ABOUT US

ABOUT US

History

Overview and background

Mechanical testing has a rich history at the University of Illinois.  In the 1960’s UIUC Professor JoDean Morrow and Herb Johnson of Research Incorporated collaborated to develop the first servo-hydraulic testing machine to facilitate fatigue investigations.  This collaboration formed the basis for the MTS corporation which is now a global supplier of mechanical testing equipment. Professor Morrow also spearheaded interaction with industries such as Caterpillar, John Deere, International Harvester and many more via University of Illinois continuing education programs.  Along with contributions from Frederick Lawrence, Darrell Socie, and Huseyin Sehitoglu, the Fracture Control Program evolved from these interactions, and still has a presence on our campus.

In 2015, it was decided to consolidate and modernize the facility to better serve current faculty research interests and return oversight to the College.

Today, almost fifty years on since the founding of AMTEL, Professor JoDean Morrow should be acknowledged for his vision in setting the groundwork for the laboratory.

The Materials Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL) was formed, with the guidance of Ross Martin (then Director of the College of Engineering Experiment Station), in the 1970’s to serve the mechanical testing needs of College of Engineering faculty and students.  Both College funds and a grant from NSF allowed initial equipment purchases and remodeling of a facility to establish the laboratory in Talbot Lab. In 1993, the name was changed to AMTEL (Advanced Materials Testing and Evaluation Laboratory) to better represent the role of the laboratory and to minimize the confusion with another University facility, the Materials Research Laboratory, MRL.  The AMTEL facility was placed under the administrative control of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in 1997 who graciously and generously hosted it until 2015. Between 1987 and 2017 the Laboratory was managed and directed by Dr. Peter Kurath, Research Professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering, who had also help build a large part of the laboratory equipment infrastructure. Between 2007 and 2016, Dr. Gavin Horn served as a lab coordinator who left to take on the role of Director of Research at the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

In 2015 it was decided to consolidate and modernize the facility to better serve current faculty research interests and return oversight to the College. In February 2018, a new director, Professor John Lambros was appointed director of the lab. Today, almost fifty years on since the founding of AMTEL, Professor JoDean Morrow should be acknowledged for his vision in setting the groundwork for the laboratory.

AMTEL is structured as a user-facility, providing equipment and expertise to facilitate the research, education, and outreach missions of the University.

The primary strengths of this laboratory reside in the diversity of the faculty and students who are served by it. Almost fifty years of cooperative effort have resulted in a unique laboratory.

From the 1970s, the basic goal of the laboratory has been to provide a platform to develop new and innovative testing techniques for those whose primary research interest is the mechanical behavior of materials, as well as to provide a cost-effective facility for occasional users, for whom mechanical testing is not the major thrust in their research.  This basic premise remains unaltered today.  AMTEL is structured as a user-facility, providing equipment and expertise to facilitate the research, education, and outreach missions of the University.  User fees generated are utilized primarily for maintenance of existing equipment.  As such, the facilities will continue to be generally available to any user.  Service testing, although performed on rare occasions, is not the primary role of AMTEL.  Rather, AMTEL enables faculty and students to conduct cutting edge research using standardized methods when applicable, but also to develop new methods to suit changing technologies when standardized methods do not suffice.  In this fashion, AMTEL will continue to be a technology leader in the area of mechanical testing.  The primary strengths of this laboratory reside in the diversity of the faculty and students who are served by it. Almost fifty years of cooperative effort have resulted in a unique laboratory.