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Howard University Receives Record-Breaking $5M Donation From Autodesk

The software company recently made a $5 million donation to Howard’s College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA)

As one of the nation’s beloved historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Howard University has been committed to equipping Black students with the resources and information needed to not only survive and take up space in the world but also to thrive. A recent gift from Autodesk is helping them do so, which is the largest monetary gift received in the school’s history.

The software company recently made a $5 million donation to Howard’s College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA). It will be used to help support students as they work toward mastering artificial intelligence, ESSENCE reported.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

As the largest unrestricted philanthropic donation in Howard’s 157-year history, the funds will be used to equip Howard’s engineering school with the innovative tools needed to further incorporate AI and digital transformation into the student’s everyday curriculum.

“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.

With “just 3% of today’s US mechanical engineering population” consisting of Black workers, the San Francisco-based software company is more committed than ever when it comes to “building a more diverse workforce and preparing future engineers for a rapidly evolving workforce.”

“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.”

As a result of the donation, Howard anticipates opening the doors to its Design and Make lab in 2025.