#STEMTalks Unanswered Questions

Apr 08, 2015

What kinds of internships can Florida Polytechnic University students land? What is the background of Florida Poly’s founding President, Dr. Randy K. Avent? These are just some of the questions that participants posed at the University’s recent Google + Hangout, #STEMTalks.

On March 31, 2015, Florida Poly hosted its final Google+ Hangout in a three-part series on advanced technology and STEM education. The University welcomed a panel of STEM leaders who included:

• Dr. Randy Avent, Florida Poly President
• Dr. Susan LeFrancois, Assistant Professor of Science and Logistics at Florida Poly
• Charlie Frayer, General Counsel & Chief Privacy Offer at Protected Trust
• Colin Hoedtke, a student in Florida Poly’s inaugural class
• Rachel Gordon, Florida Poly Admissions counselor

Time constraints kept panelists from answering fully all of the submitted questions. Those questions and responses are below.

How difficult is it for students to find internships? What assistance can a student get at Florida Poly to help with finding internships?

Florida Polytechnic University students have two primary resources for help find internships: the Academic Success Center, which offers resources and workshops; and the Purple Briefcase, an online database and tool used by students and industry partners offering internships. The types of internship opportunities vary depending on the industry. Our industry partners are committed to offering internship opportunities. Florida Poly has more than 75 industry partners, including Lockheed Martin, JBT Corporation, Bisk Education and Siemens.

What was Dr. Randy’s K. Advent’s background prior to joining Florida Poly?

Before joining Florida Poly as its founding President, Dr. Avent served as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and a Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University. He was responsible for growing NC State’s overall research program and was the Principal Investigator at the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences.

He led an interdisciplinary effort to grow data science at NC State through a cluster hiring program, introduction of courses and development of a research institute. Prior to joining NC State, he was the Chief Scientist in the Defense Department’s Office of Basic Research, where he developed strategic plans for basic research investments and led a national data-to-decisions program on large-scale analytics for massive data sets. From 1986-2006, he held a variety of positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, where he served as the Associate Chief Technology Officer, led research groups and conducted studies in diverse technology areas.

Dr. Avent has conducted research in numerous areas, including environmental studies, neurophysiology and defense. The majority of his work has centered on machine learning, signal processing and dynamic probabilistic systems analysis. He has led several national panels in the areas of Computer Science, Cognitive Technology and Signal Processing; he is a Senior Member of the IEEE.

He holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Mathematics and Engineering from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has two master’s degrees, one in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University and the other in Biomedical Mathematics and Engineering from the University of North Carolina. His bachelor’s degree is in Zoology from the University of North Carolina. Dr. Avent is a 2005 graduate of the Greater Boston Executive Program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

How much student debt is too much?

This is a very broad question, and the answer depends on the student’s circumstances, the type of degree sought and many other factors. Before going into debt, students should research different scenarios to borrowing money to finance a university education. Here are key questions that students should ask themselves:

1. What is the amount I would need for just the bare essentials while in school?
Students on a budget need to be mindful of limitations. Eating out all the time can be more expensive than buying groceries for the entire month. Budgeting for what is needed, over what is wanted, will help to cut down student debt.

2. What type of salary can I realistically expect to receive for my first job?
Research what an entry-level position pays in your field of study. Not every student is lucky enough to find the dream job right away. In many cases, students will be paid much less than what they expected for the first few years. And generally, if your student debt is more than what you make in a year, your student debt may be “too much.”

3. How long will it take to pay off my student debt?
Lenders generally use 10 years as the maximum time limit to pay off student loans. Along with your student loans, you may have other forms of debt (car payments, mortgage, family expenses). These other forms of debt must be taken into account when considering student debt.

Some important student budgeting tools are the Net Price Calculator and the Student Loan Calculator. The Net Price Calculator figures yearly costs at a given college. It gives an estimated snapshot of what the student will need to cover costs while attending school. The Student Loan Calculator calculates different aspects of student debt (minimum payment, accrued interest, how many years, etc.)

If you have additional questions regarding #STEMTalks, watch the rebroadcast on Florida Poly’s YouTube Channel. Questions regarding Florida Poly admissions or degree programs can be accessed through Florida Poly’s Home page.

Lydia Guzman
Assistant Director of Communications