Autodesk Technology Engagement Center
California State University, Northridge
The Autodesk Technology Engagement Center will focus on closing equity gaps in STEAM degree pathways and inspiring historically underrepresented minorities to pursue high-demand careers in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The center will house academic programs for the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation Hub.
The 34,000 square foot center will be powered by cutting-edge technology to advance collaboration and interdisciplinary design and research, including labs for engineering, prototype creation, pre-manufacture, and iterative design. Flexible space for interdisciplinary teams to collaborate, innovate, and incubate is included. The project also includes a campus makerspace as well as student showcase space to inspire student curiosity and creativity. To propel student success, the project includes a Next Generation Student Success Center, student study and collaboration space, and a P-14 outreach Discovery Lab to engage middle, high school, and community college students, as well as families to include a whole family outreach approach. The Autodesk Technology Engagement Center is uniquely designed with equity as a core design principle. AC Martin led a series of design workshops, meeting with university leadership, an interdisciplinary faculty and staff collaborative group, and a student focus group, to ensure the project design would achieve its goals to:
- Be welcoming and approachable to students and the community.
- Highlight & inspire interest in STEAM professions, education, real-world applications & technology.
- Ensure diverse representation of historically underrepresented minorities.
- Create flexible spaces & adaptable design.
Launching a new initiative and program on campus, the University identified a need for a central, shared campus resource—a center—that would draw and serve students from all the STEM fields and the local K-12 community. With the new initiative in the beginning stages of development, CSUN hired AC Martin to conduct a highly inclusive and collaborative programming process to identify potential uses and functions the Center would serve. Through a series of four workshops, we held focus groups and interviews with Deans and their representatives from every college on campus; with leadership and their staff for student success and service programs (advising, admissions, outreach, undergraduate education, transfer students, etc.); and—equally importantly— a diverse student focus group spanning a variety of majors, academic years, and backgrounds. From this, AC Martin assimilated the information to identify anticipated activities, frequency of activities, and importance /priority of activities. The resulting shared space program and design creates multifunctional, flexible places that support a wide variety of users and activities. The Next Generation Student Success Center is designed for multiple programs uses, including: tutoring; peer mentoring; peer and professional advising including career advising, and workforce transition support. The Discovery Lab design supports both outreach and education programs for students from elementary school to community college and CSUN students’ collaboration, exploration, and fabrication (as an extension of the adjacent campus maker space). By fully understanding the spectrum of possible activities for each area in the building, we were able to program and design the spaces to account for that functionality from the beginning. This gives CSUN maximum opportunity to share the space as a campus-wide resource.