Autodesk Gives $5M to Howard University

Gift reportedly largest ever given to university’s College of Engineering and Architecture.

Gift reportedly largest ever given to university’s College of Engineering and Architecture.

Howard University students in the classroom. Image courtesy of Howard University.

Autodesk is committed to helping build a more diverse workforce and preparing all future engineers for the quickly evolving workforce.

That’s why Autodesk is expanding on its longstanding partnership with historically black college and university (HBCU), Howard University, with a $5 million donation to its College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA)—the largest unrestricted philanthropic donation in the College’s history.

This gift is intended to ensure that Howard’s new Design and Make lab will have the software, equipment, and educators to teach aspiring engineers for years to come.

“We are immensely grateful for Autodesk’s gift to Howard’s College of Engineering and Architecture,” says Howard University president Ben Vinson III, Ph.D. “Howard is a leader in graduating Black engineers, and this gift will expand our ability to provide our students with the best and latest resources throughout the course of their education here. This is increasingly important to us as competition for entry-level jobs continues to increase and as the need for tech and AI skills becomes all the more critical.”

“At Autodesk, our software not only helps people Design and Make things; we also help shape tomorrow’s Design and Make leaders,” says Andrew Anagnost, president and CEO of Autodesk. “It’s imperative that educators and industry leaders work together to prepare students for an ever-changing workforce, and technology companies like Autodesk have a critical role to play in bridging the gap.”

“This generous gift, in addition to the previously donated $1M to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is a result of our exemplary industry-academia partnership with Autodesk for the last six years, which has already resulted in curriculum development with industry-grade software, and mechanical engineering graduates with advanced skills. All of these efforts will be used for the long-term development and sustainability of establishing a diverse engineering workforce,” says Nadir Yilmaz, Ph.D., P.E., professor, chair of Howard University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Howard University’s Design and Make lab, expected to open in 2025, will serve as a hub for interdisciplinary collaboration across the university. The donation will fund the lab’s longevity, expand its on-site equipment for experiential learning, and hire the best-in-class educators.

The lab will also support K-12 activities to inspire young students to explore STEM through the incorporation of SAE International’s hands-on A World in Motion (AWIM) PreK-12 STEM program in partnership with the SAE Foundation, which supports equitable access to STEM through SAE’s AWIM Program and has reached more than 6 million students since the inception.

“The opening of the lab will enable students to transform their budding design ideas into working prototypes. Through their use of the lab’s Design and Making technology and peer collaborations, students will have immersive learning experiences that connect theoretical knowledge with real-world problems that require diverse teams. The opportunities afforded by a facility like this are a driver for innovation,” says John M. M. Anderson, Ph.D., dean of CEA.

Autodesk’s gift in support of the Design and Make lab is in part a result of the partnership between Autodesk and Dr. Nadir Yilmaz. Dr. Yilmaz and his department faculty have been leveraging Autodesk software in their classrooms for 6 years. Autodesk offers its software for free to students and educators worldwide.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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