Behrend receives largest gift in history, $21.7 million, from software company - The Behrend Beacon

Behrend receives largest gift in history, $21.7 million, from software company

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Author: Shannon Ehrin, Lexie Pelchin (editor-in-chief, staff writer)

    Penn State Behrend was presented with the largest gift in the college’s history Tuesday morning. The gift, valued at $21.7 million, comes from California-based Autodesk, a top world developer of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.

    Every Behrend student will have access to the software suites, which include the Education Master Suite, Simulation Moldflow and the Entertainment Creation Suite.

    Faculty in the School of Engineering as well as professors in chemistry, psychology, game design and management information systems already have access and have been using the software. Now, faculty and professors in all four schools will be able to use the programs in their classes.

    “Autodesk has never made a gift to a university like this in the past.  It will impact business, it’ll impact science, humanities and social sciences as well as our engineering students,” said Ralph Ford, the director of the school of engineering. “It’s a big piece of where we’re going here at Behrend, building the digital arts and technology initiative.”

    The suites consist of advanced 3D CAD and engineering analysis capabilities as well as a program that was used in the last 17 animated films that won Academy Awards in the Best Visual Effects category.

    Senior Stephen Chalker is one student who has experience working with the software and can attest to its strong performance and efficiency.

“I’m in the game development and game design classes as well as the new Game Developer’s club, and basically, our task is to make a game, so we’re familiar with using the Autodesk software 3ds Max,” Chalker said. “What we were using before was software that wasn’t great, but moving to 3ds Max opens up a lot in terms of what we can do.”

     Behrend has a five-year contract with Autodesk, and with that contract, students can also become certified in Simulation Moldflow, a design tool for plastic injection molding, which is vital for engineers. Although some of the software is engineering specific, the ultimate goal is to better prepare students for success after college, no matter the major or intended profession.

    “This gift would have never happened if we didn’t have a lot of alumni working at Autodesk who were doing very well and said ‘Hey, there’s something interesting going on there,’ and they made the connection to us,” Ford said. “This is unique to Penn State Behrend. It’s a great partnership.”