Gainesville, Florida – Sarasota County commissioners have unanimously approved extending funding, matched by UF funding, for University of Florida Innovation Station Sarasota County (UFIS-SC) through 2027.
UFIS-SC was formed in 2016 and is the first extension office for the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. It was developed to strengthen the region’s innovation economy, support the growth of high-tech, high-wage jobs, increase technology transfer and employee retention and foster start-up opportunities in the Sarasota area.
Sarasota County Commissioner Mike Moran voiced his support, “We know local industry is hungry for talent. It’s exciting to see University of Florida making a direct contribution to providing that talent.”
Since its launch, UF Innovation Station has placed over 100 UF engineering interns at more than 40 local companies, and arranged 12 capstone projects with companies in the region. UFIS-SC also ushered 41 students majoring in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Digital Arts and Science into the Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program during the program’s first three years. And this year, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering were added to the list of the program’s options to continue boosting the talent pipeline.
“The Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program has grown each year thanks to the support of the UF Innovation Station in student recruiting and internships,” said Dr. Carol Probstfeld, President, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. “Our partnership will continue to expand and educate even more of the engineers that help Manatee and Sarasota Counties grow and prosper.”
Dr. Cammy Abernathy, Dean of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering stated, “As we near the four-year anniversary of the launch of UF Innovation Station, we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the support of Sarasota County and great partners like the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation.”
UF Innovation Station’s K-12 outreach has reached more than 3,000 students in the region’s elementary, middle and high schools through classroom support and outreach efforts. More than 450 local students have participated in field trips to University of Florida-Gainesville for hands-on activities, demonstrations and lab tours in the College of Engineering. Recognizing the importance of supporting teachers in order to build a talent pipeline, University of Florida is providing teacher professional development and training to 28 teachers from Sarasota County through a UF grant from the US Department of Education.
“This is my first year teaching coding classes, and it is so helpful to be able to incorporate sensor and probe technology into all of my courses, especially for students who really benefit from the hands-on approach to learning,” said Booker Middle School science teacher, Karen Hart.
The continued funding will bolster UF Innovation Station’s mission of economic development through growing talent and technology pipelines, industry collaboration, workforce development and K-12 initiatives.