Funding will equip seven new labs for Engineering, Computing and other studies

Interior rendering of the Innovation Center lab space.

St. Mary’s University will receive more than $5.5 million in federal appropriations, secured by Congressman Joaquin Castro, who represents U.S. House District 20, to help fund the construction of the Blank Sheppard Innovation Center. This funding was signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus appropriations law, which also included more than $10 million procured by Castro for additional San Antonio community projects.

St. Mary’s University and its School of Science, Engineering and Technology broke ground on the three-story Blank Sheppard Innovation Center in October 2022. The additional $5,561,000 will help build and equip seven new laboratories on the first two floors of the state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot center.

The Blank Sheppard Innovation Center will support advanced manufacturing research and instruction. It will also promote outreach with industry and community partners engaged in engineering, computing and related scientific disciplines. The third floor will become home to a planned Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“Thanks to this significant, new federal funding, the programs in the Blank Sheppard Innovation Center will improve the educational opportunities for our students, many of whom are from neighborhoods in Congressional District 20, San Antonio’s West Side and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Thomas M. Mengler, J.D., President of St. Mary’s University. “Also, because so many of our students, whether from San Antonio or not, wish to pursue careers in our great city upon graduation, the Innovation Center will promote economic and research development in San Antonio for many years to come.”

“I have always fought to ensure San Antonio receives its fair share of funding so our community can continue to thrive,” Castro said. “That’s why I am glad to have gotten more than $5.5. million included in the 2023 federal funding bill to help St. Mary’s University construct and equip an innovation center that will create even greater opportunities for students as they work to pursue degrees and enter the workforce. I look forward to seeing the Center bring together bright minds in the advancement of cutting-edge research as well as host a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that will strengthen our city and state’s health care system.”

Innovation Center rendering exterior front

Construction of the building is scheduled for completion in 2024, including the seven labs funded by these appropriations, which will include spaces dedicated to:

  • Robotics and smart manufacturing
  • Measurement and instrumentation
  • Human factors engineering
  • Additive manufacturing and reverse engineering
  • Data science and machine learning
  • Innovation, entrepreneurship and supply chain
  • An Engineering design studio

The new labs will serve up to 400 students a year, including the entire Engineering student body, students in computing programs or those earning the Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity, and students from other disciplines. The spaces will also be utilized by about 30 faculty members each year and about 20 industry partners sponsoring student project work. The resources of the Center will be made available to the local manufacturing base for projects, training and technology demonstration.

For more information and to watch the construction live, visit the Innovation Center’s webpage.

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