MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech on Friday broke ground on its Health Sciences Research Center, an $18 million structure to be filled with cutting-edge equipment, labs and learning spaces centered on biomedical engineering and sciences that will supercharge the university’s efforts to meet the expected surge in those fields in the coming years.
“Florida Tech has long been home to those who not only ‘dream,’ but those who ‘do,’” President Dwayne McCay said. “Our world needs both. We honor our commitment to the future with the addition of this important facility.”
The three-story, brick-clad building on the university’s south campus Olin Quad will offer more than 61,000-square-feet of space, with more than a third of that – 22,300 square feet – dedicated to labs, classrooms and training space. Construction is scheduled to be complete no later than December 2021.
The building will feature stunning architectural and design elements, including an open, three-story atrium; glass walls throughout to enhance the open feel and engagement of users; an open courtyard; and a café study lounge with coffee, grab-n-go foods and outdoor covered seating.
Key features within the center are expected to include state-of-the-art teaching laboratories in human anatomy, augmented and virtual reality teaching tools, and facilities for orthopedics, tissue studies and advanced computational simulations. Specialty equipment scheduled for use includes an array of cutting-edge devices, such as Raman microscope/spectrometer, virtual dissection tables, tissue fatigue testing machine, and high-performance modeling and simulation software.
The center will allow Florida Tech to double the size of the undergraduate biomedical engineering program to 300 full-time, on-campus students, and increase the size of the undergraduate premedical program from 150 to 250 full-time, on-campus students.
“Our university has evolved by offering training in high-demand fields that provide rewarding, well-paid careers for our students, and we are continuing to invest and grow in high-potential areas,” said Rob Phebus, chairman of the Florida Tech Board of Trustees. “The state-of-the-art facility we broke ground on today will greatly enhance our educational offerings in bio-medical engineering, pre-med and health science research.”
This critical growth will help fill the expected gap in key biomedical engineering and premedical science fields in the coming years.
Increasing numbers of technologies and applications to medical equipment and devices, along with the medical needs of a growing and aging population, will require the services of a growing number of biomedical engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found, noting that employment of biomedical engineers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029 – faster than the average for all occupations.
With the premedical biomedical sciences program, the center can help Florida Tech respond to a massive expected shortage of doctors. The Association of American Medical Colleges reported in June that that the United States will face a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033 as current physicians retire and the number of older patients grows.
“Overall,” McCay said, “the new facility will enhance Florida Tech’s capacity for education, research, social engagement and campus beautification.”