A Catalyst in Economic Development for Polk County, the Region, and the State
A Polk County thriving with commerce, industry, and technology will provide the perfect extension of the on-campus learning environment for students at Florida Polytechnic University, the newest member of Florida’s State University System.
That’s just one of the reasons the Florida Polytechnic leadership decided early on to partner with the Central Florida Development Council (CFDC) and its mission to promote and grow a Polk Technology Region economy “based on high-skill, high-wage, sustainable and evolutionary businesses.”
“We see our role as being a catalyst in economic development and a reason for business and industry to locate here — a catalyst not just for Polk County, but for the region and state,” says Maggie Mariucci, Florida Polytechnic’s director of External Affairs.
Opened to its first students in August 2014, Florida Poly is located in northeast Lakeland at the intersection of Interstate 4 and the Polk Parkway — right along the I-4 high-tech corridor. With the focus of the university’s academic programs on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the location of the campus is strategic.
Mariucci says that through its relationship with the CFDC, Florida Polytechnic can help to grow the region’s industrial base while developing ties with industries already here and the new companies that move in. This will greatly benefit not only the local economy and workforce, but also the students enrolled at the university, she says.
“We want our students to be engaged with industry and learning, not just in a bubble here at the university,” Mariucci observes. “We want them to be involved in joint research and development and getting internships.”
Working with the CFDC, she says, Florida Poly administrators and instructors can reach out to and gain access to various industries, forge further partnerships, and establish joint teaching arrangements.
“We want to see our students out doing research and our industry partners teaching here,” Mariucci says.
Florida Polytechnic University was created on April 10, 2012, when legislation was signed to establish the 12th institution in the State University System of Florida. On Aug. 16, 2014, the university held a public celebration to commemorate its grand opening and the completion of its futuristic Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building, the iconic, white-domed centerpiece of the still-growing Florida Poly campus.
The university has two colleges, the College of Engineering and the College of Innovation and Technology, offering six undergraduate programs (with 19 unique areas of concentration) and two master’s degree programs.
In the College of Engineering, Florida Polytechnic offers Bachelor of Science degrees in computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical and industrial engineering, and a Master of Science degree in engineering. In the College of Innovation and Technology, the university offers Bachelor of Science degrees in advanced technology, computer science and information technology, and science and technology management, and a Master of Science degree in innovation and technology.
With Dr. Randy K. Avent serving as president, the university welcomed its inaugural class of students for the start of studies on Aug. 24, 2014.
During the university’s grand-opening celebration, Dr. Avent said, “What’s truly remarkable about Florida Polytechnic is that every single component of it, including the cutting-edge IST Building, has been designed around our mission — to prepare students to become innovative problem solvers and high-tech professionals.”