that will begin after his anticipated graduation in May 2014.
  • James Allison was awarded the grant "Rheological Design for Efficient Fluid Power" from NSF in the amount of $208,250. He is Co-PI, and the award is through the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power.
  • James Allison was awarded the grant "Strain Actuation & Sensing of SC Structures for Payload Jitter Suppression and Momentum Dumping" from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the amount of $30,000 ($18,000 for UIUC).
  • James Allison was awarded the grant "Illinois Biological Foundry for Advanced Biomanufacturing (iBioFAB) - TA1" in the amount of $264,612 from DARPA. He is Co-PI, and this is the first phase award for a new DARPA Center.
  • Congratulations to Allen Kaitharath who accepted a position at Belcan Engineering.
  • 2013

  • Welcome to Yefei Li who joined the ESDL as a visiting scholar in December 2013.
  • Congratulations to Allen Kaitharath who graduated with his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and Adam Cornell who graduated with his B.S. in General Engineering on 12/21/13.
  • James Allison presented a poster "Design Principles for Autonomous Engineering Systems" at the WSRI AHEAD Conference in Dayton OH in December 2013.
  • James Allison presented a seminar talk at the UIUC Mechanical Engineering Bio-Interest seminar series.
  • James Allison presented the seminar talk "Toward Integrated Design Methods for Active Dynamic Systems" at both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University of Southern California in November 2013.
  • James Allison is now a faculty affiliate of both the UIUC Institute for Genomic Biology (Biosystems Design), and the UIUC Computational Science and Engineering Program.
  • James Allison was awarded a $100,000 grant from Deere and Company for the second phase (2014) of the project "Development of Generative Algorithm-Based Strategies for System Architecture Design Optimization with Large-Scale Capabilities".
  • Welcome to Jason McDonald and Lakshmi Rao who joined the ESDL as graduate student researchers and Adam Cornell and Tuganai Borina who joined the ESDL as a undergraduate student researchers in August 2013.
  • Dan Herber and James Allison authored the paper 'Wave Energy Extraction Maximization in Irregular Ocean Waves using Pseudospectral Methods' that was selected as a finalist for the 2013 ASME Design Automation Conference Best Paper Award.
  • Dan Herber presented the paper 'Wave Energy Extraction Maximization in Irregular Ocean Waves using Pseudospectral Methods', Anand Deshmukh presented the paper 'Design of Nonlinear Dynamic Systems using Surrogate Models of Derivative Functions', and Randy Ewoldt presented the paper 'Early-Stage Design of Rheologically Complex Materials via Material Function Design Targets' at the 2013 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference in Portland, Oregon the week of August 5th 2013.
  • James Allison was named the 2013 ASME Design Automation Young Investigator Award winner and received the award at the 2013 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference in Portland, Oregon on August 6th 2013.
  • A team of nine PIs, including James Allison, was awarded a $50,000 grant through the UIUC College of Engineering Strategic Instructional Initiatives Program (SIIP), for the project "Linking and Integration of Civil and Engineering Systems Design Courses".
  • Tinghao Guo presented the paper 'On the Use of MPCCs in Combined Topological and Parametric Design of Genetic Regulatory Circuits.', and James Allison presented the papers 'Managing Variable-Dimension Structural Optimization Problems using Generative Algorithms' and 'Multiple-Objective Topology Optimization of Multi-Component Continuum Structures via an Explicit Level-Set Approach' (on behalf of Karim Hamza) at the 10th World Congress on Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization in Orlando, Florida the week of May 20th 2013.
  • Tinghao Guo, Dan Herber, and Xin Niu accepted internships at Deere and Co. for summer 2013 in Champaign, IL.
  • Congratulations to Anand Deshmukh who was awarded the University of Illinois Clean Energy Education Fellowship for his work in wind energy co-design in April 2013.
  • Congratualtions to Anand Deshmukh who successfully defended his MS thesis: "Multidisciplinary Design Optimization of Dynamic Dystems Using Surrogate Modeling" on April 29, 2013.
  • James Allison was featured in a UIUC College of Engineering Article highlighting his 'transmission surgery' demonstration, where GE 410 students get to observe the complete disassembly of an automatic transmission and learn about its operation and design.
  • James Allison delivered an invited presentation 'Toward Integrated Design Methods for Mechatronic Systems' at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA on April 12th 2013.
  • Dan Herber, Anand Deshmukh, Jeff Arena, Allen Kaitharath, and Danny Lohan conducted an activity at the Urbana Yankee Ridge Elementary School's Junior Scientist Day where students design and launched trebuchets, and learned about the physics and design of trebuchets.
  • James Allison presented the papers 'Multidisciplinary Design Optimization of Dynamic Engineering Systems' and 'Simultaneous Structural and Control System Design for Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines' at the 9th AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Specialist Conference in Boston, MA on April 8th 2013.
  • Ethan Garner accepted an internship at Deere and Co. in Moline IL.
  • Dan Herber was awarded an Honorable Mention for his NSF Graduate Research Fellowship proposal.
  • The ESDL organized and conducted an activity for Illinois Engineering Open House where particpants learned about the physics and design of trebuchets.
  • Welcome to Ethan Garner and Yashu Madhavan who joined the ESDL in March 2013.
  • Jeff Arena accepted an internship at MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  • Dan Herber was featured in a video showcasing internship opportunities at the UIUC Research Park.
  • James Allison was awarded a $40,000 grant from MathWorks, Inc. for the curriculum development project "Advancing Undergraduate Design Learning Through Extensive Use of Hands-On Model-Based Design Projects".
  • A team of ten PIs at UIUC, including James Allison, were awarded a $2,000,000 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust for "A Proposal to Establish a New IGB Research Theme in Synthetic Biology."
  • Welcome to Chen Ge who joined the ESDL in January 2012 as an undergraduate researcher.
  • James Allison was awarded a $100,000 grant from Deere and Company for the project "Development of Generative Algorithm-Based Strategies for System Architecture Design Optimization with Large-Scale Capabilities".
  • 2012

