Meet the innovators who inspire us

Alli O'Connell Alli O'Connell February 2, 2023

3 min read

In 2022, the Autodesk Gallery launched Spectrum, an exhibit that showcases innovators transforming Autodesk industries to be more sustainable, equitable, and resilient. The interactive experience features portraits of innovators across the world, highlighting the humanity behind innovation. The Autodesk Foundation partnered with the Gallery to spotlight the work of leading innovators in the Autodesk Foundation portfolio, including Christian Benimana, Etosha Cave, Amy King, Megan O’Connor, Nithya Ramanathan, and Jason Wang for their ongoing commitment to impact.

Photo grid. Headshots of Christian Benimana, MASS Design Group; Etosha Cave, Twelve; Amy King, Pallet; Megan O’Connor, Nth Cycle; Nithya Ramanathan, Nexleaf Analytics; and Jason Wang, FreeWorld.

Christian Benimana, MASS Design Group

Christian Benimana is one of MASS Design Group’s managing directors and director of the African Design Centre, a field-based apprenticeship that empowers leaders to design a more equitable, just, and sustainable world. Using Autodesk technology, MASS Design Group’s team of 250+ architects, landscape architects, engineers, builders, furniture designers, writers, filmmakers, and researchers representing 20 countries work together to expand access to design that is purposeful, healing, and hopeful.

“I’m not motivated by avoiding disaster. I’m more motivated by the prospects of how wonderful life would be if we succeeded.”

Christian Benimana
Managing Director
MASS Design Group 

Etosha Cave, Twelve

Etosha Cave is the co-founder and chief scientific officer at Twelve. As part of her doctoral work at Stanford University, Etosha and her now business partners, in collaboration with Autodesk, created a technology they call O12 that transforms carbon dioxide into fuel, plastic, and everyday products traditionally made from fossil fuels. Twelve’s innovative approach is paving the way for a future of revolutionary carbon transformation.

Etosha Cave, Twelve

“Our carbon transformation technology is the keystone of a circular, non-extractive, fossil-free chemical and energy system of the future.”

Etosha Cave
Co-Founder and CSO

Amy King, Pallet 

Amy King is the chief executive officer and founder of Pallet, a leader in rapid-response shelter villages. Under Amy’s leadership, the Washington-based company is addressing the homeless crisis with speed and scale. Pallet shelters combine temporary housing solutions with 24/7 case management from a local service provider. Pallet recruits, trains, and supports individuals impacted by the criminal justice system, addiction, and homelessness into manufacturing and construction roles and invests in their ability to be productive and contributing members of the workforce.

Amy King, Pallet

“Our streets should not be a waiting room for permanent housing.”

Amy King
CEO and Founder

Megan O’Connor, Nth Cycle

Megan O’Connor is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Nth Cycle, a company that helps reuse materials found in everyday items such as cellphones, computer chips, and batteries. Megan is paving the way to a carbon-free economy by developing clean mineral supply chain solutions. Nth Cycle runs on the efficiency of their flagship product the OYSTER, an electrochemically-modified filter press that uses distinct operating voltages to target specific metals for extraction. Autodesk and the Autodesk Foundation support Nth Cycle with funding, technology and training, and industry networks.

Megan O'Connor, Nth Cycle

“When I think about what being an innovator means, it’s seeing a problem and trying to think about it creatively.”

Megan O’Connor
CEO and Co-Founder
Nth Cycle

Nithya Ramanathan, Nexleaf Analytics

Nithya Ramanathan is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Nexleaf Analytics, a nonprofit that designs and deploys technology and data solutions to help countries build resilient health systems. Using technology developed in collaboration with Autodesk, Nexleaf works with governments, health leaders, and nonprofits to provide affordable sensor technologies and data analytics to aid with the distribution of vaccines, medical equipment, and clean cooking sources.

Nithya Ramanathan, Nexleaf Analytics

“Collective intelligence is such a critical part of innovation. If any one of us could solve things, we would’ve done it.”

Nithya Ramanathan
CEO and Co-founder
Nexleaf Analytics

Jason Wang, FreeWorld

Jason Wang is the chief executive officer and founder of FreeWorld, a nonprofit supporting formerly incarcerated people to secure high-wage jobs and build their lives. The program provides the tools, education, and resources needed to get hired in the trucking industry. With the support of the Autodesk Foundation, FreeWorld is validating its model, building a strong foundation to support returning citizens, and ending mass recidivism.

Jason Wang, FreeWorld

“Truth of the matter is they’re human beings that want the same thing that every human wants—safety, security, food, shelter, community.”

Jason Wang
CEO and Founder

If you’re in San Francisco, head to the Spectrum exhibit in the Gallery for inspiration for an impactful 2023!