Project 1881

La Fondation Dassault Systemes supports 1881, a non-profit workforce development initiative preparing underrepresented populations for careers in engineering.

Reacting to a worrisome concern

According to a well-documented assessment, there is a persistent and growing racial wealth gap between African American families and white families in the United States. Studies indicate the median white family holds more than ten times the wealth of the median Black American family. Moreover, African American men will suffer greatly as automation takes away jobs once held by humans.

In 2018, advanced manufacturing added 4,400 jobs in Louisiana from December 2018 to November 2019, but Louisiana’s unemployment rate increased from 4.3% to 4.8% in the same time period. The most impacted by unemployment are Black New Orleanians who experienced unemployment rates five times that of their white counterparts and were six times more likely to live in poverty.

In that context, the 1881 project decided to provide necessary support for New Orleans residents to capitalize on the increased demand of skilled workers in engineering, design, and advanced manufacturing.

How does 1881 affect change?

1881 puts programming for all ages at disposal, focusing on teaching the skills necessary for a career in engineering and manufacturing. 1881’s students are trained to use 3D design software solutions. They’ve achieved over 5,000 computer-aided design (CAD) hours, spent over 1000 hours fabricating and have created over 150 robots.

Several kinds of support

The 1881 project supports students in different ways: workforce training, academic tutoring, scholarships and tuition, but also logistic help, and further on, career counselling, internships and an Engineering Design Fellowship.

Workforce training

1881 teaches classes and partners with colleges who provide credits toward a certification or a professional degree.

Academic tutoring

As students’ progress through their coursework, 1881's staff facilitates inclusive peer-to-peer teaching and learning methods between more senior and novice participants. This enables students to cultivate comprehensive knowledge of their course content through peer learning groups that help them to obtain a certification and maintain their GPA above 3.0.

Scholarships, tuition assistance and book vouchers

Tuition assistance and scholarships are available for all participants. To be eligible, a student must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a college course, maintain a 3.0 GPA or above, and be working towards certification in an engineering related credential. Students can also be granted book vouchers.


1881 shall provide ridesharing credits or contract with a bus service to transport the majority of its students who are public-transit-reliant and cannot access trainings often held in transit deserts.

Career Counseling

1881's staff assists its participants in finding engineering employment, setting career goals, mapping career pathways to lucrative engineering disciplines, resume writing, soft-skills training, and mock interviews. Counseling also includes directing students to resources that help resolve personal, social, and psychological issues.


1881's staff cultivates relationships with employers by creating strategic industry partnerships. The organization has relationships with several tenants at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility (NASA MAF) for internship placement. However, 1881 will continue to expand its relationships with industry to highlight the work of its participants

Engineering Design Fellowship

College students are paid a weekly stipend for 10 weeks to iterate a design concept, create a computer-aided design, build a prototype and present their prototype to industry experts at the NASA MAF. The project was such a success that 100% of industry guests who participated said they would recommend each of the fellows for employment as an engineer or technician. In addition, a company at the NASA MAF has committed to hiring an intern from 1881 every semester.

I envision a future where many will work for engineering companies in New Orleans. A future where they will lead the innovation in progress and technology. A future where those who are born and live in the Michoud area will work for the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility.

Rebekah Smith > La Fondation Dassault Systèmes
Rebekah Smith
1881 Operations Manager

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Adopted by all United Nations Member States, the 2030 Agenda provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. La Fondation Dassault Systèmes supports the 1881 project and meets three of these goals: Quality education, Decent work and economic growth, and Reduced inequalities.

Our partner

The 1881 Institute Logo > La Fondation Dassault Systèmes

The 1881 Independent School was formed to address the deficiencies in education within the African American community in New Orleans. It is a subsidiary of The 1881 Institute. The 1881 Institute (1881) - named after the year the Tuskegee Institute was founded - is a non-profit, workforce development initiative that prepares underrepresented populations to successfully enter fields in engineering and technology by equipping them with college sophomore level mastery in engineering, math and applied sciences before graduating high school.