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Valspar Donates $1 million for New University of Minnesota Materials Science and Engineering Lab

January 30, 2014

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering  will receive a gift of $1 million over five years from Minneapolis-based Valspar Corporation,  provided through the Valspar Foundation.  This gift will be used to provide high-tech equipment for the University’s new undergraduate laboratory, an essential component of modern education and research in materials science.

The new Valspar Materials Science and Engineering Lab will be located in the Gore Annex of Amundson Hall at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.  Construction will be completed in summer this year and students will begin benefitting from the new lab when classes begin in fall, with full completion in early 2015. The lab will include testing equipment that characterizes the mechanical performance of materials, electron microscopes that image at the nanoscale, and other equipment that can measure magnetic, electrical and optical properties.

“This gift from Valspar allows us to grow our undergraduate materials science and engineering program and outfit the new lab with state-of-the-art equipment that is second to none,” said Frank Bates, head of the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. “We are thankful for Valspar’s support and forward-looking mission to help us build one of the best materials science and engineering programs in the country.”

Valspar’s shared mission to develop world-class materials science and products, along with proximity of research laboratories were primary factors in the company’s decision to award the gift. The gift announcement  comes as Valspar completes a major expansion of its Minneapolis R&D facility. With completion scheduled for this spring, the Valspar Applied Science and Technology Center will enable the current campus to accommodate up to 135 additional researchers and technologists.

“The alliance of Valspar with the University of Minnesota is clearly a strong match with our strategy for science and innovation leadership in the coatings industry,” said Cynthia Arnold, Valspar’s senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Valspar will benefit from the University’s outstanding interdisciplinary program for materials science, a specific coatings program, and proximity to one of our major research laboratories.”

The University of Minnesota’s materials science and engineering program has seen tremendous growth in demand as a wide range of companies, from oil companies to computer chip manufacturers, to medical device companies, begin recognizing this emerging field as critical to their success, Bates said. In just the last few decades the number of materials science and engineering students at the University of Minnesota has increased four-fold.

“The University grew the materials science and engineering program very purposefully with world-class faculty, quality graduate programs, and now a robust undergraduate program,” Bates said. “This new lab will allow us to deliver on our promise of excellence and put Minnesota at the forefront in materials science and engineering.”