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North of Green: 2017 Spring Edition
Obama Confirmed for Commencement

The 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama has been selected to deliver the charge to the graduates of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

"It is an honor to welcome President Obama to celebrate commencement with us this May. As the field of education has weathered dramatic changes, he has found innovative ways of engaging with citizens across the country. I know that his experiences will resonate with the Class of 2017 as they look beyond their time at University of Illinois." - Dean Andreas C. Cangellaris

The spring 2017 commencement exercise will continue the tradition of excellence, begun in 1868, of holding a single ceremony for undergraduates, masters, and PhD degree candidates at The State Farm Center. Obama will speak at the ceremony, scheduled to begin at 3:30pm. “I am honored to be invited to speak at such a respected, internationally recognized university,” says Obama. “I know Engineering @ Illinois graduates will be making major contributions in a myriad of fields after they leave this prestigious program. I hope that I’ll be able to give them some guidance and motivate them to conquer engineers top challenges as they start their careers.” In addition to his career as a politician and leader of the free world, Obama is a well-known civil rights advocate, and is working on a new book entitled, “Looking back on the last 3,000 days.” In January 2009, President Obama was sworn in as the President of the United States of America. He made history as the first Black President as well as the first president not born in one of the 48 contiguous states. During his 8 years as president, Obama made huge strides for civil rights as well as in healthcare for all. Prior to his presidential campaign, Obama was senator of Illinois. His dedication to the state has motivated his attendance at this year’s engineering commencement.

“I know Engineering @ Illinois graduates will be making major contributions … after they leave this prestigious program. I hope that I’ll be able to give them some guidance and motivate them to conquer science top challenges as they start their careers.” - President Barack Obama

“Due to the size and scope of continuing to celebrate in a single ceremony for Engineering @ Illinois, we were able to recruit a high-caliber speaker,” says Dean Kevin T. Pitts, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Program. “We aimed to have a renowned speaker with an engaging personality and dedication to STEM.” Obama as the top choice throughout the selection process, says Neil Bhide, Engineering Council President. “President Obama’s impactful career as a trailblazer for civil liberties, as well as his dedication to the field of STEM, make him ideal to inspire the Class of 2017 this May,” says Bhide. More information about commencement weekend — including parking, school and college ceremonies, and answers to many frequently asked questions — is available online, by phone at 843-732-8482 or by email at

Antonio's to Open Up Food Truck

Although beloved late-night pizzeria Antonio’s closed over the winter break, the owner has decided to pursue a new avenue of interest, much inspired by the new occupant of his former building. Now, the roles will soon be reversed, as Antonio’s will be opening up a food truck, placed near Springfield and Matthews during the day and outside Joe’s at night.

“We discovered that most of the business came from late night hours when students were looking for food after going to the bars. It only makes economical sense that we can continue to deliver this food at specific peak hours without needing to have a full physical location open most of the day.”- Antonio’s General Manager, Yazi Ferhi

Students who have caught wind of this early news are extremely pleased. Hackathon Hacker & Passionate ACM Member, Nikolas Kortendy expressed great satisfaction with the decision, saying it was "one of the greatest ways to end his senior year". Student leaders are also very happy with the prospects of future partnerships. “As an organizer for HackIllinois, UIUC’s premier hackathon, I can’t wait to ask them to cater for our event, since Cracked has done so for the past few years," says HackIllinois organizer Arnie Mishra.

Cracked Owner Daniel Krause was rather confused with the decision since it almost seems like a step down given the success of his food trucks and his recent purchase of Antonio's location. He also suggested a bit of healthy competition from an Antonio’s food truck

“Well, I appreciate what they’re doing, but let’s face it. There can only be one.”- Cracked Owner, Daniel Krause

206 Engineering Hall to Give Out Shamrock Cookies on Unofficial

The College of Engineering is launching a new program to increase student access to sustainable foods. The initiative is also expected to increase students’ campus involvement by promoting nutritional friendships. Faculty and staff have recently been talking about how to get students to regroup and reenergize between the first round of exams and Engineering Open House. With many engineering students spending hours at Grainger Library, the College is determined to ensure engineering students engage in this year’s festivities. As the initiative’s first action item, the deans and academic advisors in 206 Engineering Hall will be handing out organic shamrock cookies for Unofficial on March 3rd. This should help students remain productive as they continue with the rest of their day. The initiative is in partnership with the Student Sustainable Farm. Due to the warm February weather, the farm was able to start planting early and now have locally grown, organic wheat that will be used to make the cookies.

“I am very excited for cookies to be given out and for the students to have a healthy start to their day. I want the students to know that the College of Engineering supports their decisions to let loose and have fun, maybe the faculty and staff in 206 will.” - Senior Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs Umberto Ravaioli.

