In the three years since its completion, Florida Polytechnic University’s unique architecture has been turning heads and piquing the curiosity of Central Florida residents as they travel west on Interstate 4 toward Lakeland. Members of the Central Florida Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC), a group that engages up-and-coming talent, heard the story behind the distinctive building from the university’s foremost expert – Florida Polytechnic founding President, Dr. Randy K. Avent, during their August gathering.

According to Dr. Avent, the building, designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is a 162,000-square-foot oval that houses offices, classroom space and a bookless library. Calatrava is known for his complicated designs and, by Dr. Avent’s accounts, it was just as challenging to make the vision for a new university in Florida a reality, specifically one teaching technical skills.

“The story of Florida Polytech was fascinating in how it took tenacity and determination to pull it off,” said Alexis Jett, an YPAC member. “It’s really a life lesson in how to follow your dreams, work hard, and hopefully see the results of that work.”

The university opened for classes in 2014 with a mission to prepare 21st century learners in advanced fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to become innovative problem-solvers and high-tech professionals. Its education model is based off the same model employed by MIT – keeping faculty engaged in the industry’s private sector as well as in the classroom.

Florida Poly is now partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation to build the state’s first autonomous vehicle test track, SunTrax. Once completed, Florida Poly students and faculty will lead the research on autonomous vehicle technology testing. Because the school’s leaders believe progress is made through the sharing of knowledge, all of their research, including that on autonomous vehicles, is open to researchers and people outside of the university.

See pictures from the YPAC meeting by clicking here.

About YPAC
Each Investor in the Orlando Economic Partnership and each member of the Orlando, Inc. Board of Directors has the opportunity to select one employee, under the age of 35, to represent their organization at YPAC meetings. Listening carefully to the voices of young professionals, especially when it comes to key community issues, helps the Partnership better frame the public policy debate across the region. Through a commitment to an issue-driven advisory body that does not circumvent existing groups and organizations of young professionals, YPAC works to complement the many efforts already in place and underway. To engage with YPAC, contact Danielle Permenter at 407.835.2444 or