Florida Polytechnic University, a.k.a. Florida Poly, is the 12th and newest unit in the State University System of Florida. Having started as a branch campus of the University of South Florida, it was established in 2012 as an independent school. It opened for classes in August, 2014 with an initial enrollment of 554 students. Its first class graduated in January, 2017, with 14 master of science and 4 bachelor of science degrees conferred. In June, 2017, it received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Located in Lakeland, Florida Poly occupies a 170-acre campus near Interstate 4. The campus was designed by Spanish architect and structural engineer Santiago Calatrava. His iconic design of the Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) building provides its focal point. Its roof is made of aluminum louvers, moved by pistons, that regulate entry of sunlight. With a footprint of 162,000 square feet, IST, the main building on campus, contains 26 classrooms, 11 innovation laboratories, auditoriums, meeting rooms, and a digital library. A high-performance IBM supercomputer occupies the Supercomputer and Student Data Center Lab. The Rapid Application Development (RAD) Makerspace Lab is equipped with 3-D printers and digital scanners. Other on-campus buildings include residence halls, admissions center, campus control center, and a Wellness Center which houses a bookstore, health clinic, fitness room, mail center, dining hall, and Starbucks Coffee.
Academically, the focus of Florida Poly is on a STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—curriculum to prepare students for jobs in high-tech fields. The university consists of 2 colleges: the College of Innovation and Technology and the College of Engineering. The College of Innovation and Technology offers bachelor of science degrees in computer science, data analytics, and science and technology management, as well as a master’s degree in innovation and technology. The College of Engineering offers undergraduate degrees in computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering and a master of science degree in engineering.
Recently, Florida Poly announced a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Turnpike Enterprise to build a transportation technology test facility in nearby Auburndale. SunTrax will consist of a 2.25-mile-long oval track with a 200-acre infield located on a 400-acre field. Phase 1 will be construction of a high-speed toll technology testing facility. The next phase will be development of the infield to study automated vehicle safety in various driving environments such as cities, suburbs, and rural areas; at “interconnected signalized intersections, interchange ramps, roundabouts,” and on different types of road surfaces. Expected to be up and running by mid-2020, SunTrax looks promising to be a world-class test site for emerging automotive technologies.