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Education that amazes. Education that makes a difference. Education that opens doors.

The byproduct of education that does all of those things, and more, filled the Clemente Center on April 6. It’s called the Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase, but like the descriptions of some of the included projects – a robotic prosthetic hand, an indoor farm powered by artificial intelligence, a police drone – the event was really about so much more than those words may indicate.

It was about how a Florida Tech education emanates from the classroom but is certainly not contained there.

It was about how a Florida Tech education involves theories and principles and academic exercises but also teaches about teamwork and problem-solving and how to contribute – and succeed – in the workplace.

And it was about making and strengthening the connections integral to that success beyond campus, highlighted by our University-Corporation Alliance for Success and the cadre of judges from industry who generously donate their time and expertise to the showcase year after year.

The students notice and understand all of this, and appreciate it.

“I am looking forward to the future in which I get to apply these skills via the direct connections with the industries I dreamed of working for that my participation in this project helped create,” said Ashton Tassinari, a senior mechanical engineering major who led her team in the Formula SAE car project for last year’s showcase and is now leading the team creating an electric version of that car.

As we have seen time and again, project-based learning through student design gives our students experience that not only helps them gain a better understanding of their chosen field but also helps them acquire highly sought-after workplace skills like collaboration, communication and problem solving.

Ashton may have put it best. The showcase, she said, “has made me a better engineer because I am a stronger teammate and leader, has improved my communication skills immensely, taught me hands-on manufacturing skills, and improved my ability to understand theory in a practical way.”

Florida Tech knows the power and impact of unleashing education, of taking it to the labs and oceans, the rockets and cockpits that will be so critical to our future.

Judging by what I saw at the Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase, the benefits to students are clear. And as our seniors crossed the stage during spring commencement in May, soon workplaces around the world will know those benefits, too.

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