At a groundbreaking ceremony featuring a variety of elected officials last week, California State University, Northridge commenced work on a $50-million project which will become the new home of a program which aims to steer Latinos and other underserved communities into STEM careers.

The Autodesk Technology Engagement Center, which replaces a surface parking lot near the intersection of East University Drive and Lindley Avenue, will consist of a two-story, approximately 32,000-square-foot building blanked by outdoor gathering spaces, seating, and landscaping.

The new facility, which will house CSUN's Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation Hub, is expected to include research labs, a maker space, and a student showcase area catering to university students, but also middle school and high school students from the surrounding neighborhood.

“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,” said CSUN president Erika D. Beck in a news release. “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.”

Site plan for Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation HubAC Martin

As one can likely deduce, the project is named after software company Autodesk, Inc., which has contributed $7 million to support the project. Other funding sources include the State of California and tech giant Apple, which has recently ramped up its presence in the Los Angeles area.

Autodesk's involvement will also mean the inclusion of the company's XR technology, which will be used to provide an immersive "extended reality" tour of what the AC Martin-designed facility will look when completed.

Construction of the Autodesk Technology Engagement Center is expected to occur over an approximately 20-month period, according to an environmental study published last year.

The innovation hub aims to address a longstanding lack of representation of the Latino community within the tech industry. According to dot LA, just 8 percent of Apple's workforce identifies as Latino, despite Latinos accounting for nearly 40 percent of California's population.

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