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Valspar Invests $1M in Student Research

Monday, March 3, 2014

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The world's sixth-largest paint and coatings maker has given $1 million to the University of Minnesota to further materials-science research at its Minneapolis campus.

Valspar Corp., headquartered in Minneapolis, says the new Valspar Materials Science and Engineering Lab, underwritten by the company, is expected to open this fall to students in the university's Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Gore Annex
University of Minnesota

The new Valspar Materials Science and Engineering Lab will be located at the University of Minnesota's new Gore Annex of Amundson Hall.

The Valspar Foundation's gift to the university's College of Science and Engineering will be used to provide equipment for the new undergraduate laboratory.

'Second to None'

The Valspar lab will be located in the department's Gore Annex of Amundson Hall, a $27.6 million, 40,000-square-foot addition that is expected to be completed later this year. The lab will be opened in the fall, although full completion is not expected until early next year.

The lab will include testing equipment that characterizes the mechanical performance of materials; electron micoscopes 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 Dr. Frank S. Bates, head of the 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.”

Hometown Partnership

The lab is part of a larger alliance between Valspar, the world's sixth-largest paint and coatings company, and the university. Valspar said the company and university have a "shared mission to develop world-class materials science and products" and can collaborate in close proximity.

Frank S. Bates Cynthia Arnold
MIT (left); Valspar (right)

Dr. Frank S. Bates, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, said the gift will help create a program that is "second to none." Valspar's Dr. Cynthia Arnold called the university "a strong match" for the company.

The gift announcement comes as Valspar completes a $30 million expansion of its Minneapolis R&D facility. With completion scheduled for this spring, the Valspar Applied Science and Technology (VAST) 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 Dr. 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.”

Expanding Field

The University of Minnesota’s materials science and engineering program has "seen tremendous growth in demand" as a wide range of companies "begin recognizing this emerging field as critical to their success," the university said.

VAST Center Lab
Valspar Corp.

Valspar is also completing its $30 million Valspar Applied Science and Technology (VAST) Center, which will allow the campus to accommodate up to 135 additional researchers.

The materials-science field has drawn in oil companies, computer chip manufacturers, medical device companies, and others. In recent decades, the number of materials science and engineering students in the University of Minnesota program has increased four-fold, the university said.

“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.”


Tagged categories: Coatings manufacturers; Coatings Technology; Coatings technology; Research; Valspar

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