Howard University College of Engineering and Architecture Receives $5M Record-Setting Gift from Autodesk

Howard University engineering students

From The Dig:

June 5, 2024 -- Autodesk Inc., the global leader in software for the Design and Make industries, announced today a $5 million gift to Howard University’s College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA) – the largest unrestricted philanthropic donation in CEA’s history. This 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.”  

According to research from career and jobs website Zippia, only 3% of mechanical engineers in the United States are Black. Together, Autodesk and the renowned Historically Black College and University (HBCU) are committed to increasing opportunities for this under-represented cohort and ensuring equal opportunities for hands-on software training for future engineers.

“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.   

Today, 41% 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.”  

Howard University will unveil the state-of-the-art lab in fall 2024 to serve as a hub for interdisciplinary collaboration across the University.   

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 of the program in 1986.  

“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 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. 


*Autodesk’s State of Design and Make ReportAutodesk surveyed nearly 5,400 industry leaders, futurists, and experts from the following industries: architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO); design and manufacturing (D&M), and media and entertainment (M&E) to glean insights on how digital transformation is driving business resilience, powering sustainability efforts, and shaping the future of work.  


College of Engineering and Architecture and Mechanical Engineering