Many of the engineers who work at MathWorks regularly visited the Museum of Science when they were children. For some, those experiences helped put them on paths toward their careers.
Now, the Natick software developer is paying the Museum of Science back for that inspiration, with a $10 million donation.
“It’s hard to find an engineer or scientist who grew up in this area who wasn’t influenced by the museum by visiting there as a kid,” said Jack Little, chief executive of the 4,000-employee company. “I was always a science kid. Going there was like going to Disneyland.”
The museum’s president, Ioannis Miaoulis, said the donation represents the largest corporate gift the institution has received in its nearly 200-year history. The museum relies heavily on corporate benevolence, with Raytheon and Intel among its prominent donors. MathWorks has been a sponsor since 1991.
The MathWorks funding will play a key role in jump-starting a renovation of the museum’s three-level Blue Wing, officials said. Miaoulis plans to revamp the 100,000-square-foot wing over the next decade or so and hopes to replace most of the exhibits. About $20 million, including the MathWorks gift, already has been raised for the project.
A team of MathWorks employees has been helping museum officials plan the wing’s redesign.
The MathWorks gift will be used to fund a “Tech Studio” exhibit that will feature several interactive engineering challenges. It’s scheduled to open in 2020.
About $2.5 million will be set aside to create an endowment to ensure the exhibit is maintained and kept up-to-date.
“This is trying to get engineering into the museum on a broader scale,” Little said. “Modern philanthropy is not just naming rights. You want to make an impact and get involved.”