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October 2021

Transforming STEM Education

The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation celebrates its formal opening with a dedication ceremony

The John A. and Susan Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation (SCDI), opened its doors in September and provides 270,000 square feet of collaboration-focused, interdisciplinary space for the growing number of students seeking STEM excellence in Silicon Valley.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 15, 2021— Today, Santa Clara University dedicated its brand new STEM facility, the John A. and Susan Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation (SCDI), which opened its doors in September and provides 270,000 square feet of collaboration-focused, interdisciplinary space for the growing number of students seeking STEM excellence in Silicon Valley. 

Learn more about SCDI in this video.

One of the largest STEM facilities in the nation, SCDI provides the latest equipment, resources, and vast, flexible spaces for students and professors to conduct the cross-functional, innovative work needed to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. The opening of SCDI comes at the opportune moment, as Santa Clara University has seen its undergraduate STEM enrollment increase 85% in the past decade. 

“Innovation happens when talented people with diverse skills and perspectives come together to solve complex problems,” said John Sobrato, Santa Clara trustee who, with his wife Susan, provided the foundational $100 million to build SCDI. “The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation will have in one location, science and engineering disciplines that were spread across the University in disparate locations. It will be a creative meeting ground to help foster spontaneous interactions so undergraduate and graduate students and faculty can connect, collaborate and create.”

The campus features more than 1,400 classroom, lab, and research lab seats for students studying everything from neuroscience to chemistry to sustainability to computer science and engineering. Students from various majors will be invited to expand their learning by working collaboratively and with an entrepreneurial mindset in spaces such as the Innovation Zone, the Imaginarium (Virtual Reality), Behavior Neuroscience Lab, Robotics Systems Lab, and the Latimer Energy Lab. Adaptable project spaces with large entryways allow undergraduate students to participate in projects big and small—all while receiving direct faculty mentorship.

Complementary departments such as civil engineering and environmental science or biology and bioengineering are intentionally located near each other within SCDI to encourage organic research opportunities. Each section of the building has informal collaboration spaces with flexible furniture and equipment for a variety of projects.

The Sobrato Campus will provide space for dozens of STEM-focused student clubs, from the Global Medical Brigades, Engineering without Borders,  the Physics Club to Women in STEM. It will also be home to the Diversity & Inclusion Student Center, which will be used for events, speaker engagements, and enhanced experiences for underrepresented students, including the De Novo Fellows. 

Governor Gavin Newsom

Surprise attendee Governor Gavin Newsom '89 returned to his Alma Mater in honor of the SCDI dedication. The Governor spoke to his time at Santa Clara, the importance of innovation, and the generosity of the Sobrato family. "If we don't invest in the future, we will not do very well there."

Transforming STEM Education: By the Numbers

  • 270,000 square feet of space
  • 1446 classroom, teaching lab, and research lab seats
  • $300M facility stocked with the latest equipment and resources
  • 50% women computer science and engineering faculty
  • 100% undergraduates will take a course in SCDI
  • 50 student clubs housed in SCDI
  • 85% increase in STEM enrollment over the last decade at SCU

“Today is a monumental day for Santa Clara University,” said Acting President Lisa Kloppenberg. “This beautiful, spacious facility will be a heart and home for the innovative spirit that has long characterized a Santa Clara education, opening up possibilities for students from virtually every discipline across campus.”

About the Donors

John A. ’60 and Susan Sobrato, are the patriarch and matriarch of one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent families in real-estate development and philanthropy. In 2017, they made a gift of $100 million to Santa Clara University to help create the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, stating that they wanted to support the University’s new strategic vision and the transformational STEM initiative at its core.

John A. Sobrato is a 1960 alumnus of SCU; a longtime member of Santa Clara University’s Board of Trustees; and founder of The Sobrato Organization (TSO) of Cupertino, California, one of the largest commercial development firms in Silicon Valley. In 1996, the couple and their three children launched the Sobrato Family Foundations. 

Susan is an active partner supporting the family’s business and philanthropic pursuits. She and John have been prominent philanthropists in Silicon Valley for decades, and particularly generous to SCU. They donated $20 million to build the University’s Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library, completed in 2008. Gifts from the Sobrato family have also supported other major capital projects on campus and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.

The Sobrato Family Foundation has a robust community impact platform focused on 21st-century education and career pathways, providing millions each year in community-mainstay general operating support, and including three Sobrato Centers for Nonprofits that provide 333,000 square feet of rent-free office space to 72 organizations and high-quality conference space to all Bay Area nonprofits.

About Santa Clara University

Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education.  For more information see 

Media Contact

Deepa Arora | Senior Director, Communications and Media Relations |