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Global Month of Impact Goes Virtual

Autodesk volunteers supported research on climate change ecosystem resilience by counting and classifying penguins from images in remote regions. This activity helps scientists understand the changing lives and environment of the penguins.

From the first day on the job, Autodesk employees are granted paid time to volunteer in support of the causes most important to them. Throughout the year we offer multiple opportunities for employees to participate in volunteer activities and make a positive impact: from curated group events to individual opportunities, pro bono consulting opportunities to donation matching from the Autodesk Foundation, and more.

With all the 2020 events that have made this year like no other, we had to find ways to adjust many of these opportunities. Our employees expressed a desire to volunteer while working remotely, so earlier this summer, we created virtual opportunities for Autodeskers to contribute to initiatives like decreasing the instances of COVID-19 around the globe, supporting racial equality, and empowering future workers of the world. But it couldn’t stop there.

Typically we hold Autodesk’s Global Month of Impact during the month of May, when employee Impact Champions around the world host group volunteering events for colleagues to gather at Autodesk offices worldwide to make a positive impact together. Past years’ projects have included assembling solar lights for children living in energy poverty, creating water purifiers for families without access to clean drinking water, and packaging meals to be deployed to individuals in need of nourishing food. Though this year’s campaign was postponed for a few months while Autodesk employees settled in to working from home, I’m thrilled to share that we were able to reimagine how to engage employees in this important worldwide call to action and complete yet another great Global Month of Impact at Autodesk!

During the month of September, more than 1,000 Autodesk employees gathered together to foster climate ecosystem resilience, aid in COVID-19 response, and give career advice to underrepresented youth. The virtual volunteer events were hosted by Impact Champions around the globe in 60-minute sessions that provided unique opportunities for our employees to support key Autodesk Foundation Impact Opportunity Areas: climate, health and resilience, and future of work.

The three curated activities our employees volunteered with in September included:

A group of employees from the Autodesk Toronto office enjoying the Penguin Watch activity.

Penguin Watch: Volunteers supported research on climate change ecosystem resilience by counting and classifying penguins from images in remote regions. This activity helps scientists understand the changing lives and environment of the penguins. Seabirds are declining worldwide under threat from climate change, pollution, disturbance and competition with fisheries. Changes in their populations reflect changes occurring in the wider ecosystem, making them excellent indicators of the health of the marine environment. Our employees classified more than 152,000 images of penguins in a changing environment over the course of the month. This initiative aligns with Autodesk’s work helping customers build a more sustainable, low carbon world.

Screenshot of Missing Maps activity where volunteers traced the outlines of buildings, roads, parks, and rivers over a satellite image to create digital maps that assist first responders in vulnerable communities.

Missing Maps: Volunteers helped with COVID-19 response and resilience efforts by mapping health structures and surrounding areas where humanitarian organizations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people. Each year, disasters kill nearly 100,000 and affect or displace 200 million people. Many of the places where these disasters occur are literally ‘missing’ from any map so first responders lack the information to make valuable decisions regarding relief efforts. Volunteers used an easy, browser-based editor to trace the outlines of buildings, roads, parks, and rivers over a satellite image to create digital maps that assist first responders in vulnerable communities. Our teams contributed to an estimated 20,000 structures and roads being put on the maps to aid first responders and COVID relief efforts. This project aligns with Autodesk’s work helping customers build infrastructure and communities that are resilient in the face of natural disasters and pandemics.

In Korea 40+ employees participated in mapping the vulnerable places in Guyana, to assist NGOs to use the maps and data to better respond to COVID-19 relief. The top 5 mappers in the team traced almost 80-100 buildings during the 1-hour session.

CareerVillage: Volunteers inspired young students to prosper in the Future of Work by answering questions about education, careers, and life. The mission of CareerVillage.org is to democratize access to career information and advice for underrepresented youth by crowdsourcing answers to questions from students about all kinds of careers. They’re building a massive, open-access reference source that every online learner can access anytime, anywhere. Our volunteer teams provided career advice to more than 1,300 students on the site. This initiative aligns with Autodesk’s Future of Work initiative that fosters collaborations across the workforce development space.

Interested in learning more about Autodesk’s Pro Bono programs? Read about an employee’s firsthand experience here.

Many employees went above and beyond to maximize their positive impact throughout the month. Some teams created their own volunteer opportunities supporting local causes and many employees volunteered individually in their communities for causes that are beloved by them, making this year’s event an even greater success.

It’s been an interesting year thus far – to say the least – but working with our employees to continue creating positive impact during a time of adversity has brought me hope and makes me proud to an Autodesker.

If you’re interested in learning more about employee impact at Autodesk, please visit our employee impact page.