One of the most rewarding parts of my role on the Autodesk education team is the opportunity to support the next generation of designers and engineers as they prepare for the future of work. I form close relationships with educators who are helping students gain the in-demand skills for the roles of tomorrow.
Over the last five years, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Howard University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. I’ve led Fusion 360 workshops for students, partnered with educators on curriculum development, and ensured that students take full advantage of their free access to Autodesk’s professional-level design software.
And to build on our relationship, today, I’m honored to highlight This gift is the largest donation ever for Howard’s mechanical engineering department and is intended to help expand its manufacturing and making facilities, as well as its services to students. As this funding is unrestricted, university leadership can allocate the funds where they are most needed.
“Howard University is grateful to receive this donation from Autodesk in support of our Department of Mechanical Engineering. Our College of Engineering and Architecture has produced world-class engineers for more than 115 years, and this gift will allow us to strengthen and expand support for our talented students,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, president of Howard University.
According to research from career and jobs website Zippia, currently only 3.1% of mechanical engineers in the United States are Black. We know how critical it is for the workforce to reflect the diverse world we live in, and by furthering our support of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Howard University, we aim to help bolster the incredible manufacturing and engineering programming already taking place.
Howard University leaders visit the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco in 2019. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Anthony Wutoh, Provost & Chief Academic Officer; Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk President & CEO; Dr. Hazel Edwards, Professor, Architecture; Dr. Nadir Yilmaz, Chair, Mechanical Engineering; Fabíola Clayton, AEX Program Manager; and John M. M. Anderson, Dean, CEA.
Autodesk’s relationship with Howard University
Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost is a champion of the work taking place at Howard University.
“Autodesk is committed to helping the next generation prepare for the future of work,” said Andrew. “To keep pace with innovation and technological advances, the industry needs a workforce with the most in-demand skills. 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.”
John M. M. Anderson, Ph.D., M.S., Sc.B., dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture, shared his excitement. “Mechanical engineering is changing with greater demand in the workforce for those with the skills to design for productivity. HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] such as Howard answer that demand with the best-trained and best-prepared new engineers. We at Howard thank Autodesk for renewing its commitment to our students’ success.”
Throughout our relationship with the Mechanical Engineering department, the faculty has embraced opportunities to collaborate with Autodesk. The faculty chair, Nadir Yilmaz, has been a champion for Autodesk’s contributions and an incredible thought partner. Years ago, Nadir led the early adoption of Fusion 360 in the mechanical engineering curriculum, outpacing many other colleges and universities, and even wrote a paper encompassing his findings. He was also an early adopter of our generative design technology, further demonstrating his forward thinking and desire to bring the latest technology to his students.
“We are committed to educating and training the next generation of bright engineers at Howard University. The value Autodesk places on the high-quality training and education we provide speaks highly of our results and of the achievers who graduate from our program,” said Nadir Yilmaz, Ph.D., P.E., chair and professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Fabiola visiting Howard University’s campus, excited to lead a Fusion 360 workshop.
Over the years, Autodesk has also worked closely with other departments at Howard University. We’ve supported research projects with the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and partnered on learning opportunities through our HBCU Tech Program initiative.
As part of Autodesk’s HBCU Tech Program, Howard University students within the computer science and electrical engineering departments received paid externships at Autodesk. Participants collaborated with Autodesk staff on specially curated projects, tackling technical challenges like robotics security and manufacturing workflows, while gaining valuable real-world work experience.
The Tech Program is an outgrowth of Autodesk’s commitment to the HBCU Partnership Challenge, a Congressional initiative to promote greater engagement between companies and HBCUs. It also aligns with Autodesk’s support of the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act, which would provide funds to make needed infrastructure upgrades at HBCUs.
Looking to the future
Fabíola Clayton (third from left) with Autodesk Black Network attending recruitment event at Howard University in January 2020.
Partnering with the students and faculty at Howard University has been an incredible experience and a fantastic example of how industry and academia can work together. Seeing these bright, young minds in action gives me so much hope for the future.
Through Autodesk’s gift to Howard University, and our continued relationship, we hope to support more opportunities for the next generation of talented, Black engineers.
Learn more about Autodesk’s efforts to support education and the future of work.