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MSOE to open 10,000-square-foot STEM education center this fall


Partnership with We Energies, Rockwell Automation and American Family Insurance creates dynamic hub for STEM education.

Jim Buchheim, American Family community and social impact officer
“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."
Jim Buchheim, American Family community and social impact officer

Milwaukee School of Engineering, along with three corporate partners: We Energies, Rockwell Automation and American Family Insurance, will open the We Energies STEM Center at MSOE this fall. The new center will be the premier STEM destination in Milwaukee for students of all ages and home to all of MSOE’s STEM outreach efforts. These programs are designed to introduce students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing access to resources, mentoring, and hands-on, experience-based learning—a hallmark of an MSOE education. (See renderings of the new center above.)

“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 Dr. 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.”

See a 1:43 fly-through video rendering of the new center:

MSOE and its three industry partners are committed to building on this success and reaching even more students from a variety of backgrounds. The center will enable MSOE to continue to grow its in-house programming while providing unique opportunities to collaborate on programs with K-12 schools, local companies, community groups and organizations. The We Energies STEM Center at MSOE will be built in existing campus space at ground-level on the northern side of Pamela and Hermann Viets Field,1305 N. Broadway.

We Energies, Rockwell Automation and American Family each bring a unique contribution to the STEM center project, all to support the shared goal of providing opportunities to bring together schools, local companies, community groups and organizations to create impactful, inclusive programming. The purpose is to provide an accessible, dedicated space for all K-12 students to explore, create and define their future in STEM.

We Energies is creating an opportunity that enables students from any school—public, private, charter and homeschool—to have access to hands-on, one-of-a-kind STEM experiences.

“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 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 Automation is making it possible for MSOE to continue to support and expand the opportunities for all students to participate in STEM programs. MSOE students, alumni and partners who mentor and support For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) teams will have a dedicated place to enable all students to “go pro” in STEM through FIRST. Local teams will have access to dedicated storage space, tools and work equipment. The Rockwell Automation-sponsored FIRST Robotics development zone will include space for a 1,500-square-foot playing field area where teams will have plenty of space to test their designs and practice for competitions. The center is an opportunity to decrease barriers, and give students access to resources they need to be successful in their STEM-related extracurricular activities.

“At Rockwell Automation we believe in expanding human possibility. In our communities, we make investments in students; our makers, builders, innovators,” said Patricia Contreras, Rockwell Automation director of community relations. “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. 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.”

Employment in STEM-related jobs is expected to grow at 16% in the United States, far outpacing all other employment fields. In addition, jobs in STEM fields earn on average 10% more than jobs with similar education requirements. At the same time, there is a critical need for a more diverse workforce. Diversity and inclusion are an intentional and integrated part of the strategy for the STEM Center to truly empower and support all students in their exploration of STEM futures.

To support this, American Family is actively building a pipeline where all students have an equal opportunity to explore, engage and succeed in STEM fields, specifically in tech fields. American Family will bring expertise, guidance and support to programs ranging from artificial intelligence to coding for students of all ages.

“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.”

The university is targeting a fall opening for the We Energies STEM Center at MSOE and looks forward to a strong future of STEM education. Staff, faculty, K-12 educators, community and corporate partners are committed to operating the center following health guidelines. The center will be the headquarters for all of MSOE’s K-12 community STEM programming. That programming can take place in a number of ways, including virtual, should the pandemic situation require so.

Construction begins June 15 on the We Energies STEM Center at MSOE. Uilhelin/Wilson – Ramlow/Stein Architects are the project developers and Catalyst Construction is the construction manager. Additionally, 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.

Watch this 3:40 video featuring comments from the three MSOE partners, including Jim Buchheim from American Family Insurance.


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About Milwaukee School of Engineering
MSOE is the university of choice for those seeking an inclusive community of experiential learners driven to solve the complex challenges of today and tomorrow. The independent, non-profit university has about 2,800 students and was founded in 1903. MSOE offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, business and nursing. Faculty are student-focused experts who bring real-world experience into the classroom. This approach to learning makes students ready now as well as prepared for the future. Longstanding partnerships with business and industry leaders enable students to learn alongside professional mentors, and challenge them to go beyond what’s possible. MSOE graduates are leaders of character, responsible professionals, passionate learners and value creators.

About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin,
 American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes American Family Connect Property and Casualty Insurance Company, the proposed new legal name of Ameriprise Auto & Home, The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.

About We Energies
We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers and 1.1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. We Energies is the trade name of the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and Wisconsin Gas LLC, utility subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group Inc. (NYSE: WEC). Visit We Energies at and WEC Energy Group at

About Rockwell Automation
Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), is a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation. We connect the imaginations of people with the potential of technology to expand what is humanly possible, making the world more productive and more sustainable. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs approximately 23,000 problem solvers dedicated to our customers in more than 100 countries. To learn more about how we are bringing The Connected Enterprise to life across industrial enterprises, visit


Media contact for MSOE:
JoEllen Burdue