June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.279.1 - 11.279.15
Blank Slate Engineering at Florida Gulf Coast University –
Innovative and Multidisciplinary from the Ground Up
The history of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is built on visionary support for higher education in one of the fastest growing areas of the nation – Southwest (SW) Florida. In the 1980s, community leaders began the initiative to establish a state university in SW Florida to serve the needs of Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties (referred to as the 5- county region) and beyond. By 1991, the Florida Board of Regents formally recommended the development of Florida’s tenth state university, and Governor Lawton Chiles signed the legislation authorizing the new university. In 1992, the Board of Regents selected a 760-acre site in Lee County (between Naples and Ft. Myers) that had been donated by Alico, Inc. (www.alicoinc.com). FGCU opened its doors in August 1997 with 2,584 students (1602 undergraduate, 295 graduate, and 687 non-degree seeking) and grew to a total of 7,223 students (5,972 undergraduate, 763 graduate, and 488 non-degree seeking) in fall 2005.
From its beginning, long-range plans for FGCU included a School of Engineering to complement areas of specialization within the university. A 2000 Area Educational Program Needs Assessment Report conducted by MGT of America (Tallahassee, FL) stated that there was widespread interest throughout SW Florida for civil, electrical, mechanical, agricultural, and possibly computer engineering courses. The report also stated that the increasing need for growth management and municipal planners throughout the region spurred the need for additional civil engineers, but that the concentration of engineering employers was somewhat limited in the region at that time.
A study conducted by Dr. James Koch (Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and President Emeritus, Old Dominion University) during 2002-2003 echoed the need for a School of Engineering at FGCU. The report states: “The message is clear. Ft. Myers, by usual standards of measurement, is not a high technology area, even though some high technology employers are present. As a result, the region does not boast the technology related, knowledge-based jobs that one sees in other regions. And that, in turn, means that the region does not host as many highly attractive jobs that tend to offer higher than average salaries and which, in turn, often are connected to the generation of even more jobs. It is precisely this deficiency that engineering at Florida Gulf Coast University will address.”1 The Koch Report also stated that “SW Florida is the largest metropolitan region [MSA] in the United States not to host an accredited engineering program” and went on to recommend that FGCU offer degrees in environmental engineering, biotechnology engineering, and engineering management.
Blanchard, S., & Egiebor, N., & Sweeney, J., & Zidek, L., & Sechrist, C., & Hulbert, S., & Osborn, J., & O'Neill, R. (2006, June), Blank Slate Engineering At Florida Gulf Coast University – Innovative And Multidisciplinary From The Ground Up Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/490
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