Students Travel to Tallahassee to Help Shape Future of High-Tech Learning

Annual Florida Poly Day at the Capitol gives students a platform to share ideas for research and entrepreneurship

LAKELAND, Fla. (January 19, 2015) – Nearly three dozen Florida Polytechnic University students and officials descended on the Capitol Tuesday to share their vision for the future of research and innovation at the state’s only university dedicated exclusively to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Students met with lawmakers to discuss the need for an on-campus applied research facility that will allow faculty, students and private sector researchers to focus on solving important, real-world challenges. With an emphasis on industry-responsive innovation, the facility would provide additional laboratory space, as well as an entrepreneurship center to assist with the commercialization of the products and systems created from the university’s research. Researchers would get the support they need to start companies, patent their inventions and create high-paying, high-tech jobs.

“In true entrepreneurial fashion, Florida Poly students are sharing their collective experience and strong vision to grow the University and its innovative capabilities,” said State Representative Neil Combee. “These bright men and women are the future of our state. Fostering this homegrown talent is essential to ensure Florida remains competitive in the fast-paced global marketplace.”

Florida Poly emphasizes real-world problem-solving, work experience, applied research and business leadership opportunities through industry partnerships to ensure students graduate ready to succeed in the workplace. The University collaborates with more than 90 industry-leading firms to produce a market-inspired curriculum designed to meet both near-term and long-term workforce needs. Students are engaged in research and entrepreneurial activities as early as their freshman year. Last year, freshmen pursued projects in energy sustainability, cyber security and robotics, and some students have already received provisional patents for their work.

“My experience at Florida Poly has been a very unique one, unlike any other that I have had before,” said Ariel Brown, a Computer Engineering major with a concentration in Machine Intelligence who is among the students representing Florida Poly in Tallahassee. “The hands-on teaching style has allowed me to create projects, learn information relevant to our rapidly evolving fields in STEM, and to get valuable leadership and group experience. I will graduate as a well-rounded student with a working knowledge of technology and skills that many other students would have to learn and be trained in after they are hired.”

Florida Poly staff members and leaders, including President Dr. Randy K. Avent, also traveled to the State Capitol for the event.

“We’re grateful to our state leaders for welcoming us to Tallahassee and for their desire to learn more about how Florida Poly is catalyzing economic development in Florida,” said University President Dr. Randy K. Avent. “The institution’s focus on applied research of relevant issues has already proven fruitful for our students and industry partners. Investment to further develop this research and our entrepreneurial offerings will continue to propel the region and the state forward.”

In addition to meeting with legislators, several Florida Poly students will be exhibiting their award-winning Biology class projects in Florida’s Capitol. A Lily pad structure that collects photovoltaic and thermal energy from the sun and an energy harvesting hiking boot are among the projects that will be on display.

“As engineers and scientists, it is in our blood to ask the question why, to push the limits of technology, and to work towards making science fiction a reality,” said Ethan Puerto, a sophomore majoring in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Digital and Hybrid Systems. “By bringing Florida Poly to the Capitol, we are showing our lawmakers who we really are.”

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