LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Students at Florida Polytechnic University are seeing their academic space double this year.
“It might not be as significant to a student at another university to get a new building but for us, it’s everything,” said Ezekiel Huynh, a junior computer science major.
On Thursday, the university unveiled the new “Applied Research Center,” ushering in a new chapter for Florida’s youngest state university with lofty goals.
“Future is bright for Florida Poly and our ambitions are high. Our goal is to be a premiere STEM university known for producing highly desirable graduates in new technology solutions,” said Florida Polytechnic University president Dr. Randy K. Avent.
It is the second academic building to exist on the Florida Polytechnic campus.
The $47 million facility is more than 90,000 square feet and houses research and teaching labs, student design spaces, conference rooms and faculty offices.
“I’m blown away, really,” said Melanie Brooks, an incoming freshman who eventually wants to work for NASA.
“It’s absolutely amazing. It’s stunning. It’s great,” said Dimitry Jackson, another incoming freshman.
“Having the ARC is a huge breath of relief. It’s a whole new world for us to have here at the university,” said Huynh.
There is space for classes and for students to work on projects but a main focus is faculty research.
“The research lab is where the faculty do research that creates new knowledge and new products that then transitions out into the industry for them to engineer them and commercialize them and sell them,” said Dr. Avent.
Dr. Avent’s vision is for Florida Poly to become a bustling research park surrounding the STEM-focused campus.
He is working to attract businesses to move in there.
International Flavors and Fragrances is breaking ground this fall on an innovation center on campus.
“We’ll be able to do student internships, student careers but also support senior capstone projects and also faculty research as well,” said Dr. Avent.
The university is also looking to add new majors, seeing what’s in demand in Florida and where there’s a gap.
Future majors could include civil engineering and information technology.