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Florida Tech receives state funding for equipment, Lagoon Research Initiative

Florida Tech will receive vital funding in the 2022-23 state budget for equipment for its growing health sciences and advanced manufacturing programs and for ongoing efforts to help the Indian River Lagoon thanks to the efforts of legislators and the final approval Thursday of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The university will receive $2 million for its Biomedical Aerospace Manufacturing (BAM) specialized equipment project and $921,500 for the Restore Lagoon Inflow (RLI) temporary demonstration project’s U.S. Army Corps permitting and design engineering phase (Phase III of the overall project).

“Florida’s high-tech workforce and celebrated quality of life are two pillars of the Sunshine State’s economic success, and Florida Tech is honored to play a role in strengthening both of these critical areas,” said Acting President Marco Carvalho. “We thank Gov. DeSantis and our STEM supporters in the legislature for giving us the tools to help our students and faculty make a difference.”

The funding measures were sponsored in the Florida House by Rep. Randy Fine and Rep. Thad Altman and in the Florida Senate by Sen. Tom Wright and Sen. Debbie Mayfield, and championed by former Rep. Rene Plasencia.

BAM will help secure equipment for Florida Tech’s new Gordon Nelson Health Sciences building and its Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design, creating availability across university programs for the biomedical, aerospace and manufacturing sectors.

The addition of equipment such as atomic force microscopes, virtual dissection tables and specialized 3-D printers will provide powerful opportunities for exposing students to equipment Florida’s targeted industries are using, and will be using, to develop new technologies and new jobs.

Providing technology access and enhanced capability for Florida Tech students, as well as for broader career and skill engagement programs, BAM will increase STEM workforce availability, hands-on project work in areas such as prosthetics and tissue generation, and career awareness for the growing biomedical, aerospace and manufacturing targeted industries in Florida.

As university researchers prepare the third phase of the RLI initiative and process the incoming data, next steps include permitting and continued research supporting the demonstration project at Port Canaveral involving the careful, temporary introduction of low-volume amounts of sea water into the Indian River Lagoon.

Initial findings from the Florida Tech-led team suggest the ailing estuary would benefit from a nudge of human intervention to help rejuvenate the natural processes that have historically aided the recycling and removal of excess nutrients.