Liam James Doyle/University of St. Thomas

Donor Gift Funds Robotics and Automation Lab for Schoenecker Center at St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas School of Engineering announced it received a generous gift commitment of $1 million from Henry and Angelena Blattner’s Foundation 94. This funding will help support the construction of a new facility to house multiple robotic arms within the Schoenecker Center.

An aerial photo of construction crews working on the Schoenecker Center on south campus. Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas
An aerial photo of construction crews working on the Schoenecker Center on south campus. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

Upon completion, the new Robotics and Automation Laboratory will be a 900-square-foot facility for robotics and automation research, in addition to hands-on experiential learning for all undergraduate and graduate students attending the School of Engineering. It will be essential to creating new avenues for industrial collaboration and research in the growing fields of advanced manufacturing.

“Hands-on robotics research and lab experiences are foundational components of engineering education at St. Thomas,” said Don Weinkauf, dean of the School of Engineering. “Through this gift, combined with generous support from our corporate partners, students will feel an immediate impact on their experience.”

Thanks to this gift from Foundation 94, St. Thomas students and faculty will have access to state-of-the-art automation technology right in the heart of St. Paul, including two six-axis robotic arms – one that is geared toward high-speed and high-load industrial applications and another that is used for collaborative tasks with nearby human operators.

In addition to tackling pressing robotics research questions involving machine vision, part manipulation and assembly, this advanced technology will enable large-scale manufacturing automation and process development projects focused on specific industrial applications, such as medical devices.

STEAM complex exterior rendering.
The first-of-its-kind Schoenecker Center will open its doors in 2024, fostering an inclusive approach to interdisciplinary education.

“St. Thomas already boasts impressive engineering facilities; we are pleased to be able to donate to the new Schoenecker Center and for the opportunities it will provide to current and future Tommies,” the Blattner family said. 

The Schoenecker Center – set to open for classes in 2024 – will be a world-class complex, aimed at fostering interdisciplinary learning, including science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Learn more about the Schoenecker Center and STEAM education at St. Thomas here.