(Written by Guest Blogger: Sean Malott, Director of Strategic Business and Education Partnerships, Florida Polytechnic University)
When Florida Polytechnic University opens for classes in August 2014, it will be Florida’s first polytechnic university and the only one dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. But Florida’s brand-new university – strategically located along Central Florida’s High Tech corridor– is destined to be more than an institution of higher learning. Blurring the line between academia and industry, Florida Polytechnic will be a research and jobs university, an agent for growth and beacon for the state economy.
With Florida and most other states facing a critical shortage of technology workers, Florida Polytechnic has partnered with more than 50 leading companies, including Harris Corporation, Microsoft, Tech Data and Lockheed Martin, to help shape curriculum, participate in joint applied research projects, and ensure that employers have ready-and-able talent well into the future.
The strategy is attracting attention and support. Indeed, the brand-new University is fast approaching its first-year goal of enrolling 500 high achievers whose GPAs and SAT scores are among the highest in the state, even as the campus is still under construction. From an inventor and software developer to a research chemist and former IBM products developer, faculty members all have industry experience, in addition to teaching backgrounds. Professors are not ensconced in ivory towers, away from the harsh realities of the global marketplace and real-world challenges. They know their way around boardrooms and classrooms. They will share that expertise and their connections with students.
Unlike other universities bound by tradition and slow to change, Florida Polytechnic is designed to be nimble and responsive to evolving industry demands. When the Legislature created Florida Polytechnic in 2012, it did so with an eye toward the future. Lawmakers not only sought to buffer the state’s economy from future recessions but respond to demand for workers with the specialized skills and knowledge to thrive in the state and global marketplace. A lot is at stake. Florida, in particular, faces an uncertain future if it continues to depend solely on the traditional pillars of economic growth – tourism, real estate and citrus. Tourism is cyclical, real estate is finite and citrus is vulnerable to the vagaries of nature.
Technology is on a different trajectory, poised for explosive growth. Florida Polytechnic intends to be part of that, a catalyst for change and transformation. At Florida Polytechnic, the institution’s strategy is to be nimble and responsive to demand in real time. Students will graduate with the specialized skills, knowledge and confidence to immediately start work without on-the-job training. From Big Data Analytics and Machine Intelligence to Health Informatics and Cloud Virtualization, Florida Polytechnic’s programs will inspire generations not just to imagine but also to innovate and not just to learn but also to lead in the dynamic high-tech marketplace.