Classes start at Florida Gulf Coast University Thursday, and students walking the campus will see two major additions to the school that will play a huge role in the greater Southwest Florida community.
Busy students already fill the Maker Space inside the brand-new Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship.
“This changes the game for everything,” said graduate student Jakub Adamowicz.
Graduates like Adamowicz are behind products now on the market—like RoomDig, which helps students find housing, or a coral reef-safe sunscreen—but they’ve never had their own space to create until now. There are 3D printers and new computers, so students can design products or software in class.
“Not only if you have any kind of idea can you come here and seek help, but you can go right there and do it,” Adamowicz said.
In four years, Dr. Sandra Kauanui, now director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship, took the program from a minor to a major recognized by the Princeton Review before it became its own school.
“In order to see if you got a valid product that people want, you need to do that inexpensively to begin with,” Kauanui said.
Across campus, the four-story Water School is set to open January 2022. Executive director Greg Tolley explained its research labs have equipment to study red tide, algae and hurricanes, and the space will also be an aquarium.
“We have state-of-the-art research labs that will really help to take our research that benefits Southwest Florida to the next level,” Tolley said. “We’re going to be able to house marine and fresh water organisms to do studies.”
The Water School will offer classes from the freshman level all the way to graduate programs.