Gator Engineering

Education

BY CAROL PROBSTFELD SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY AUG 19, 2017

The easiest decision of my presidency was to partner with the University of Florida to bring Gator Engineering at SCF to our Venice campus. From the moment discussions began about the possibility of a partnership between State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota and the University of Florida, I knew it was the right thing for our college and our region.

Gator Engineering at SCF provides a clear pathway for students from our region to be accepted to the University of Florida’s prestigious Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. For three semesters, they will receive high-level instruction at SCF that will prepare them to finish their degree at UF and go forward in their careers as both Manatees and Gators.

The University of Florida is unable to admit all the qualified students who apply to its engineering program each year. Ten students who met UF’s requirements accepted the opportunity to attend SCF and participate in the Gator Engineering program.

Students in the first Gator Engineering at SCF class, recruited from a six-county region that includes Manatee and Sarasota counties, will begin their college careers this month on our Venice Campus. SCF’s state-college environment provides these students with smaller class sizes, direct engagement with our professors, and a very affordable tuition rate. Assuming they complete all their requirements satisfactorily, they will move on to the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering in Gainesville for their fourth semester, reverse transfer their credits to be awarded an Associate of Arts degree from SCF, and then continue to work toward their bachelor’s degree at UF.

We officially opened the Gator Den on our Venice Campus Aug. 17. Thanks to our partners at the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, our Gator Engineering at SCF students have their own space to congregate and study and an advisor dedicated to helping them navigate this two-institution program.

The aspect of this program that really excites me is the ability for these students to maintain their ties to our region through internships and the relationships they build with our local companies. For years, local employers have asked me to help bring an engineering program and interns to this area. Gator Engineering brings the talent to their doorstep.

We lose so many talented students from our area—when they leave for a state university, they often do not return to pursue their professional career. With our partners at the Innovation Station these students will be able to find local opportunities and bring their skills back to our region after they finish with UF in Gainesville.

Gator Engineering at SCF is just one example of the partnerships SCF can be part of with our state universities. I am open to any partnership that leads to the higher education opportunities that our community needs.

Gator Engineering at SCF gives high-performing students from our region an affordable first-step toward an engineering degree at UF. For our employers, it provides a pool of qualified candidates for internships and future employment. This is a solid win for our community and a program to which I could not say “yes” to fast enough.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

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