The University of Florida Innovation Station Sarasota County (UFIS) was established to assist the Sarasota region with economic development based on creating a STEM/Engineering talent pipeline for the area to grow its high-tech economy.
Through a solid partnership with community champions of economic development and STEM education, including Sarasota County, the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, the Barancik Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, UFIS helps elevate awareness of STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math) professions through proactive K-12 outreach. UFIS also identifies and recruits students into the innovative Gator Engineering at State College of Florida (SCF) program. Gator Engineering at SCF provides students with resources and opportunities to begin their academic experience in engineering at SCF before they matriculate to the University of Florida in Gainesville. Nine students from the first cohort of Gator Engineers at SCF have successfully completed their freshman year. There are 15 students in the second cohort, which started in fall 2018. In just two years, UFIS has already guided 25 Sarasota-area students into the engineering field; and the numbers are expected to grow steadily.
With a local office right in the heart of the county’s business and talent hub, UFIS also helps connect students with continuous, hands-on STEM learning to real-life applications through internship opportunities and summer work experiences. So far, more than 60 UF and Gator Engineering at SCF students have completed internships with Sarasota-area companies. UF plans to establish more innovation stations with this unique STEM Education – Economic Development – High-tech Economy Success model tailored to specific communities’ needs throughout the state of Florida.