Florida Poly Celebrates Second Commencement

LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic University held its second-ever graduation during a spring commencement ceremony on campus Friday.

Twenty-four students, including four who will finish courses over the summer, received degrees in either Innovation and Technology, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology, or Science and Technology Management.

“We are pleased and proud to honor these students and their achievements,” said Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent. “This university is preparing individuals who will have a significant impact on the state’s workforce and economy through their problem-solving innovation and leadership in high-tech fields. We wish them continued success as they begin their careers, and we look forward to seeing what they do next.”

Dedicated exclusively to applied learning and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Florida Poly was established to be an innovative institution and powerful resource for economic advancement, training the next generation to be leaders and entrepreneurs in high-tech industries. The school opened in August 2014 with more than 550 students, including first-time freshmen, transfers and graduate students. In fall 2016, the student population topped 1,300 with an average high school GPA of 3.78 and average ACT and SAT scores of 26 and 1,672 respectively.

Earlier this year, Florida Poly graduated its first class – an historic milestone for the state’s newest university and a required step in the process toward achieving regional accreditation. Eighteen students participated in January’s inaugural commencement ceremony. Since then, all have gone on to either assume positions with high-tech firms, start their own companies or pursue doctorate degrees.

“This ceremony is testament to our students’ talent, hard work and perseverance,” said Florida Poly Provost Dr. Terry Parker. “Florida Poly’s curriculum is challenging with industry based projects embedded in courses so that students must collaborate to solve real-world problems. It’s not easy, but through this process, Florida Poly graduates will enter the workforce job-ready with applicable experience.”

Twenty-four graduates attended the ceremony, which took place in the second-floor Commons area of the Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building in Lakeland. Former Member of the Florida House of Representatives Seth McKeel delivered the graduation commencement address.

Florida Poly Graduate Constanze Knahl was the featured student graduation speaker. She is originally from Germany, and one of the university’s first Fulbright Scholars. After graduation, Knahl plans to return to Germany to work with her previous employer Deloitte in IT consulting.

“My experience here at Florida Poly is more than I could have hoped for,” said Knahl, who will complete her Master of Science in Innovation & Technology over the summer. “I am thrilled to be a part of an institution that offers so many opportunities, from campus associations and collaborations to local internships working side-by-side with industry partners. This journey came with many valuable lessons and I will carry them with me throughout my future personal and professional endeavors.”

Several graduates have already landed jobs with companies such as GC Services (FL), Harris Corporation (FL), Sensidyne (FL), and Micron (Idaho).

Recent significant milestones for Florida Poly over the past academic year include:

  • Enrolling more than 1,300 students – a record – for the fall 2016 semester.
  • Achieving “Candidacy for Accreditation” status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation to create SunTrax, a high-tech hub for the research, development and testing of emerging transportation technologies.
  • Signing international agreements with universities and organizations in Morocco and Brazil to create study abroad and faculty exchange programs.
  • Hosting its first international conference in collaboration with India’s Panjab University, which took place in India earlier this month.