Carnegie Mellon University
May 20, 2021

A Transformational Grant for Science and Technology Programs at CMU

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

I am delighted to announce that the Richard King Mellon Foundation, one of Carnegie Mellon University’s most longstanding benefactors, has committed a new grant of $150 million to accelerate critical science and technology programs at CMU and expand our presence at Hazelwood Green. It is the largest single grant in the history of the Foundation.

Throughout our relationship, the Foundation has made pivotal investments that seeded significant initiatives at CMU. Its latest commitment will accelerate our leadership in science, robotics, and advanced and additive manufacturing, fueling collaborative, multidisciplinary ecosystems for research and innovation and enhancing our educational mission. The impact of this investment will be felt across Carnegie Mellon as well as in the Pittsburgh region, with the potential to revolutionize industries and catalyze economic development in Western Pennsylvania and beyond.

The next chapter of our relationship with the Richard King Mellon Foundation includes:

  • $75 Million to Support Science at CMU: This $75 million lead gift will enable CMU to build a $210 million science building on our Pittsburgh campus, which will be the centerpiece of our decade-long, future-of-science initiative aimed at accelerating the university’s leadership in interdisciplinary and data-driven scientific discovery. The planned facility will be constructed on the southeast corner of Forbes Avenue and Craig Street, next door to the Carnegie Museums. The building’s classrooms, learning spaces and research labs will also leverage the university’s simultaneous investment to establish the nation’s first academic cloud laboratory, which will feature highly automated, remote-controlled robotic instruments for experimentation and data collection. The new science building will also complement additional investments in endowed professorships, undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and research seed funds.
  • $75 Million to Invest in Robotics and Advanced and Additive Manufacturing: Two complementary grants are focused on advancing strategic research areas in robotics and advanced and additive manufacturing and will also expand our presence at Hazelwood Green, the site of a former steel mill located in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The Foundation is making a $30 million grant to expand CMU’s work in advanced and additive manufacturing by establishing the Manufacturing Futures Institute (MFI) at Mill 19 on the Hazelwood Green site. This will further enhance the site’s synergistic ecosystem for translational research, while expanding training and education opportunities for neighboring communities, including Hazelwood. As an institute, MFI will be a permanent organization with the long-term vision and funding that will enable it to address the complex challenges facing U.S. and global manufacturing, as well as to enhance economic development in the Pittsburgh region. The Foundation is also making a lead $45 million grant to enable CMU to expand our robotics research with a new $100 million Robotics Innovation Center at Hazelwood Green, adding up to 150,000 square feet to our research and education footprint. Envisioned in this new facility are reconfigurable high bays, multiple testing facilities including a unique large-footprint testing area, flexible spaces that address robotics systems at different scales and pre-incubator space for the next generation of CMU-affiliated robotics companies. These capabilities will allow our robotics researchers to bridge the stages of foundational research, integration, iteration and commercialization to help translate discoveries into real-world technologies.

There are many more details to share about the Foundation’s partnership with CMU and these exciting new initiatives. I invite you to read more about what these grants will enable. The Richard King Mellon Foundation grant is the latest gift to be announced as part of Make Possible: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University, which has a goal of raising $2 billion in private philanthropic support. To date, an incredible 52,000 supporters have contributed $1.67 billion in support of the university’s mission and its key strategic priorities.

On behalf of the entire CMU community, I wish to thank the Board of Trustees and staff of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, especially its director, Sam Reiman, whose partnership and visionary leadership have been instrumental in bringing to fruition this next phase of our partnership. This relationship is one of the most important for Carnegie Mellon, and we are grateful for the Foundation’s continued support and leadership.

I wish to thank CMU’s Board of Trustees for its support throughout this process, especially Chair Jim Rohr for his partnership in engaging the Foundation. I want to commend colleagues in University Advancement and across the administration for their efforts in securing this grant. Lastly, I wish to acknowledge the university’s academic leadership led by Provost Jim Garrett as well as the thought leadership of our colleagues in the Mellon College of Science, the College of Engineering and the School of Computer Science in envisioning these programs, in particular Deans Rebecca Doerge, Bill Sanders and Martial Hebert.

The important work on these university-wide initiatives will begin immediately, and we look forward to engaging a broader group of collaborators as we launch them. I am excited for the CMU community to realize the many opportunities they will foster and look forward to sharing with you their many successes in the years to come.


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair