Florida Tech Economic Impact

The Space Coast has been forever changed.

Nestled in the heart of Melbourne is a growing giant in its field, one that any community would be proud to have in its borders. This organization employs 792 people at its home base in Brevard County. It attracts over 3,000 full and part-time residents to Melbourne each year. Its economic impact countywide is $360 million annually. Of this, $17 million comes directly from students living off-campus. Many of its employees are national leaders in their fields. It has been a silent partner in the community's economic growth and in the growth of high-tech industry on the Space Coast for the past 45 years.

It does all this, and it doesn't pollute.

It is, to coin a phrase, a chamber of commerce's dream.

What is this mystery organization?

The Florida Institute of Technology.

Florida Tech's history pre-dates even that of NASA. The university's founder, Dr. Jerome P. Keuper, created Florida Tech when he saw a need for more master's and Ph.D.-level scientists at Cape Canaveral. Keuper worked for RCA, and was one of many pioneers behind the scenes in America's Cold War-era race for space. He translated the entrepreneurial spirit found abundantly at the Cape into a drive to build one of the world's best science and engineering universities. He succeeded in building his dream, starting with a first donation of 37 cents.

Today, Florida Tech still embodies the spirit of its founder. In addition to its own employees, former faculty and graduates are an important part of the high-tech landscape in Brevard County. Several Space Coast companies, including Artemis, began in Florida Tech dorm rooms. The new Florida Tech Start business accelerator will only increase the university's role in creating and guiding Space Coast entrepreneurs. Through this accelerator, we will ensure that Keuper's spirit remains an important part of our future.

Florida Tech is dedicated to sustainable growth in its student population. This fall, the university's student body grew by four percent, with more than 3,100 undergraduate and graduate students in Melbourne and nearly 5,000 students when those enrolled in our School of Extended Graduate Studies are included. Of these Melbourne students, more than 2,000 live off-campus, and each off-campus student spends an average of $8,200 per year on food, housing and other living expenses, or more than $16 million in total.

We will not sacrifice quality for growth, however. This year's freshman class has an average high school G.P.A. of 3.5, and an average S.A.T. score of 1159, more than 130 points higher than the national average.

Florida Tech's economic impact reaches beyond business development or our own students. Over the past five years, the campus has undergone a bricks and mortar renaissance, with the construction of the F.W. Olin Engineering Complex, the F.W. Olin Life Sciences Building, the Charles and Ruth Clemente Center for Sports and Recreation, and the Columbia Village residence hall complex.

Now, we are building the $14 million F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building. For every million dollars spent in construction, $1.6 million is poured into the local economy, along with 22 jobs. In the case of the physical sciences building, that equates to a $22.4 million boon to the Space Coast economy and the creation of more than 300 jobs.

Our renaissance will not end with the physical sciences building. We will continue to be aggressive in building a campus reflective of our founding spirit, one that is well equipped to ensure Florida Tech has the facilities needed to become one of the best high-tech universities in the world.

Finally, Florida Tech makes difference in the nation's perception of the Space Coast. Members of our faculty are globally recognized for their expertise in a wide variety of disciplines. Media from across the nation seek out our faculty for their research discoveries and expertise. They comprise an intellectual resource that must not be overlooked.

Florida Tech's impact on the Space Coast will continue to be felt for generations to come. What began 45 years ago with a dream and 37 cents has become a world-renown high-tech university. And the best is yet to be.