LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic University graduated its first ever class during a historic commencement ceremony on campus Tuesday. Eighteen students received degrees in Innovation and Technology, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.
Florida Poly was established to be an innovative institution and powerful resource for economic advancement, training the next generation to be leaders and entrepreneurs in high-tech industries. Dedicated exclusively to applied learning and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Florida Poly delivers a project-based curriculum focused on solving real-world challenges in collaboration with industry partners.
“Our goal is to produce highly capable and successful graduates; individuals who hit the ground running whether it’s at a company or research institution. Our graduates have the drive and ability to continuously learn and to apply their learning toward solving problems that will improve technology and advance society,” said Florida Poly Provost Dr. Terry Parker. “I applaud these students, our inaugural class of graduates, for their achievement in acquiring their respective degrees, and I look forward to following their ongoing success.”
Florida Poly opened in August 2014 with just over 550 students, including first-time freshmen, transfers and graduate students. In fall 2016, the student population topped 1,300 with an average high school GPA of 3.78 and average ACT and SAT scores of 26 and 1,672 respectively. Graduating its first class is not only a historic milestone for Florida’s newest university, but a required step in the process toward achieving regional accreditation.
“These graduates are among Florida Poly’s earliest pioneers,” said Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent. “It took ambition, vision and an entrepreneurial spirt to come to a brand-new university, and I have no doubt they will carry those same qualities into the workforce as leaders and business starters in high tech. I’m so excited to see all they will do in the years to come.”
Fifteen graduates attended the ceremony to receive their degrees, which took place in the second-floor Commons area of the Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building in Lakeland.
Florida Poly Graduate Gabriela Martines was the featured student graduation speaker. She has already been hired by Millennium Engineering and Integration Company to work on a NASA contract. Martines said being part of the inaugural graduating class is something she will always remember.
“I felt like I was making history when I first came to Florida Poly, and I feel like I’m doing so again as a member of the first graduating class,” said Martines, who majored in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Motion Intelligence. “The entire Florida Poly experience has taught me that with vision, collaboration and hard work, people can create great, new things and really make an impact. That’s one of the biggest takeaways I’m going to reflect on time and time again as I grow in my career.”
JD Alexander, Florida Poly’s founder and former Chairman of the Florida Senate Budget Committee, delivered the Inaugural Graduation commencement address.
“Only five short years ago, Florida Polytechnic University was just an idea. Today, we’re graduating our first class,” said Alexander. “It’s a remarkable achievement that all of us should take a great degree of pride in – the faculty, staff, supporters, partners, and most importantly, the students.”
Tuesday’s Inaugural Graduation ceremony is one of many significant milestones Florida Poly reached over the past academic year. Others include:
- Enrolling more than 1,300 students – a record – for the fall 2016 semester.
- Achieving “Candidacy for Accreditation” status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- Partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation to create SunTrax, a high-tech hub for the research, development and testing of emerging transportation technologies.
- Signing international agreements with universities and organizations in Morocco and Brazil to create study abroad and faculty exchange programs.
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