The Florida Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Florida Tech or FIT), is a private research university located in Melbourne, Florida, United States. Florida Tech has five academic divisions with strong emphases on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Its 130-acre primary campus is located near the Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Tech Research Park, which hosts numerous high-tech companies, and a large concentration of technology-sector jobs in the USA.
Founded in 1958 as Brevard Engineering College, the university has been known by its present name since 1966. As of 2012, Florida Tech had an on campus student body of 4,200, almost equally divided between graduate- and undergraduate-level students, with the plurality of them focusing their studies on engineering and the sciences. An additional 3,400 study online and 1,200 reside at extended campuses.
Despite its small size and young history, Florida Tech is consistently ranked among the best national doctoral-granting universities in the US. Florida Tech has more than 50,000 alumni, including a National Teacher of the Year recipient, director of a NASA center, five astronauts who have flown on the Space Shuttle, several astronaut candidates, the first female four-star general, two other four-star generals and nearly two dozen other generals, a 1992 Olympic medalist, a major league pitcher, and thousands that serve as scientists, engineers, pilots, and managers in many high-technology enterprises.
When Florida Institute of Technology was founded in 1958, classes were held in leased classrooms at Eau Gallie Junior High School (now Westshore Junior/Senior High School at 250 West Brevard Avenue) and at University of Melbourne's lone building on Country Club Boulevard. Classes were moved from Eau Gallie Junior High School to Melbourne Methodist Church on Waverly St. in 1959 after the school district disapproved of two black students using the junior high school classrooms.
In 1961, Brevard Engineering College purchased the property of the University of Melbourne (Florida) which became the main campus in the heart of Melbourne, Florida. The only existing building at the time was the current Ray A. Work building. The next building to be built was the Keuper building, originally used as a library. Today it houses the Admissions, Financial Aid and Student Employment departments. In the 1960s and 1970s many buildings were constructed on the main campus.
Since 1996 the university has been in the midst of much construction and expansion. Following a $50 million grant given to them by the F. W. Olin Foundation, Florida Tech has constructed three new facilities for their engineering, life science, and physical science departments.
In the early 1990s Florida Institute of Technology changed its promotional identity from FIT to Florida Tech, to avoid confusion with the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York. This name change created some confusion in the Orlando, Florida area with the existing Florida Technical College and Florida Technological University, the former name of the University of Central Florida.
As part of Florida Tech's 50th Anniversary celebration, new constructions began in summer of 2006 with the construction of the Panthereum, a concert and lecture venue located adjacent to the Homer Denius Student Center. The south campus began expansion as well. A new, three-building residence hall complex, Harris Village, was completed in time for the fall 2008 semester.
More south campus construction began in 2008 with the start of the Scott Center for Autism Treatment and the Harris Center for Science and Engineering. Construction will begin in 2009 on a new dining center, parking complex, and NCAA-certified swimming pool and diving center. On the main campus, the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts is rising quickly next to Evans Library.
The northern part of Florida Tech's main campus contains some rich history. The headwaters of Crane Creek are located here, and the creek begins in the Botanical Gardens southeast of Columbia Village Suites. These Botanical Gardens, colloquially referred to as 'The Jungle' or yet more informally, 'The Swamp,' occupy much of the northeastern part of the main campus and are home to a wide variety of local species, with transient visits from alligators and manatees. Crisscrossed by several trails (the main one is named for Dent Smith), they contain a collection of many varieties of palm trees and other flora. Numerous bridges on campus provide crossings over two of the three streams that feed Crane Creek. The third stream comes south from the Roberts Hall and Columbia Village Suites area to the north.
The Jungle is colloquially divided into the "near Jungle" and "deep Jungle", with the former consisting of the area near campus with paved or wooden paths and bridges and the latter consisting of the more distant portions in which trails are simply worn paths through the vegetation. The plants and structures of the near Jungle are actively maintained by campus, while the deep Jungle has reverted to primarily Florida wilderness. Small wooden pagodas are scattered through the deep jungle, and students have previously set up hammocks. There are numerous "regions" of the deep jungle, characterized by their flora, including a heavily wooded area lacking significant undergrowth and an area directly behind Evans Dormitory replete with extremely large pothos.
This area around Crane Creek was known as Cathead in the early 20th century after numerous panthers that lived in this area.
Melbourne's first (one-room) wooden school house is here, at the end of the Dent Smith Trail, northwest of the Evans Library.
The railroad of the Union Cypress Company traveled from east to west here just south of the Crawford Science Tower. It carried lumber from cypress swamps to the west, to the former mill town of Hopkins, just south of Crane Creek and U.S. 1.
