Florida’s newest public university is officially open for business by showcasing the high-tech landmark on its Lakeland campus.
Florida Polytechnic University – in a ceremony with Gov. Rick Scott, administrators, campus leaders and more than 1,000 supporters — unveiled its flagship Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building at a public LAUNCH Ceremony Saturday afternoon.
The celebration featured an actual “launch,” highlighted by a vivid pyrotechnics display showering the IST Building and the adjacent campus lake.
Joining Scott in the event were Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Lakeland-area state Rep. Seth McKeel, Florida Board of Governors head Wendy Link and former state Sen. J.D. Alexander, who pushed through the legislation creating Florida Poly.
“Florida Polytechnic University’s strong focus on STEM education and its dedication to helping students graduate with the skills they will need to get a great job will play a key role in creating jobs for the next generation in Florida,” Scott said. “A highly skilled workforce will ensure that companies in Florida will be able to grow.”
Designed by world-renowned architect and Polytechnic graduate Dr. Santiago Calatrava, the IST Building will serve as the primary classroom structure as Florida Poly welcomes its Inaugural Class in the fall 2014 semester. Called a “movable and functional work of art,” the 162,000-square-foot, white-domed structure features a distinctive louvered roof system that adjusts with the sun’s angle and is surrounded by a ring of curved metal pergolas that shade the outer terrace and walkways.
“I am honored to have been involved in this project dedicated to the study of science, technology, engineering and math – a set of subjects so crucial to our society and our economy. I am proud of what we have all achieved and I hope the young people that study here will be inspired to be creative and to meet their potential,” Calatrava said.
Constructed by New York-based Skanska USA, the IST building will house classrooms, auditoriums, administrative offices, common areas and a number of cutting-edge laboratories. In addition, there is a Supercomputer, Student Data Center, a Visualization and Technology Collaboration (VTC) Lab and a Rapid Application Development (RAD) Makerspace Lab with 3D printing capabilities. IST took 28 months to construct.
“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,” said Florida Polytechnic President Dr. Randy K. Avent.
Saturday’s outdoor ceremony followed PIVOT, a philanthropic gala the evening before, which raised more than $3.6 million in scholarship money for Florida Polytechnic University’s Inaugural Class.
Established by the Florida Legislature on April 20, 2012, Florida Poly is the 12th member of the State University System. The school offers a distinctive curriculum focusing exclusively on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, as well as applied research, industry partnerships and real-world experience.