Gulf Coast Grant to Foster More Local Engineering Talent

Funding doubles number of stipends available for UF engineering students who intern in Sarasota County

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has awarded a $61,500 grant to the University of Florida Foundation to continue Gulf Coast support for the UF Innovation Station Sarasota County, the first UF engineering extension office. With funds from the Gulf Coast grant, the Innovation Station is providing stipends to selected Gator Engineering students to help them succeed in internships and work/study programs with local industry partners in the Sarasota area.

Gulf Coast has collaborated with UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering through the Innovation Station since its inception, with the end goal of increasing the base of engineers and innovators who call Sarasota home. 

During summer 2018, the Innovation Station placed 38 engineering students from UF and the Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program at 27 companies in the Sarasota region. Thanks to a previous Gulf Coast Community Foundation grant, the Innovation Station was able to award stipends to 10 of those students, who used them toward expenses for lodging, travel, and food during their internships. They also saved some of the money toward tuition for the 2018-2019 school year.

Doubling down on student talent

Based on that success and feedback from the students and the participating companies at which they interned, UF requested expanding to 20 student stipends in 2019 with Gulf Coast’s support. The new grant will enable the program to award $3,000 stipends to 20 students. 

“[This] internship has helped solidify my choice of computer engineering and has helped get me more excited for my future as an engineer,” said Ben Pepper, one of the Gator Engineering @ SCF students, who interned at DTC Engineering last summer.

Shay Atluru, CEO/President of DTC, wasn’t sure what he could expect from the internship program, but according to an interview in the SCF Foundation magazine, “working with Benjamin Pepper proved the program is delivering what it promised.” 

"He's not...making copies; he's doing highly technical things"

“I saw an opportunity to get young, smart minds in engineering,” continued Atluru. “Engineers are in short supply throughout the world. I could have 10 more 'Bens' here working in paid internships. He’s not getting coffee or making copies; he’s doing highly technical things, including drafting and design work.”

Ben Pepper at DTC

“The aim of this program is to encourage talented students to stay in the region and help grow the local economy,” said Allen Carlson, regional director of the UF Innovation Station Sarasota County. “UF's presence as a resource for industry in the region has grown as a result of our collaboration, and we anticipate continued engagement with businesses moving forward.”


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