President John Welty says the money will be used to connect the university with local school districts so students can learn about careers in engineering and construction.
"It will reach out into our k-12 as well as community colleges and encourages students to get involved in activities that will help them pursue engineering careers in the future," President Welty said.
The financial gift is one of the largest commitments from a foundation in the college's history. The money will be awarded over three years.
The James Irvine Foundation has provided more than $1 billion in grants to over three-thousand California organizations since in was founded in 1937.