Fotsch Family Machine Design laboratory

Machine Design Lab

The Fotsch Family Machine Design Laboratory is equipped with workbenches, tools, instruments, computers, data acquisition systems, and an assortment of machines and mechanical systems to enhance creative exploration and investigation. The machines and systems include motorcycle engine assemblies (engines and transmissions), bicycles (including a chain-less bicycle and a custom front-wheeldrive, rear-wheel-steer bicycle), a go-kart chassis, a Machine Fault Simulator training station, and various other systems (industrial gearboxes and gear-motors, automotive transmission and differential, drill presses, etc.)  

The Machine Fault Simulator (SpectraQuest, Inc.) is designed to create a range of common machinery conditions and faults, such as unbalance, misalignment, resonance, normal and worn bearing operation, normal and damaged gearbox operation, belt drive slippage and resonance, reciprocating mechanism operation, etc. The simulator can be pre-configured with components to present undesirable operating conditions, and then students are asked to identify the fault in a reverse-engineering approach.


In our lab's experiments, students face a range of real-world tasks: identify and select components, measure parameters (dimensions, speed, force), distinguish between normal and used (worn) components and between proper and abnormal behavior, reverse engineer systems, and justify design choices. The experiments serve to motivate the theory and spark interest in the subject of machine design.

Student Involvement

We welcome undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in developing new experiments related to machine design. The laboratory has received many donations from industry that can give students practical experiences and expose them to physical hardware and real-world design challenges. Interested parties should contact the lab director.

Lab Director

Dr. Allison Murray
Assistant Professor