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From pioneering physicist George Alcorn to trailblazing engineer Camille Wardrop Alleyne, Howard University has a legacy of nurturing generations of STEM innovators. The Washington, D.C.-based historically Black university will be able to elevate and expand its efforts to empower budding mechanical engineers through a $1 million gift from Autodesk Inc.

The endowment is historic as it marks the largest unrestricted gift the institution’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has received. The donation will go towards the expansion of the College of Engineering and Architecture’s learning laboratories and manufacturing spaces.

Leaders at Howard say the endowment will help cultivate pathways for students within the industry by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive.

“With this generous support from Autodesk, we are further equipped to strategically expand our making facilities, which serve our mechanical engineering students and ensure that Howard University students continue to have pathways that enable them to collaborate and develop innovative technologies that serve the public interest,” College of Engineering and Architecture Dean John M. M. Anderson shared in a statement. “Autodesk’s continued support of our faculty and students also positively impacts our efforts to train and develop engineers who become tomorrow’s leaders in education, government and industry.”

Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick says the donation will be instrumental in advancing the over 115-year legacy of producing world-class engineers.

The endowment is just one element of the partnership Autodesk Inc. has fostered with Howard. The software corporation has teamed up with the HBCU on curriculum development efforts, has created an externship program where students can interactively learn about technical issues, and provides Howard scholars with free access to its software and digital learning tools. “The talented students at Howard University are future innovators, and with our gift, Autodesk is honored to play a role in ensuring they have the resources and technology available to prepare for their careers,” shared Autodesk president and CEO Andrew Anagnost.

Partnerships like the one cultivated between Autodesk and Howard are needed as the mechanical engineering space still lacks diversity. Research shows African Americans make up 3.1 percent of the industry.

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