  • ESDL research in integrated physical and control system design, as well as optimal redesign of mechatronic systems, was featured in the 2012 AIAA Year in Review.
  • James Allison delivered the keynote lecture at the 2012 Deere & Co. Model-Based Systems Design and Systems Engineering Conference on November 29th in Moline IL.
  • The GE 100 Trebuchet Competition was featured in this UIUC news brief and this WCIA news report (video). This competition, involving approximately 150 freshman engineering students, was part of a new class project developed by James Allison and many other members of the ESDL.
  • James Allison has been appointed to the scientific committee for the ICED13 Conference and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Congress of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization.
  • Dan Herber presented the paper 'Wave Energy Extraction Maximization Using Direct Transcription' at the 2012 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition in Houston Texas on November 14th 2012.
  • Welcome to Jeff Arena, Dan Herber, Ashish Khetan, and Venkatesh Loganathan who joined the ESDL as graduate student researchers this fall.
  • Congratulations to Dan Herber who was presented with the 'Most Valuable Tech Innovation in the Research Park' award on August 2nd 2012. Dan was selected from among all student interns working at UIUC research park. He developed a significant computational simulation for Deere & Co. Anand Deshmukh and Tinghao Guo also contributed to the project.
  • Welcome to Xin Niu who joined the ESDL in May 2012 as an undergraduate researcher.
  • Congratulations to Allen Kaitharath who graduated with his B.S. in General Engineering on 5/13/12.
  • James Allison was awarded the Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising (April 2012).
  • James Allison presented the paper 'Engineering System Co-Design with Limited Plant Redesign' at the 8th AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Specialist Conference on April 24th 2012.
  • Welcome to Danny Lohan who joined the ESDL as an undergraduate student researcher spring 2012.
  • Welcome to Mike Guevara who joined the ESDL in January 2012 as an undergraduate researcher.
  • 2011

  • Congratulations to Dan Herber who graduated with his B.S. in General Engineering on 12/17/11.
  • A new special topics course (GE 598 - Dynamic System Modeling and Design) will be offered Spring 2012. It will address the interfaces between modeling, simulation, control, design, and optimization aspects of dynamic system design.
  • Welcome to Dan Herber and Allen Kaitharath who joined the ESDL in October 2011 as undergraduate researchers.
  • James Allison presented the paper 'Co-Design of an Active Suspension Using Simultaneous Dynamic Optimization' at the 2011 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference on August 31st 2011.