Sargent & Lundy once again participated as a corporate partner in the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kaplan Institute’s Interprofessional Project (IPRO), a program giving students the experience of multidisciplinary engineering projects and the tools to make an immediate impact upon entering the industry.
Sargent & Lundy has a long-standing relationship with IIT, is the Chicago area’s top employer of its graduates, and has been a corporate sponsor for the IPRO program for over ten years. One of just a few programs of its kind in the country, IPRO joins students from various majors to work together to solve real-world problems on behalf of sponsor companies and nonprofits. With an acute focus on innovation, it prepares students to succeed in a professional work environment by teaching leadership, creativity, teamwork design thinking, and project management.
Corporate sponsors like Sargent & Lundy are then asked to generate a challenge problem germane to its industry for a professional track or “lab.” As IIT alums, Curtis Cox and Emily Kunkel have functioned as corporate sponsor representatives of the IPRO program for several years. This semester they enlisted the help of fellow IIT alums, Kevin Lauzze, Eric Hope, and Daniel Amaya Aguilera, to generate the “Energy” lab challenge question, interface with the students, and review the teams’ presentations.
The Sargent & Lundy challenge problem required the students to consider hydrogen’s role as part of the future’s secure, reliable, and sustainable clean energy infrastructure. Students were instructed to propose a feasible and focused hydrogen infrastructure including production, transport/storage, and use cases while considering factors like technologies, economics, environmental impacts, and existing infrastructure. This challenge project generated the most interest of all labs – a total of 14 teams each consisting of four to six students, but only one could be selected as the winner.
“The winning Energy lab team consisted of a combination of aerospace, chemical, and civil engineers along with architecture and computer science students, providing a great range of technical understanding,” stated Cox. “The innovative, multidisciplinary team structure of the IPRO program sets grads – many who will eventually work for Sargent & Lundy – up for success.”
This year’s IPRO program culminated on Innovation Day. Streamed live on YouTube, Innovation Day showcased the ten best video presentations submitted by student teams from all labs. Representing the Sargent & Lundy corporate sponsorship at Innovation Day, Cox and Kunkel introduced the winning presentation for the Energy lab.
“When I look back at my time in engineering school, working on a similar multidisciplinary group project with real industrial applications sponsored by companies like Sargent & Lundy had a huge impact on me,” Kunkel added. “It helped me understand what real industry work looked like rather than something from a textbook. It’s great to work with students over the years to provide this opportunity and familiarize them with Sargent & Lundy’s role in the industry.”