In 1968, the Hydrospace Technical Institute (HTI) was chartered in a donated building in Cocoa Beach. In 1972, the campus of Saint Joseph College of Florida located on the Indian River in Jensen Beach, Florida was purchased with the support of Ralph Evinrude, owner of Outboard Marine Corporation and husband of Frances Langford. The HTI was moved to Jensen Beach, and became the School of Marine and Environmental Technology(SOMET). The Jensen Beach campus closed in 1986 and SOMET was transferred to the main campus to become the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences(DMES). An MBA program had been started on the campus and it was continued for a time in rented quarters on East Ocean Boulevard in Sewall's Point. The campus in Jensen Beach was subsequently sold. The dormitories and cafeteria located on the hill west of N.E. Sewall's Point Road were torn down and replaced by an assisted living facility. The rest of the campus lying east of Sewall's Point Road is now owned by the Martin County government and is now the Martin County Indian Riverside Park. The old chapel building is being converted into the Children's Museum of Martin County while the former administration building (once a home called Tuckahoe) located on Mount Elizabeth, which is actually a Native American midden, is being restored by the Friends of Mount Elizabeth. The library and classroom buildings and the old metal building were all demolished.
Florida Tech has been sponsoring and hosting a "Business Ethics Competition" since 1996 for Brevard County high schools.
In 2009, Florida Tech opened the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts. In 2011, Florida Tech merged with the Brevard Art Museum to form the Foosaner Art Museum.
Florida Tech's main campus is located in Melbourne, Florida.
Florida Tech also has Extended Studies Sites at Huntsville, Alabama (Redstone Arsenal Graduate Center), Fort Eustis, Virginia (Hampton Roads Graduate Center – Fort Eustis) (Army Education Center), Fort Monroe, Virginia (Hampton Roads Graduate Center – Fort Monroe) (Army Education Center), Fort Lee, Virginia (Fort Lee Graduate Center), Alexandria, Virginia (National Capital Region (NCR) Graduate Center – Alexandria), Quantico, Virginia (National Capital Region (NCR) Graduate Center – Quantico), Dover, New Jersey (Northeast Graduate Center – Picatinny Arsenal), Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst (Northeast Graduate Center – Lakehurst), Lexington Park, Maryland (Patxuent River Graduate Center), Aberdeen Proving Ground (Aberdeen Graduate Center), Kennedy Space Center (Spaceport Graduate Center – KSC) (The Center for Space Education), Rockledge, Florida (Spaceport Graduate Center – Rockledge), and Orlando, Florida (Orlando Graduate Center).
Florida Tech’s administration is headed by the Executive Council, consisting of President and CEO Anthony J. Catanese, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President T. Dwayne McCay, Senior Vice President for Financial Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Robert Niebuhr, and Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer Susan St. Onge.
Under COO McCay are the six individual college deans, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Garry Hamme, Vice President for Research Frank Kinney, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students Rodney Bowers, Vice President for Facility Operations Greg Tsark, Vice President for Information Technology Eric Kledzik, Director for Facility Security P. Porche, Registrar Charlotte Young.
Academic Affairs covers the graduate and international programs, study abroad programs, institutional research, the university safety office, and the Evans Library. Enrollment Management covers undergraduate and graduate admissions as well as financial aid and scholarships office. Vice Provost for Research covers sponsored programs, Institute for Energy Systems, Intellectual Property, Institute for Computing and Information Systems, Institute for Materials Science and Nanotechnology, National Center for Hydrogen Research, Institute for Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Women's Business Center, and Institute for Marine Research. Student Affairs covers the Office of Student Life, which includes Residence Life and student organizations, Career Services and Cooperative Education, International Student and Scholar Services, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Campus Ministry, and the Holzer Health Center/OMNI Health Care. Auxiliary Enterprises include the Clemente Center, Athletics, Food Services, Campus Services, Bookstore, and ELS Language Center.
The college had a $200 million budget for 2012–2013. It employed about 1,410 people.
As of Fall 2012, Florida Tech enrolled 8,816 students. The male to female ratio in the student body was 72:28. 71% of all students came from the United States, representing 47 states; 38% of those were from Florida and 29% of all students came from 97 other countries.
The university offers degrees in a wide variety of science and engineering disciplines, and is one of the few universities to offer an aviation degree. Florida Institute of Technology is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The Engineering programs are also accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The Computer Science program is accredited by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board. Its chemistry program is accredited by the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society. Aeronautical Science and Aviation Management programs are accredited by the Council on Aviation Accreditation. The Clinical Psychology PsyD program is accredited by the American Psychological Association, and the graduate Behavior Analysis programs by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). The university is divided into six colleges: College of Aeronautics, College of Engineering, Nathan M. Bisk College of Business, College of Psychology and Liberal Arts, College of Science, and University College.
As of 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranks Florida Tech a first-tier national university and among the 4 best universities in Florida, joining University of Miami, University of Florida, and Florida State University. U.S. News & World Report ranks FIT the #2 best private Florida university and #160 among all national universities.
Florida Tech was listed as #3 of the 20 fastest-growing campuses, 2000-2010, among private nonprofit research institutions in the Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac 2012.
In 2010, Forbes Magazine rated Florida Tech as one of the top 20 colleges that leave graduates with the most debt. However, in 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek rated FIT as the best Florida college in return on investment (ROI). PayScale also rates FIT highly in ROI, ranking FIT #2 best in Florida. Also, according PayScale, Florida Tech graduates receive the highest starting salaries and have the highest mid-career salaries among all Florida university graduates.
