BOWLING GREEN, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic President Dr. Randy K. Avent addressed Polk County political and industry leaders at the Central Florida Development Council’s annual dinner Oct. 3rd, in a keynote speech highlighting the University’s dual mission to be both an academic leader and economic catalyst.
Speaking to more than 250 leaders and dignitaries at the Streamsong Resort, Dr. Avent emphasized the need for academia, industry and government to work cooperatively and collaborate. “The impact comes from education, research and development partnering in core STEM areas – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Dr. Avent explained. “As a brand-new University, it is critical that we meet the issues of today while anticipating the challenges of tomorrow.”
Dr. Avent outlined the strides that Florida’s newest and only polytechnic university has made since opening for classes on Aug. 25.
- The inaugural class of 554 students already is undertaking research projects that “teach them the critical skills they will need on the job. We are teaching them to think and to do.”
- Florida Poly has received more than 13,000 inquiries from prospective students considering applying for the 2015-16 academic year, an indication that it is offering programs and services responsive to marketplace needs.
- The University has formed industry partnerships with more than 75 companies of which 90% are Florida-based. Opportunities include internships, sponsored research and joint teaching.
“Our goal is to immerse students in the core STEM subjects and a can-do culture of entrepreneurialism that mirrors the dynamic high-tech marketplace,” Dr. Avent explained. “Florida Polytechnic University’s is committed to producing the STEM talent required by companies and the innovation that will propel Florida’s economy forward well into the future.”
David Petr, president and CEO of the Central Florida Development Council, said his agency looks forward to working with the University. “The CFDC is excited about the economic opportunities that Florida Polytechnic and its innovative mission offer in Central Florida and the entire state. By preparing students for high-demand careers and partnering with industries, Florida Polytechnic will help to ensure a prosperous future for all our citizens.”
The CFDC also honored two Florida Poly industry partners with the George Harris Jr. Economic Development Success Award for contributions to the Polk County economy. The Madrid Engineering Group of Bartow won the small-business category, and Lakeland-based Saddle Creek Logistics Services won the large-business category. Cliff Otto, president of Saddle Creek Logistics Services, also sits on the board of directors of the Florida Polytechnic University Foundation.
Several Polk County elected officials attended the annual CFDC dinner. They included Congressman Dennis Ross; Florida Sen. Kelli Stargel; Florida Reps. Neil Combee, Mike La Rosa and John Wood; County Commissioners George Lindsey, Melony Bell, Ed Smith and Todd Dantzler; Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs, and Auburndale Mayor Keith Cowie.