MSOE to build STEM education center

Project supported by We Energies, American Family, Rockwell Automation

A rendering of the FIRST Robotics playing field in the We Energies STEM Center at MSOE.

Last updated on June 17th, 2020 at 02:45 pm

Milwaukee School of Engineering will open a new STEM education center on its campus this fall in partnership with We Energies, Rockwell Automation and American Family Insurance.

The 10,000-square-foot We Energies STEM Center at MSOE will be the hub for the school’s K-12 community STEM programming for Milwaukee area students.

The center will be built in the ground floor space on the north side of the parking structure that is topped by Herman Viets Field at 1305 N. Broadway.

The idea for the STEM center traces back to a city-wide visioning session last fall about what needed be done to move the needle forward in STEM fields. Representatives from more than 70 corporate, nonprofit and K-12 partners attended event.

The center will allow MSOE to grow its in-house programming while also partnering on programs with K-12 schools, local companies, community groups and organizations, the school said. The programs are designed to introduce students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing access to resources, mentoring, and hands-on, experience-based learning.

“In 2017, MSOE made a strategic investment in STEM outreach by establishing a dedicated department to grow, sustain and develop a comprehensive STEM pipeline for all students in Milwaukee and beyond. Since then, the number of students who have participated in our programs has quadrupled. We have reached more than 10,000 students from 150 K-12 schools,” said John Walz, MSOE president. “The We Energies STEM Center at MSOE is a game changer and we are grateful to have the support of We Energies, Rockwell Automation and American Family, among others.”

We Energies’ support is making the programming available to students from all school types, including public, private, charter and homeschool.

“Education is the critical catalyst for the communities we serve and STEM feeds and fuels everything we do as a company. This facility will provide critical hands-on learning opportunities and open avenues for students to participate in programs they may not otherwise have access to,” said Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO of We Energies parent corporation WEC Energy Group, and an MSOE regent. “We’re excited to partner with MSOE to engage and grow future leaders who will shape not only the energy industry, but also our world.”

Rockwell is supporting a dedicated space for MSOE students, alumni and partners who mentor and support FIRST Robotics teams. The FIRST Robotics development zone will include a 1,500-square-foot playing field area where teams will have space to test their designs and practice for competitions.

“Our commitment to address the opportunity and the belief gap for underrepresented students starts with our financial investments amplified by employee mentorship in our global headquarters, here in Milwaukee,” said Patricia Contreras, Rockwell Automation director of community relations. “Through the STEM center, the power of innovation + technology + mentorship will inspire young minds. We know this partnership with MSOE will empower and inspire students to make the impossible possible.”

In addition to the playing field, the center will include four team cages for FIRST Robotics, four general office and conference spaces, a flexible technology studio, a design and development lab, a machining and tooling area, an outdoor collaboration area and 3D printers.

American Family will provide the center with expertise, guidance and support to programs ranging from artificial intelligence to coding for students, MSOE said.

“American Family is committed to Milwaukee, and as a partner and future neighbor, we’re proud to support MSOE and its passion to expand STEM education,” said Jim Buchheim, American Family community and social impact officer. “This center will provide a tremendous opportunity for a diverse group of students to participate in high-quality tech learning and prepare for successful STEM careers.”

Construction on the center begins this week, with plans to open the facility in the fall.

Uilhelin/Wilson – Ramlow/Stein Architects are the project developers and Catalyst Construction is the construction manager.

Milwaukee Tool has agreed to gift tools to help outfit the new STEM Center. MSOE Corporation member Scott Haag and his wife Linda have also made a gift in support of this project.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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