Autodesk Inc., a leader in design and make software, has committed $5 million to California State University, Northridge to support the construction of the Autodesk Technology Engagement Center. The facility will accommodate academic programs in the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, equity-focused STEAM programming and Global Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Equity Innovation Hub programming at CSUN. This brings the company’s total support of the project to over $7 million.
The new center will be located near the heart of the CSUN campus next to Jacaranda Hall near the center of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 14, with the formal program beginning at 11:30 a.m. CSUN President Erika D. Beck and Autodesk President and CEO Andrew Anagnost will be joined by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, Congressman Tony Cardenas and Assemblywoman Luz Rivas at the event.
“Featuring equity as a core design principle, the Autodesk Technology Engagement Center will be powered by cutting-edge technology to expand regional P-12 outreach in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) educational pathways and advance innovative design and research, including labs for engineering, prototype creation, pre-manufacture, and iterative design,” Beck said. “Autodesk’s commitment to positive social change resonates deeply with CSUN’s mission. Their support is helping us create a more equitable and inclusive academic community that supports the success of our students.”
Anagnost, who graduated from CSUN in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, said he was looking forward to the celebration.
“The thoughtful educators at CSUN provided the support and mentorship I needed to end up where I am today,” Anagnost said. “Returning to campus to break ground on the new Autodesk Technology Engagement Center marks a pivotal moment for both me and Autodesk in supporting the next generation of innovators who will walk through these halls.”
Padilla said he was happy the groundbreaking was taking place.
“As the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate and one of the few Senators with an engineering degree, I know the importance of increasing diversity within the institutions that shape our society,” Padilla said. “I was proud to help secure a million dollars in federal funding to help build the Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation Hub at CSUN. By investing in highly educated, passionate, and diverse young leaders here at home, we can truly build our STEAM workforce of the future.”
Leveraging Autodesk XR technology, the groundbreaking ceremony of the Autodesk Technology Engagement Center will include an immersive extended reality (XR) tour of what the new facility will look like, exploring the intersection between CSUN’s Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation Hub programming and this state-of-the-art facility. XR is the umbrella term for a spectrum of immersive and interactive technologies. Attendees can virtually experience the nearly 32,000-square-foot facility by “walking” through the architect’s Autodesk Revit models.
The space, designed by architecture firm AC Martin, will include state-of-the art research, design and digital capture, and fabrication labs, in addition to a maker space for the campus and wider community. The center also will include space for peer-led student support services and enable students’ progression to graduation and transition to careers in STEAM and in the creative and tech economies.
“It is an honor to support the university’s inclusive efforts to provide opportunities in STEAM for underrepresented students and to collaborate with CSUN’s student stakeholder group to program and design the center,” said Susan O’Connell, managing principal with AC Martin.
Two years ago, Autodesk was one of the first to invest in what was originally called the Center for Integrated Design and Advanced Manufacturing at CSUN, dubbed the “Center of Possibilities” by university officials. With the company’s support, a feasibility study set the course for a facility. A $25 million state allocation from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, made possible with support from Padilla, Rivas and Cardenas, expanded on the public-private partnership to the realization of a hub that will bring the community and preschool through college partners together to facilitate new educational pathways to support the innovators and creators of the future, university officials said.
With significant support from Apple as part of the company’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, CSUN is the host campus for the new Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub program, launching initiatives in the region, statewide through the California State University system, and nationally. The initiative launched the CSU HSI Community Grants program to cultivate innovative practices in STEAM and accelerate educational equity at CSU Hispanic Serving Institutions. In the first year of the program, $2.1 million was awarded to 17 CSU HSI Community Grant programs.
One of the largest universities in the country, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is an urban, comprehensive university that delivers award-winning undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 36,000 students annually and counts more than 400,000 alumni who fuel the region’s economy. Since its founding in 1958, CSUN has made a significant and long-term economic impact on California, generating nearly $1.9 billion in economic impact and nearly 12,000 jobs each year. CSUN is a Hispanic Serving Institution ranking amongst the top twenty in the nation in graduating Latinx students. More than 70 percent of CSUN students are first-generation college students, and 60 percent come from historically underrepresented groups. Money magazine consistently ranks CSUN among the nation’s “most transformative” colleges for putting diverse students on the path to higher career earnings.