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FGCU Announces Major Gift to Establish School of Engineering; Student Admission to Begin in 2005-06
7/7/2004

FORT MYERS, FL - Today, Florida Gulf Coast University announced the launch of an engineering degree program this fall made possible by a strategic $5 million gift from The Whitaker Foundation to construct a facility to house the key academic program.

The School of Engineering building will be a state-of-the-art 50,000 square-foot facility for studying bioengineering, engineering management, and civil and environmental engineering. The School of Engineering will initially reside in the College of Business and will become a College of Engineering after an incubation period.

FGCU plans to hire a program director and three lead faculty members this fall, break ground for the new facility possibly by late 2005 and begin admitting freshmen in time for the 2005-06 academic year during which five additional faculty members will be recruited. Degree enrollment is expected to reach 300 by 2010.

Dean of the College of Business Richard Pegnetter assembled some of the nation's leading experts in engineering to explore which academic areas of engineering would most benefit the community of Southwest Florida. The three areas chosen are a natural fit to FGCU's existing degree programs.

"Narrowing down the range of areas of the civil engineering curriculum and including an emphasis on environmental engineering was seen as within our capabilities and budget plans. A large number of engineering schools link environmental and civil engineering within their department structure," Pegnetter said.

"Further, the business community advised us that civil engineering, specifically focused on the needs of Southwest Florida, is one of the most valuable engineering majors we could have in the new School of Engineering."

FGCU will seek accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology after students enrolled in the first class graduate - a requirement that a program must meet prior to seeking accreditation from ABET, the national gold standard for engineering programs.

Long-range plans from before FGCU opened in 1997 indicated a need for a School of Engineering in Southwest Florida. The report by MGT of America said the increasing need for growth management and municipal planners throughout the region spurs the need for additional civil engineers.

The School of Engineering will add a needed component to the development of a technological and research infrastructure in Southwest Florida, and contribute to and diversify the continued economic growth in the region.

FGCU is asking the state of Florida to match the gift dollar-for-dollar from the Alec P. Courtelis Facility Matching Program to bring the total for construction to $10 million. The University plans to build the School of Engineering building near the Whitaker Hall for Math, Science and Technology Education, which opened in April 2001.

For more information, contact director of Advancement Linda Lehtomaa at (239) 590-1071.

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