Moon habitat named 'Coolest Thing Made in Illinois'

SPRINGFIELD - The Rosenberg Moon Habitat was named 2023's "Coolest Thing Made in Illinois" Wednesday in a contest hosted by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association.

The habitat is manufactured by Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford, in collaboration with the Institut auf dem Rosenberg of Switzerland. At a height of 23 feet, the structure is designed to house two people at a time on the moon and is the world's tallest single-piece 3D printed polymer structure.

"The habitat represents the very best of our state's manufacturing industry, where creativity and determination turn dreams into reality - including living on the moon," Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, said in a statement. "We are proud of the wide variety of products featured throughout this year's competition, and hope this contest shines a light on the important work taking place on factory floors across Illinois every day."

The annual "Makers Madness" contest is a bracket-style competition to celebrate manufacturers across Illinois. This year's winner was announced at the Governor's Mansion Wednesday and the contest is sponsored by Comcast Business.

The Rosenberg Moon Habitat beat out an initial field of 250 entries and emerged on top of three other finalists including the Drug Terminator, a portable drug incinerator designed to safely destroy prescription drugs or confiscated narcotics.

The habitat also defeated 17th Street Barbeque Sauces, which come in various flavors, and the 77GHz Radar for Driver's Assistance and Automated Driving, which is a compact sensor that provides more precise warnings for drivers.

"Making the coolest thing today just means we can keep making the coolest things in Illinois tomorrow, and for future generations," Jeff Ahrstrom, CEO of Ingersoll Machine Tools, said as he accepted the award Wednesday.

The governor used the opportunity to praise Illinois' economic milestones, including receiving eight credit upgrades, surpassing $1 trillion in annual economic value and paying off the state's short-term debt.

"We've incentivized growth in Illinois and it is working," Pritzker said in his speech. "Our great state has always been a land of innovation and today, because of you, Illinois is home to over 18,000 manufacturers that employ over 600,000 residents up and down the state."

Last year's winner was Rivian's all-electric R1T truck. Previous winners include a Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater by Termico Technologies, which heats traffic signals so they remain free of snow or ice, and the 797F Mining Truck by Caterpillar, the world's largest mechanical truck.

Jeff Ahrstrom, CEO of Ingersoll Machine Tools, accepts the 2023 award for "Coolest Thing Made in Illinois for its moon habitat. Also pictured are, from left, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, lllinois Manufacturers' Association President Mark Denzler and Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Nika Schoonover/Capitol News Illinois
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