New Gulf Coast Community Foundation Grant Expands Innovators Program!

This article was originally published as “Gulf Coast Grant to Foster More Local Engineering Talent” at Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has awarded a $61,500 grant to the University of Florida Foundation to continue its support for the UF Innovation Station Sarasota County (UFIS-SC), the first UF engineering extension office. With funds from the Gulf Coast grant, UFIS-SC is providing stipends to selected Gator Engineering students to help them succeed in internships and work/study programs with local industry partners in the Sarasota area.

Gulf Coast has collaborated with UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering through UFIS-SC since its inception, with the end goal of increasing the base of engineers and innovators who call Sarasota home.
During summer 2018, UFIS-SC placed 38 engineering students from UF and the Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program at 27 companies in the Sarasota region. Thanks to a previous Gulf Coast Community Foundation grant, UFIS-SC was able to award stipends to 10 of those students, who used them toward expenses for lodging, travel, and food during their internships. They also saved some of the money toward tuition for the 2018-2019 school year.

Based on that success and feedback from the students and the participating companies at which they interned, UF requested expanding to 20 student stipends in 2019 with Gulf Coast’s support. The new grant will enable UFIS-SC to award $3,000 stipends to 20 students.

“[This] internship has helped solidify my choice of computer engineering and has helped get me more excited for my future as an engineer,” said Ben Pepper, one of the Gator Engineering @ SCF students, who interned at DTC Engineering last summer.

Shay Atluru, the CEO/President of DTC, wasn’t sure what he could expect from the internship program, but according to an interview in the SCF Foundation magazine, “working with Benjamin Pepper proved the program is delivering what it promised.”

“I saw an opportunity to get young, smart minds in engineering,” said Atluru. “Engineers are in short supply throughout the world. I could have 10 more Bens here working in paid internships. He’s not getting coffee or making copies; he’s doing highly technical things, including drafting and design work.”

“The aim of this program is to encourage talented students to stay in the region and help grow the local economy,” said UFIS Regional Director Allen Carlson. “UF’s presence as a resource for the industry in the region has grown as a result of our collaboration, and we anticipate continued engagement with businesses moving forward.”

About the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida houses one of the largest and most dynamic engineering programs in the nation. The curriculum offered across nine departments, 15 degree programs, and more than 20 centers and institutes produce leaders and problem-solvers who take a multidisciplinary approach to innovative and human-centered solutions. Students, faculty, and alumni are hailed as New Engineers who aim to transform the way we live, work and play. The college produces inventions at twice the national average – and startups at five times the national average – for every research dollar spent. Engineering is the largest professional school, the second largest college, and one of the top three research units at UF. Established in 1910, the college was named after Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Herbert Wertheim in 2015.

Contact: Diane Choate, Public Relations Strategist
Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
University of Florida

About Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Together with its donors, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation transforms our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital. Since then, it has become the philanthropic home of more than 800 families, individuals, organizations, and businesses that have established charitable funds there and has invested over $320 million in grants in the areas of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at

Contact: Greg Luberecki
Director of Communications and Public Relations
Gulf Coast Community Foundation
941.486.4608 | c 301.466.9594