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Using Advanced Technology to Build a 21st Century University Experience

Tom Hull at TechConnect

Florida Polytechnic University Vice President and CIO Tom Hull joined Cisco Vice President Pat Finn via TelePresence at the CSN Tech Connection at the College of Southern Nevada on January 15th.

As Florida Polytechnic University’s Chief Information Officer, my job is to ensure the University uses modern and emerging technologies to offer our students experiential learning opportunities. The higher education industry is undergoing a paradigm shift in which technology for teaching and learning is a part of the educational ecosystem and something that students expect. At Florida Poly, we need to use these technologies to give students the best learning experience possible.

Our Vision for the Future

Florida Poly’s vision is to be a bright star in the high-tech corridor we’re building in Central Florida, creating a Silicon Valley-like environment. We’re going to accomplish this vision by building an extremely modern campus (probably the most modern in the United States) with technologically advanced features available to students and faculty. In addition to the features our campus itself will offer, we have applied research, a bright faculty leading advanced programs and higher education partnerships with industry organizations to help us accomplish our mission and vision.

Our university’s architecture will be student-centric, and our technological foundation will be a Florida Poly cloud that includes all emerging technology in the world of higher education. This cloud will be accessible to both students and faculty and will feature a student information system that will provide an easy way for students, faculty and staff to obtain resources. This cloud will also include a virtual library environment that has access to digital databases and research repositories, essentially replacing the traditional library system.

In addition, Florida Poly will feature state-of-the-art teaching labs and learning spaces, as well as virtual classrooms and online education resources. We will also offer hybrid courses that offer both online resources as well as classroom teaching and learning. Our textbooks won’t be traditional course books. Instead, we’re using tablets capable of featuring ebooks. We think it’s important to adapt our education systems to embrace mobile usage trends that our students and faculty are accustomed to using, allowing us to foster an open technology environment.

Campus Features

An important component of our open technology environment will be a campus that features the latest generation of wi-fi capabilities that are open to any platform. We’re using a full suite of Cisco technology to build this “any time, anywhere” Internet access. Students will be able to use their mobile devices anywhere on campus to pull up their latest assignment, research materials from our online database or access other information in the Florida Poly cloud.

Our admissions center also incorporates the latest technology, including high-definition touch screen devices that are surface capable and robots that respond to voice commands and remote PC controls. These robots will greet visitors as they enter the Admissions Center, escorting them back to meet with admissions counselors stationed throughout the building.

Perhaps the largest and most well-known technology feature our campus will offer is the Innovation, Science and Technology Building, or IST Building for short. This building, created by world-renowned architect, engineer and polytechnic graduate Dr. Santiago Calatrava, will be the center of campus life and is quickly becoming a Florida icon. The IST Building will serve as the hub for campus activity, as well as offer additional teaching space by featuring life sciences labs, biology labs, chemistry labs and other state-of-the-art advanced labs that are still under development.

The IST Building will also feature solar panels and other building automation systems that help us maintain a green campus. These building automation systems will allow us to efficiently control air conditioning, heating, water chillers and more. Your typical college campus won’t be able to offer these features as they are older and often need maintenance problems. We’re putting intelligence into our infrastructure and using advanced technology to build our campus from the ground up.

Student Benefits

Our entire purpose behind building this campus with so much care and consideration is to create something innovative that will ultimately benefit our students. We’re using innovation to create new technology for the world to see, and this experience will be personalized for our students. They will have access to emerging and advanced technologies other universities won’t be able to rival.

Florida Poly’s innovation won’t just come through the technology we offer, but also through the projects that our faculty delivers to students. Yes, there is technology that you can buy and implement, but our motto here is innovation and creativity. We want to build what’s going to be the next generation of technology, and if students are interested in creating that next great technological advancement, then our campus is the place to be.

What all this boils down to is that Florida Poly isn’t going to be innovative in just one aspect of how we operate: Our faculty, curriculum, degree programs and technology are all operating on state-of-the-art features and innovation. The combination of technology, applied research opportunities and industry partnerships will allow our students to graduate from Florida Poly ready to enter the professional world and create innovative solutions. We believe our student-centric architecture, state-of-the-art teaching facilities, “any time, anywhere” access to data and applied research methods will help our students leave Florida Poly ready to make great strides in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For more information on degrees offered at Florida Poly and the STEM focused curriculum, check out our Academics page.

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