Autodesk's $5 million donation to Howard University will help Black students enter the engineering workforce and diversify the field.

Autodesk donates $5M to Howard University


The donation marks the largest-ever gift to Howard University’s College of Engineering and Architecture

Key points:

Through a $5 million donation to Howard University’s College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA)–the largest unrestricted philanthropic donation in the College’s history–Autodesk is expanding its partnership with the HBCU and focusing on building diversity in the workforce.

Only 3 percent of today’s mechanical engineers in the U.S. are Black, according to research from career and jobs website Zippia. Autodesk is committed to helping build a more diverse workforce and preparing all future engineers for a rapidly-evolving workforce.

The record-setting gift will ensure that Howard’s new state-of-the-art Design and Make lab will have the software, cutting-edge 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,” said 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.”

Access to these resources in education is increasingly critical as AI and digital transformation are altering the most in-demand skills for Design and Make industries–which today represent 300 million employees globally and will reflect $30 trillion in economic value by 2027.* Today, 41 percent of industry professionals say the ability to implement and work with AI is the top technical skill they are hiring for over the next three years. Educating students with experiential technology training is table stakes to ensure early success in their careers.

“At Autodesk, our software not only helps people Design and Make things; we also help shape tomorrow’s Design and Make leaders,” said 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. We’re honored to support Howard University’s students on their journeys to building the future.”

“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,” said Nadir Yilmaz, Ph.D., P.E., professor and 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 award-winning, 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,” said 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 longstanding partnership between Autodesk and Dr. Nadir Yilmaz, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University. Dr. Yilmaz and his department faculty have been leveraging Autodesk software in their classrooms for the past six years. Autodesk proudly offers its software for free to students and educators worldwide in its commitment to prepare the next generation to design and make the future.

Sources:
*StatistaStatistaOxford Economics & PWC

This press release originally appeared online.

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