Autodesk Donates Software to U.S. Nonprofits

Tech giant extends helping hand to those who really need it

As you know, Autodesk makes a wide range of software in use by everyone from school children to NASA engineers, from digital media and entertainment design to architecture and engineering, from Avatar to the Freedom Tower. Their product, however, is not cheap, especially for new users and start-ups. A single program can represent a big investment. Like many other software developers, Autodesk has long encouraged the use if its programs by providing students and educational institutions with limited licenses, but these provisions rarely extend to users beyond the dot-edu.

This fall non-profits in the U.S. should know that a generous program from the Autodesk Foundation is underway. The program, called Technology Impact, was announced at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and aims to provide 500 nonprofits with premium design software packages at no cost. “We chose the CGI venue,” said Lynelle Cameron, president of the Autodesk Foundation and senior director of sustainability for Autodesk, “because their members are designers in the broadest sense of the word—leaders of the public, private and nonprofit sectors who are actively shaping our collective future and turning ideas into action.” Early recipients, such as Design Revolution, MASS Design Group, and KickStart International, certainly fit that description.

Cholera Treatment Center, Haiti

Courtesy MASS Design Group

Michael Murphy, founder of MASS, described to us the needs of non-profits as two-fold: “As a not-for-profit organization providing leading design and construction services in underserved areas across the globe, MASS relies on a combination of grassroots energy and state-of-the-art technology to effectively execute our projects and processes.” The tools for design can be as important as the work in the field. “By providing free licenses to non-profits,” he adds, “the Autodesk Foundation is allowing organizations to operate to their fullest potential, and has helped enable MASS to bring architecture to communities otherwise excluded from good design.” For an account of Murphy’s early work, read “Social Design: Straight Out of School

MASS Design Group, Boston Office

Courtesy MASS Design Group

 Word continues to spread. Within the first week of the launch on September 24th, over 200 applications and inquiries were received. “When I shared our commitment to provide design software to any nonprofit organization who shares our vision of a better world,” Cameron said, “I could see the light bulbs go off. Collectively, we have the power to design a different future and we are on that path.” And, what better way to promote innovative 3-D design software than to provide it free of charge to young designers in need? What better way to help non-profits fulfill their missions?

MASS Design Group, Rwanda Office

Courtesy MASS Design Group

Initially, the Autodesk Foundation is providing $7.5 million in design software to nonprofits in North America, with plans to expand globally. Qualifying 501(c)(3)s can now apply for licenses to two of the following design suites: Autodesk Building Design Suite PremiumAutodesk Infrastructure Design Suite PremiumAutodesk Entertainment Creation Suite UltimateAutodesk Product Design Suite Premium.

For more information or to apply, click here.

Finn Ferris is an editorial associate and blogger for Metropolis magazine. He is a researcher, teaching assistant, and graduate student in the inaugural Design Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

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