CHAMPAIGN – At the University of Illinois Research Park, State Farm Insurance runs a consumer research center, Caterpillar operates a simulation center and Archer Daniels Midland has a mathematical modeling center.
Over the years, park tenants have come to include large companies with satellite research operations or local startup companies like R Systems, which built a supercomputer in the park.
Nic DiFilippo's fourth-hour class at Mahomet-Seymour High School buzzes with activity as some students navigate video-editing software on professional grade computers while others adjust lighting in front of a green screen propped against his classroom's chalkboard.
But there's more to this class than just kids fooling around with technology. DiFilippo thinks his video-editing class is the only in the nation to be producing a regular show for a Web site.
CHAMPAIGN – Area companies say it's hard to find workers with all the skills needed to keep manufacturing equipment humming.
But a new program at Parkland College should make it easier for them.
CHAMPAIGN – Nine years ago, Willie Cade started a company to refurbish old computers so schools and nonprofits could use them.
Since then, he and his employees have refurbished 40,000 personal computers – equipment that otherwise might have ended up in landfills.
DANVILLE – Some employees and visitors at the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex are getting exercise this week walking up and down stairs, because the four-story building's elevator is out of order and will be for several weeks.
Maintenance employees discovered last week that the nearly 50-year-old elevator was leaking hydraulic fluid, so it's been shut down while county officials seek bids for its repair or replacement, according to Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon.
CHAMPAIGN – One of these days, fifth-graders will be trooping through the big building at the corner of Oak Street and St. Mary's Road.
Maybe they'll tap the bulletproof glass at the reception window as they wait their turn to go through the "man trap," the rotating door that will get you if you don't really have authorization to be there. Or maybe they'll get to blink at the iris reader instead.
CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College is about to break ground on a diesel center that's part of a program where 100 percent of students get a job.
The groundbreaking ceremony for Parkland College's new Diesel Technology Addition will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday at the campus's Tony Noel Agriculture Technology Applications Center.
URBANA – More than 800 pictures, title abstracts and maps showing the history of homes and neighborhoods in Champaign County are available online through the Urbana Free Library.
"Historic Champaign County Neighborhoods and Homes" is seen as a "first phase of a portal" to a digital record of the county, according to Anke Voss, director of the historical Champaign County archive at the library.
CHAMPAIGN – Nine years after Quesnell Hartmann and Dave Ahmari started a high-tech company in Champaign, it turned out pretty much as they expected.
It just took longer to get there than they imagined.
Along the way, the founders of EpiWorks had to deal with fallout from the "tech bubble," 9/11 and last year's collapse of the financial markets.
"We didn't expect to have so many large things happen in a handful of years," said Ahmari, the company's executive vice president for business development.
"There are so many things that can affect a business that are out of your control," he said. "You have to take into account how much craziness can happen."
URBANA – It's been a difficult year for many businesses, but two local companies said Thursday they won't let that stand in their way.
The chief executive officer of Champaign-based EpiWorks outlined his company's plan to expand into solar technologies, and the founder of iCyt Mission Technology introduced a new piece of cell-sorting equipment the company plans to distribute internationally.