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Florida Polytechnic University breaks ground on Applied Research Center.

Tampa Bay

Florida Polytechnic University breaks ground on second academic building

Like the school’s iconic main building, the new one will be visible from I-4.

Florida Polytechnic University broke ground Wednesday on its new Applied Research Center. The new building will serve as a research hub for students, faculty and industry members in the Lakeland and Tampa Bay region.

The building, designed to be iconic — like its football-shaped focal point visible from Interstate 4 — will be a more than 85,000-square-foot facility with research and teaching labs, student design space, conference room and faculty offices.

The Applied Research Center (ARC) will be the school’s second academic building.

“The ARC will promote research growth and excellence for the university’s applied science and engineering programs,” said Randy K. Avent, Florida Poly’s president. “It was designed with the goal of creating a dynamic, functional, and flexible space that will assist our faculty and students with the commercialization of innovation and applied research.”

The two-story building will be on the northwest side of campus next to the Innovation, Science, and Technology (IST) Building, and it will also be visible from I-4. Skanska USA is constructing the building. Skanska also developed the IST Building along with architect design firm HOK. Construction is expected to take two years.

“The vision of this university is to prepare students to be able to go forward to have an applied job in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and to adjust and meet the needs of our nation in a quick and nimble way [and] is very exciting,” state Sen. Kelli Stargel said during a groundbreaking ceremony. “I look forward to seeing the fruition of this building and doing everything I can to make sure that we continue with the vision of what Florida Poly is going to be for Polk County and for the state of Florida.”

The Lakeland-based Florida Polytechnic University is the state’s 13th public university and was established to provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused education to make the state competitive with other areas where STEM colleges thrive like Virginia or Georgia.

“Florida Poly has exceeded our expectations,” state Rep. Colleen Burton said. “This groundbreaking of the Applied Research Center is a personal moment of great privilege. I have been able, during my brief tenure so far in the House, to try to make sure this building came to fruition and came to reality. It will be a great economic development boom for our community.”

Florida Polytechnic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the only state university dedicated exclusively to STEM and offers ABET-accredited degrees.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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