MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering is receiving a gift of $1 million over five years from Minneapolis-based Valspar Corp. The gift, provided through the Valspar Foundation, will be used to provide equipment for the university’s new undergraduate laboratory, an essential component of modern education and research in materials science.

The new Valspar Materials Science and Engineering Lab will be located in the Gore Annex of Amundson Hall at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Construction will be completed this summer, and students will begin benefitting from the new lab when classes begin in the fall, with full completion in early 2015. The lab will include testing equipment that characterizes the mechanical performance of materials, electron microscopes that image at the nanoscale, and other equipment that can measure magnetic, electrical and optical properties.

The gift announcement comes as Valspar completes a major expansion of its Minneapolis R&D facility. The Valspar Applied Science and Technology Center will enable the current campus to accommodate up to 135 additional researchers and technologists.

The University of Minnesota’s materials science and engineering program has seen tremendous growth in demand as a wide range of companies, from oil companies to computer chip manufacturers, to medical device companies, begin recognizing this emerging field as critical to their success, noted Frank Bates, head of the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. In just the last few decades, the number of materials science and engineering students at the University of Minnesota has increased four-fold.