Computer Science Department introduces CS + CS major

With interest in the University of Illinois’s Computer Science department rising year by year, the College of Engineering is eager to approve more and more interdisciplinary majors to ease the strain on the department’s teaching faculty. Having seen great success in its CS+X degree programs, the Academic Senate is set to approve yet another by the end of this year: CS+CS. “At first, there were rumors circulating that this major would be a joint program with the Department of Crop Sciences, but we see no utility for our students in applying any sort of analytical science to growing things. To the ‘North of Springfield’ community, the Morrow Plots was a failed experiment.” Steve Herzog, the department’s Chief Advisor explains that the degree has a different focus entirely: “There has been much discussion here that we need to provide our graduates with more than just a computer science degree. We need to prepare them for the elite competitive world of Silicon Valley, and contrary to popular belief, many companies are actually turned off when they read a resume that shows a student took initiative in a field other than pure computer science.” The new program, CS+CS, will be a “Computer Science + Computer Science” major that augments the current computer science curriculum with more classes from that same curriculum, as well as closely related classes from other departments such as ECE 391, which CS+CS majors will be required to take (with CS 241 as a prerequisite). Another highlighted change is the added requirement to take a 500-level mathematics course (cross-listed in CS, of course) during which they will model the Brouwer fixed point theorem and the Jordan curve theorem in x86 assembly. Prospective students may worry about the feasibility of completing this elite degree within four years, but Herzog assures parents that “students in this new degree program will be exempt from general education requirements, including the new cultural competency requirements” approved by the student senate this year.

“There is no need to learn about the world around us. All companies want these days is code, code, and more code.” - CS Academic Advisor, Steve Herzog

MechSE Department to Open Two New Labs

Dr. Anthony Jacobi, Mechanical Science and Engineering Department Head, announced on Friday, February 24 the formation of another two new temporary laboratories: MechSE North and MechSE South. In these facilities, faculty and graduate students will conduct research while the Mechanical Engineering Building and the adjacent Sidney Lu Center for Learning and Innovation undergo construction.

“The MechSE Department is committed to provide the best facilities possible to our faculty and graduate students so that they can continue to innovate in various fields, which is why we developed the MechSE West, North, and South trifecta” — Mechanical Sciences and Engineering Department Head, Anthony Jacobi

MechSE North will be located in the first floor of the Digital Computer Lab in the space currently occupied by the Bioengineering Department, which will be vacant once it relocates to Everitt Laboratory. It will host laboratories dedicated to research in biomechanics as well as conference rooms for use by research groups. “We are very excited about this endeavour,” said Prof. Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler, Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs, who conducts research in this area. “We now have an opportunity to expand our research and academic capabilities.” MechSE South, on the other hand, will be located in the third floor of the Chemistry Annex, whose renovations will conclude at the end of the Spring 2017 semester. Research in the areas of elastodynamics and plasticity will be conducted in this facility. Prof. Alison Dunn, who focuses on polymer systems, is “thrilled to have facilities close to the Chemical Engineering Department. It is a great opportunity to combine both departments’ efforts in the study of polymers.” Construction of both facilities is expected to begin in Fall 2018 and finalized by Spring 2019. The laboratories will be relocated to MEB upon completion of renovations.

Hyperloop planned for Champaign

Can you imagine getting from Champaign to Chicago in under 20 minutes? This dream is about to become a reality with SpaceX’s newly contracted partnership with the University of Illinois’ Department of Aerospace Engineering (AE). There has been much deliberation and hesitation about the Hyperloop’s first location, and the company has been debating between India and North America. The United States’ harsh regulatory restrictions on new technologies make it for a hard sell, but also the company has taken into account the financial drawbacks of moving operations overseas.

"The proximity between the University and a big city combined with Illinois’ flat planes and the enthusiasm of the state and local government has made the planning of this pilot project possible." — SpaceX Representative, Maewyn Succat

CEO and Founder, Elon Musk’s decision to begin further development stemmed from a long standing relationship with University, among other key features of Illinois as a state. “The proximity between the University and a big city combined with Illinois’ flat planes and the enthusiasm of the state and local government has made the planning of this pilot project possible.” said SpaceX representative, Maewyn Succat.

"At this speed, travel from Champaign to Chicago or St. Louis would only take 20 minutes." —Kyle Weiskircher, Department of Aerospace Engineering

“The Hyperloop is poised to become the fifth mode of transportation and will be capable of transporting goods and people at speeds in excess of 700 mph at ground level ,” explained Kyle Weiskircher, Illinois AE graduate and captain of the Illini Hyperloop team. “ At this speed, travel from Champaign to Chicago or St. Louis would only take 20 minutes. Our vehicle should achieve speeds in excess of 300 mph . . .

Constructions plans are scheduled to begin as early as 2018, and Musk has some regulatory hurtles to overcome, but the company still maintains its decision to move forward “. . .it is the change this country needs, and standing around waiting is not going to move promote progress.” said SpaceX in a letter to the College Of Engineering’s Public Relations Office.