MERIT Program Offers Hands-On Learning

Jun 05, 2015
MERIT Program Offers Hands-On Learning

LAKELAND, Fla. (June 4, 2015) – The Medical Engineering and Robotics Innovation for Tomorrow (MERIT) summer program has returned to Florida Polytechnic University for a third year, offering 14 area high school participants an intensive hands-on learning experience in health informatics, nanotechnology, renewable energy, surgical robotics and other high-demand industries using advanced technology. Participants have the opportunity to program robots, use 3D printers, take field trips and conduct research on a topic of their choice.

The University has partnered with All Saints Academy, Lakeland Regional Health, The PUR Clinic, WellDyne and Winter Haven Hospital for the four-week evening program, which started June 1 at the Florida Poly campus. The sponsoring institutions are contributing their time, talent and skills to the immersive three-hour sessions, which take place twice weekly. Students receive specialized instruction and gain firsthand experience from University faculty and industry leaders in medicine, engineering, renewable energy and robotics.

“An interactive science experience like MERIT ensures that students are active and engaged learners. They are able to experience high-tech innovations with real-world applications,” said Dr. Susan LeFrancois, Assistant Professor of Science and Logistics at Florida Poly and lead organizer of the annual summer program. “MERIT will be offering these students, as it has every year, an incredible experience in STEM education.”

“We are pleased to be able to offer this unique program that educates and inspires students to learn and achieve in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program maximizes learning through hands-on, individualized instruction with outstanding faculty,” said Dr. Ghazi Darkazalli, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost at Florida Polytechnic University.

Each session of the MERIT program covers a different topic in advanced technology, engineering and medicine, including:

  • “Design and Rapid Prototyping with Tinkercad and Makerbot®” – Students gain hands-on experience using 3D printers and software;
  • “Innovation in Cancer Therapy” – Oncologists explain cancer therapy and offer students experience using scanners and therapy in a simulated experience;
  • “Robotics Lab/Surgery” – Physicians discuss high-tech surgery and allow students to operate the CT and MRI scanning equipment as well as the da Vinci® Robot used in surgery.

All participants get to keep the functional Boe-Bot (robot) that they are expected to assemble, program and demonstrate at the MERIT program. They also receive a certificate of completion from sponsoring institutions.