Barron's Guide rates Florida Tech a "Best Buy" in College Education. FIT is one of the top 13 technical institutions in engineering and one of the nation's top 18 technological institutions in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2009. In 2009, Washington Monthly ranked Florida Tech's ROTC program first in nation and rated Florida Tech as the top private university in Florida; listing research impact as one of the ranking criteria.
As of 2012, Florida Tech has a current value of research sponsored projects of over $94 million. During 2009-2012, the number of Florida Tech faculty who serve as principal investigators increased by 100% including 4 recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Awards. During this time period, five new interdisciplinary research institutes were initiated that are the focal point for Florida Tech undergraduate and graduate research. These new research university institutes include: Human Centered Design Institute, Institute for Energy Systems, Institute for Marine Research, Institute for Materials Science & Nanotechnology and Institute for Research on Global Climate Change. Other research facilities include: Harris Institute for Assured Information, Institute for Computing and Information Systems, National Center for Hydrogen Research, Institute for Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and the National Center for Small Business Information.
In the college of engineering, faculty performs research as part of numerous departmental laboratories and research groups. These include: Robotics and Spatial Systems, Laser, Optics, and Instrumentation Laboratory, Wind and Hurricane Impact Research Laboratory, Wireless Center of Excellence, Information Characterization and Exploitation Laboratory, BioComplex Laboratory, Computer Vision Group, Laboratory for Learning Research, Software Evolution Laboratory, Center for Software Testing Research, and others.
Faculty and students in the Physics/Space Science department conduct research in Astronomy and Astrophysics, High Energy Physics (experimental particle physics), Lightning, Solid State and Condensed Matter Physics, and Space and Magnetospheric Physics.
In 2012, Florida Tech’s endowment was approximately $49.6 million, significantly lower than other competitive technical universities like Virginia Tech, MIT, and Georgia Tech, mainly due to Florida Tech’s short history. It is projected that the university’s financial structure will improve by 2014, to increase its endowment to $100 million or more.
The athletic teams at Florida Tech are known as the Panthers. The school fields 22 sports, 11 each for men and women, at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the Sunshine State Conference. The sports include: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's crew, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track & field, and women's volleyball.
The university has recently embarked on an expansion of the athletic program, adding men's and women's track & field in Spring 2011. Followed by men's and women's swimming & diving teams in Fall 2011 and men's lacrosse in Spring 2012. It was announced by President Catanese in May 2010, that FIT was going to begin a football program and plans to hold its inaugural season in 2013. The school is negotiating with local secondary schools to use one of the local school's football stadium. The school is exploring options to play in the NAIA or NCAA Division II as an independent team, or join the DII Gulf South Conference as an affiliate member for football because the Sunshine State Conference is one without football.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield attended Florida Tech and set the home run record in 1987 as a first baseman. His number (3) was retired in 2006.
Florida Tech won the NCAA Division II National Championship in Men's soccer in 1988 and again in 1991.
Florida Tech's Daniela Iacobelli won the National NCAA Division II Woman's Golf Championship in 2007.
A highly residential campus, Florida Tech has seven traditional residence halls, an eight-building Southgate Apartments complex, the seven-building Columbia Village suites and three-building Harris Village suites.
Florida Institute of Technology currently has approximately 95 active student organizations on campus. The university-sponsored student organizations, such as Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board, the Homecoming Committee, FITV (CCTV Channel 99 on campus), and The Crimson (student-run university newspaper) operate in primary university funding. Some organizations are run by membership dues, such as the many fraternities and sororities on campus, as well as certain professional organizations like American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), IEEE and AIAA. Other organizations are operated via Student Activities Funding Committee funding, overseen by the Student Government Association Treasurer. Organizations like Residence Hall Association, ACM, Anime Club, and others are operated by SAFC funding. Arts, media, and performance organizations include: Amateur Radio Club, Belletrist, College Players, Dance Association, Film Society, FITV, Florida Tech Pep Band, The Crimson and WFIT.
Students at Florida Tech have the opportunity to participate in a number of club and intramural sports in addition to the varsity athletics programs. The university offers intramural sports in: Flag Football, Ultimate Frisbee, martial arts, paintball, Disc Golf, and Judo. Sport clubs include: ice hockey, soccer, table tennis, Collegiate wrestling, and baseball. The ice hockey team has a rivalry with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University from Daytona Beach, Florida. The Florida Tech ice hockey program is a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, playing at that organization's Division 3 level.
Florida Tech has a number of Greek life opportunities for students. Fraternities include: Alpha Tau Omega, Lambda Chi Alpha, Chi Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Lambda Phi, Sigma Tau Gamma and Tau Kappa Epsilon. Sororities on campus include: Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, and Phi Sigma Sigma. Florida Tech also has the Alpha Gamma Rho Chapter of the Nation's Largest Service Fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. A co-ed fraternal organization known as Squamish also exists on campus.
The university offers a number of national and international Honor Societies including: Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, Chi Epsilon – Civil Engineering Students honor society, Delta Mu Delta business honor society, Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society for freshman class academic achievement, Phi Kappa Phi general academic honor society, Psi Chi honor society of psychology, Tau Beta Pi national engineering honor society, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon computing and information systems honor society.