Atlanta University Center students, alumni, faculty, staff and special guests met in the Robert W. Woodruff Library’s Exhibition Hall Wednesday afternoon to introduce the AUC Consortium’s newest institute, and announce a $1.5 million donation received from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, an organization that is working to improve education in the field of engineering based in Washington, D.C.

The AUC Consortium will use the money from the foundation to fund the expansion of the group’s Dual Degree Engineering Program.

The program, also known as DDEP, allows students to pursue a liberal arts degree from one of three of AUC’s member institutions – Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, or Morehouse College – before pursuing a second degree in engineering from one of the AUC Consortium’s partner colleges and universities after graduation.

The Atlanta University Center Consortium founded DDEP in 1969, in response to staggeringly low demographics of Black and brown engineers in the American workforce. Since the year of the program’s founding, this percentage has increased only slightly, from 1 to 5%, said event speaker Ambrose Haskin, a senior DDEP student attending Morehouse College.

The A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation presented the Atlanta University Center IDEAA with a check for $1.5 million, November 9, 2022. Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

However, the AUC Consortium aims to diversify the engineering workforce further, using the Clark Foundation donation to expand DDEP and build IDEA, the consortium’s developing institute that will work to make engineering paths more accessible for Black college students.

IDEA, or the Institute for Dual Degree Engineering Advancement, will operate as the “hub” of the dual degree program, bringing together other existing dual degree engineering programs across the country to collaborate and ultimately provide the best educational experience to students involved in DDEP. 

Jonathan Gaines, the consortium’s assistant director for engineering education innovation, said IDEA will continue the work that the AUC Consortium staff has started, in terms of student enrichment and preparation for life after college.

“It is my pleasure to announce IDEA,” Gaines said. “And I look forward to working diligently with faculty, alumni, partners and friends to focus IDEA on student success both locally and nationally.” 

Natalie Grandison, director of engineering initiatives at the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, flew in from Washington to present the donation and speak to the two organizations’ cooperation.

“The Clark Foundation collaborates with its partners to build something together,” Grandison said. “And I am so proud to work with the Atlanta University Center Consortium to leverage our resources and that of this community, and its member institutions, to maximize opportunities for citizens to live, work and play.”

The AUC Consortium initially partnered with only the Georgia Institute of Technology at the time of DDEP’s founding. The consortium now partners with nine schools across the country, including Georgia Tech, to further educate AUC graduates following their departure from campus.

The donation will also help generate scholarships for AUC students participating in the dual degree program.