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Florida Poly Ready to Offer Two New Engineering Degrees

April 14, 2023 News

As it continues to grow, Florida Polytechnic University is offering more degrees and certificates to help keep up with demand for students graduating with STEM degrees. 

Florida’s only state university dedicated solely to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Florida Poly will introduce two new bachelor’s degrees – civil and industrial engineering — in the fall of 2023, pending approval from the Florida Board of Governors.  

Those degrees come on the heels of a coding certificate the university added in Fall 2022.  

“We are pleased to continue our strategic growth of academic offerings. We are aligning our degrees with the needs of students and of industry,” said Terry Parker, Florida Poly’s provost. “As our campus and enrollment continue to grow, so too will our curriculum.” 

Civil engineers work on infrastructure projects outside of buildings, everything from roads and bridges to water and sewer systems. From 2021-2031, more than 22,000 jobs are expected to be created in this field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

“The addition of civil engineering is especially important to the campus mission which is tied to producing high-quality engineers for the state. With the addition of civil engineering, Florida Poly now hosts degrees in the ‘big three’ of the engineering world. These include civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering,” Parker said. “Clearly, this further positions the campus to be a major source of engineering talent for Florida in the future.” 

Industrial engineers design and analyze systems that involve people, helping to improve quality while reducing waste. More than 30,000 new jobs in this field are expected between 2021 and 2031, according to the BLS. 

The median salary for the different types of engineers ranged from $88,000 to $105,000 in 2021. This is according to Southern New Hampshire University. Job growth ranged from 7% to 9%, it shows. 

Need for Engineers

Polk County’s growth poses challenges for a county once known only for its agricultural and mining history, said Jeff Kincart, a structural/environmental engineer and a general contractor who serves as vice president of A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure

“Trees are being replaced with houses, shopping centers and schools,” Kincart said. “Water becomes a challenge, along with roads and other infrastructure that is required to support communities.  This is where the need for experienced engineers is critical for the success of Polk County and Central Florida.  Florida Poly has created a name for itself in producing some of the most talented engineers. They work on real life problems as part of their degree programs.” 

The addition of the two new engineering degree programs means Florida Poly “should be able to produce highly competent engineers. They will bring new ideas to the challenges that Polk County faces as we grow in the 21st century.” 

Gaining Recognition

Dr. Mary Vollaro, department chair for the mechanical, environmental, electrical, and computer engineering programs, will oversee the two new degrees. 

“We’ve had the opportunity to create a very unique engineering experience to bring students through with foundational knowledge in engineering. It allows them to follow their talents and interests as they pursue their discipline-specific topics,” Vollaro said. “With these degrees, we’re adding more disciplines and options for our students to pursue and launch them into the workforce.” 

Florida Poly has received recognition for its engineering programs:  

  • In its 2022-2023 Best Colleges list, U.S. News and World Report ranked it among the nation’s top 30 public engineering programs without a Ph.D. 
  • In December 2020, Deep South Magazine named Florida Poly one of the five best universities in the Southern states for tech students. 
  • In March 2020, Affordable Schools ranked the university No. 2 in the nation for delivering a quality, affordable mechanical engineering education. 

Coding Certificate Program

In Fall 2022, the university started offering an 18-credit program, the Coding for Data Analytics Certificate, to incoming freshmen. This program gives students a chance to “earn a desirable industry-relevant credential while also earning college credit that can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree,” according to a university press release. 

It prepares them for internships and careers in the high-skill, high-wage tech industry. 

Florida Poly was the first university in the country to provide a coding credential to select freshmen, who are admitted after their application to the university is reviewed. 

The coding program “will be very valuable because there is a lot of data that has been collected through the years that need to be evaluated and analyzed for new and fresh ideas,” Kincart said. “Having the coding skills to work this data through legacy and new state-of-the-art programs will be a necessity for the future engineers who will be challenged with the growth strategies for Polk County.”  

Many jobs in the high-tech world, including manufacturing, rely on programming that involves machine learning, mathematical modeling, artificial intelligence and data science, making this an important certificate in Polk County and beyond. 

According to Emeritus.org, “Coding skills are in high demand around the world. To meet this demand, universities are training many computer programmers. Salary as a computer programmer depends on software developing, the coding languages you know, and the applications you can develop.” 

According to a 2020 survey, the median salary was $89,000, the website said.  

“Florida Poly’s forward-thinking approach to STEM programs will generate the needed talent that Polk County must retain to be the desired place to live, work and play in Florida,” Kincart said. 

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