UF creates Engineering Innovation Institute, names first director

In News by Anna Quintana

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The inaugural director has been selected for the newly created Engineering Innovation Institute at the University of Florida.

Erik Sander, whose previous position was director of industry programs at the College of Engineering, has been appointed the director of the college’s Innovation Institute, which is dedicated to developing essential innovation skills in the next generation of engineering leaders.

“This is a passion of mine,” said Sander of his appointment. “Engineering innovation has the capability to change the world. This position gives me an opportunity to do things I think will have a tremendous impact on future generations.”

Sander’s role at the institute will focus on the needs of the faculty, staff and students, and develop programs that will provide them with the engineering and innovation skills needed to positively influence society. The institute has programs committed to invention and entrepreneurship as well as programs focused on transitioning innovative engineering technologies into the marketplace. Innovation and entrepreneurship classes at the institute are offered to undergraduate and graduate students, on the UF campus and online.

“We are thrilled to have Erik join us in this role,” College of Engineering Dean Cammy Abernathy said. “He brings a tremendous amount of experience and dedication to the college as we continue to build a climate and culture for creative and entrepreneurial thought. We believe the Innovation Institute will have a dramatic effect on the way our students and faculty address issues facing society and Erik’s leadership will play a key role in its success.”

Sander graduated from UF in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a master’s of science in management of technology. Before joining the faculty at UF in 1995 as the director of the University Center, Sander worked for 10 years in the aerospace industry, including NASA, and held positions in companies such as General Electric, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney. He has also served as the associate director for the UF Particle Engineering Research Center and as a graduate and undergraduate instructor in engineering entrepreneurship, innovation, and ethics.

The institute will host the first annual Engineering Innovation Summit on Sept. 16, which will bring together engineers, entrepreneurs, and public policy leaders from all over the nation to discuss engineering’s role in building the innovation economy.

For more information, visit www.eng.ufl.edu/innovation.