Learning Outside the Classroom

At Florida Tech, learning is not bounded by a classroom. The education that happens in the “real world” is what gives our students the skills and expertise to practice their theoretical knowledge. That’s why active learning is part of the Florida Tech experience for all students, no matter their field of study.

Where might a Florida Tech education take you? …

To Mars [kind of …]

Ever wanted to know what it would be like to live on Mars? Students in Florida Tech’s Astrobiological Research and Education Society (ARES) can fill you in.

ARES, a student-run organization that focuses on astrobiological and space science research, has proudly visited the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) on multiple occasions. The MDRS, owned and operated by the Mars Society, is a space analog facility in Utah that facilitates professional scientists, engineers and college students in their pursuit of research in human space exploration.

“It is such a unique opportunity. You get to learn a lot about not just science, but about yourself and how you work with others in such an inexperienced environment,” says Ruth Nichols, ARES secretary and recent MDRS health and safety officer. “It’s an incomparable experience.”

Florida Tech students serving on Mars Desert Research Station Crew 219 trek through snow in the space analog facility.

Into the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean

From protecting the thousands of species that call the Indian River Lagoon home to using surfboards to better understand how weather systems interact with coastlines, Florida Tech students are at the center of marine and oceanographic research. And for faculty, the skills and knowledge gained from their students actively participating in research are most valued. In the water, on a research vessel or on a surfboard, the lesson is in the doing.

“That kind of experience is going to potentially be more powerful than 100 lectures,” says Dr. Toby Daly-Engel, ocean engineering and marine sciences assistant professor.

Indian River Lagoon Research Florida Tech
Student conducts research in the Indian River Lagoon.


Studying abroad with Florida Tech is an experience like no other. Not limited by major or academic level, Florida Tech students have the opportunity to travel and gain international experience, immerse themselves in different cultures, make professional connections and, perhaps, even discover their future homes.

“This is the best learning experience they will ever have because they’re living what they’re learning,” says Heather L. Wautlet, study abroad program director. “Students have gone on to do their master’s and Ph.D.s in places like the Netherlands and Italy, and they realize that there is more to the world than the U.S. and Florida.”

Some previous study abroad destinations: Spain, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Italy, the Galápagos Islands, Peru, Brazil, Ireland, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, China, Australia, Norway, Belgium, Hungary, Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba and more.

Study Abroad students in Iceland
Netherlands Study Abroad students visit multiple countries, including Iceland, on their two week tour.

Into the ‘Real World’

Drawing closer to the end of their Florida Tech undergraduate careers, virtually all students complete a hands-on, project-based capstone course before graduation. Produce a documentary or develop a strategic plan for a local business in the School of Arts and Communication; launch a startup in the Bisk College of Business; work with children at The Scott Center for Autism Treatment in the School of Psychology; and so much more.

Perhaps most well-known is the senior design program, through which College of Engineering and Science seniors complete yearlong projects—often working with mentors from major organizations like NASA, L3Harris Technologies Inc., the U.S. Navy, Sun Nuclear, Embraer and many more—and present them to industry professionals (and potential employers!) from across the country at the annual Northrop Grumman Engineering and Science Student Design Showcase.

“We bridge the gap—we get the theoretical knowledge from the classroom, and then we merge that with the ability to build, construct, design and test, which prepares them for pretty much every challenge out there,” says Juan Avendano Arbelaez, director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design.

Mechanical engineering students in the L3Harris Student Design Center working on their Sun Nuclear Water Pumping Reservoir project for the showcase.

Across the Globe

The X-Culture project is an important component of the International Business course.

Over eight weeks, Florida Tech students work on global virtual teams with students from various foreign universities. In 2021, over 5,000 students from 120 universities participated, assisting companies in figuring out how to expand their brands and services outside of the U.S. or their home base to an international audience.

“They’ve got time zone differences, interpersonal differences, and they have to find a way to come together over that eight-week period to produce a report. … This is as close to real life as we can get,” says Tim Muth, Nathan M. Bisk College of Business instructor and X-Culture facilitator. “Rather than me talking about the challenges of dealing internationally, they are experiencing it right now.”

Bisk College of Business instructor Tim Muth (front left) with students at the 2019 X-Culture Global Symposium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Bisk College of Business instructor Tim Muth (front left) with students at the 2019 X-Culture Global Symposium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Thumbnail of 2022 The Pursuit magazine's cover featuring six students on computers in the Esports Center

This piece appeared in the 2022 edition of Florida Tech’s prospective-student magazine, The Pursuit.

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