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Called to the Frontiers: Innovation in Our Third Century

In addition to renovating four science labs since 2017, SLUH recently finished construction on the James Guth Costigan '62 Innovation Lab (a gift of the Guth Foundation). This new 5,200-square-foot innovation commons will help capture the creative mind of the community, explore innovative ways to learn about God’s creation and ultimately improve our planet.

The Innovation Lab, adjacent to the Si Commons on the lower level, features a central workshop, computer/planning area, woodworking shop, group meeting area, Robotics/STEM Club room, flex classroom with tables and presentation media, and room for storage. It will provide teaching and work space for a variety of academic departments and student clubs.

Jesuit Tradition

Two large murals designed by fine arts teacher Sean Powers '05 greet visitors as they enter the Innovation Lab. 

Eastern mural: The background is a colorized copy of Andrea Pozzo’s painted ceiling in the Chapel of St. Ignatius at the Bellarmine College Rome. On top of the background is an old crest of the Society of Jesus and the phrase “Called to the Frontiers,” echoed by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis to the Jesuits. This design simultaneously reinforces the school’s Ignatian character while inspiring students working in the innovation commons to strive to endeavor creatively in their work.


Western mural: Eighteen Jesuit innovators are missioned by Christ, who states, “As the Father has sent me, so now I send you.” These men spread God's Greater Glory to the world through their intellect, ingenuity and spirit in fields such as math, science, astronomy, exploration, engineering and linguistics. The design inspiration, with a “hand-drawn” appearance and textured blue and gray background, comes from the iconographic liturgical artwork of a contemporary Benedictine monk, Fr. Martin Erspamer.

View the 18 Jesuit innovators on the western mural in the following slideshow.

Making Makers

Our latest INSIGNIS podcast episode focuses on the "maker movement" in education and life at SLUH. Conversations about hands-on learning and project-based learning, in addition to our new Innovation Lab, are hot topics at the U. High. In this program, we hear from:

  • Joan Bugnitz (fine arts teacher) discusses her own art and the formative potential of visual arts for students;
  • Geoff Bull '92 (engineering and science teacher at West Point and a field engineer for the U.S. Army) talks about what it takes to form and encourage an engineer and how his experiences at SLUH shaped him;
  • Jeff Pitts (director of the Clavius Project, moderator of our Robotics Team and former plant manager for the Anheuser Busch Brewery) tells the story of his own formation as an engineer and the remarkable work of SLUH students that he supports; and
  • SLUH's Hackathon Team, named "Best Start-Up" at a competition in Chicago last summer.

Innovation Evolution

Construction on the Innovation Lab began early in the 2017-18 school year and was finished by the end of 2018. Planning for this new space continues to progress and is expected to be ready for academic and program use this fall. See how Innovation Lab construction unfolded in the following slideshow. (Photos by Drew Walters '21.)


Innovation in Action

The Robotics Club successfully completed the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition build season. Over six weeks, the RoboBills designed, built and programmed the robot (pictured with the team in the Innovation Lab). The competition is March 13-16 at SLU’s Chaifetz Arena.

The RoboBills keep busy throughout the year with the Clavius Project, which brings STEM education to St. Louis urban middle schools. The Clavius Project held its fourth annual Robotics Jamboree at SLUH on February 23, with 400 middle school students participating in team competitions.


New Innovation Course Partners with Alumni

This fall SLUH is offering a new course focused on the creation of an innovative product that will help others. Local alumni are invited to serve as mentors as part of the class.

The course will feature creative development, design planning and production using a variety of resources that may include the Innovation Lab. Students will learn the skills required for innovation and apply what they have learned at SLUH in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to imagine, design, create and promote an innovative product. At the end of the course, they will present their product to faculty members, parents and their peers.

Mentors will help students throughout the design and production process. Each mentor will be paired with a student and will meet 4-8 times during the semester to guide and encourage the student in the process.

Interested in mentoring? Contact math and computer science teacher Dan See at dsee@sluh.org.




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