Eastern Florida State College has received $20.9 million in funding from the Florida Legislature for a pair of major new high-tech centers to train students for area industry.
State lawmakers approved $19.7 million for a Center for Innovative Technology Education (CITE) on the Melbourne Campus, and $1.2 million for an Aerospace Center of Excellence (ACE) on the Titusville Campus.
The funding was approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis in the state budget that he signed June 2.
Together, the facilities will further strengthen the college’s leading role in providing a pipeline of highly skilled employees to aerospace, defense and a range of other high-tech companies along the Space Coast.
“This is a significant step forward for our students and community that will provide excellent careers and spur local economic growth,” said EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey.
“The timing is perfect because high-tech firms are increasingly looking to EFSC to increase their ranks with the rapidly growing commercial space companies at Kennedy Space Center a prime example.
“We’re very grateful to state lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis for their foresight in funding the projects, knowing they will pay big dividends for decades to come.”
Richey also thanked Sen. Debbie Mayfield and Rep. Tyler Sirois for their efforts to secure funding for CITE, and Sen. Tom Wright, Rep. Rene Plasencia and Rep. Thad Altman for their work supporting ACE.
Here is a look at the two facilities and how they will benefit Brevard County.
Aerospace Center of Excellence (ACE)
ACE will provide a location to expand the college’s Aerospace Technology program to the Titusville Campus, which is ideally situated adjacent to Kennedy Space Center.
The program is based on the Cocoa Campus and will remain centered there, with Cocoa students often serving apprenticeships at KSC that lead to jobs immediately upon graduation.
With a bevy of new commercial space companies locating near Titusville, ACE will provide a much-needed training ground for North Brevard students and allow the Aerospace Technology two-year degree program to double in size.
“ACE is just what North Brevard companies are looking for because it can also draw students from nearby Orlando and Volusia County. That can vastly expand their talent pool,” said Richey.
The building will include four specialized labs in electronics, metal fabrication, fluids and composites. It will be housed in a repurposed gym that is now underutilized.
The facility is expected to open in 2023.
Center for Innovative Technology Education (CITE)
CITE is designed to meet the urgent need for more technical support staff for rapidly growing and changing industries.
The facility will feature labs that can be easily configured to provide students with the access to software used by high-tech employers.
The approach will bring together cutting-edge equipment, course work and students working in teams to simulate working environments and the best practices used by industry.
Importantly, training can be tailored to the specific needs of individual companies, giving them a go-to place to expand their workforce and provide continuing education for existing staffs.
It can also help start-ups get their footing as they begin building their technical teams.
“It’s a unique facility that will stand out in Central Florida for what it can accomplish in a host of fields,” said Richey.
In a sign of CITE’s importance, NASA and more than 50 companies wrote letters of support to the Legislature for the project.
They included Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Blue Origin, Northrup Grumman and OneWeb Satellites.
In all, CITE will support students in 16 college programs focused on aerospace, computer technology, engineering, and advanced manufacturing where students can earn Bachelor Degrees, Associate Degrees and College Certificates.
The 36,500-square-foot building will be located on the corner of Wickham Road and Post Road. It is expected to open its doors in 2024.
CITE will be the final new academic building to rise on the campus under the college’s 10-year expansion plan for Melbourne that was unveiled in 2014.
The other new buildings and the years they opened are the Public Safety Institute in 2014 and Health Sciences Institute in 2017. A new Student Union opened in 2019 and a new Student Residence hall in 2020, with construction about to begin on a second.
Eastern Florida State Colleges offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs on four campuses across Brevard County and through Eastern Florida Online. Visit easternflorida.edu to learn more.