In spring 2020, construction will begin in the Olin Quad on Florida Tech’s new Health Sciences Research Center, an $18 million facility to host growing biomedical engineering and premedical programs.
Along with classrooms and labs for the biomedical engineering and pre-med programs, the 61,000-square-foot building will house a design center, two lecture halls, study lounges, graduate student work space, and a café, according to facilities operations.
The center will also host augmented and virtual reality tools, providing access to simulations like virtual dissection tables, according to the Florida Tech Newsroom.
Brett Twery, a senior from Orlando majoring in biomedical engineering, describes hearing the news of the new research building as “bittersweet.”
“I’m glad to see that there is progress within my program towards bettering opportunities for biomedical engineers, however it’s unfortunate that I will graduate by the time that the project is completed.” Twery said.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2022, according to FLORIDA TODAY.
The Newsroom reported that the undergraduate biomedical engineering program will double in size to 300 students with the new facility, and the undergraduate pre-med program will increase enrollment by 100 students for a total of 250.
The anticipated increase in enrollment of between 250 and 350 students will not surpass previous high enrollment levels, according to facilities operations.
The field of biomedical engineering is expected to grow similarly to other occupations, by four percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a median yearly pay in 2018 of $88,550.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the top-paid 25 percent of biomedical engineers made $114,930 in 2018, with the lowest-paid 25 percent making $67,830.
Specializations in the field include genetic engineering, biomedical electronics, and medical imaging. Genetic engineering uses biotechnology to directly alter the genetic makeup of an organism, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Medical imaging includes commonplace diagnostic tools such as MRI and ultrasound.
Facilities operations said in an emailed response that Florida Tech “seized the opportunity to refinance debt at historically low rates” which they say provided funds for center.
According to the Florida Tech Newsroom, the facility will be funded by the sale of educational facilities revenue bonds.
A revenue bond is a municipal bond backed by revenue that is generated by a certain project, facility, or other entity. The revenue from the project is used to repay investors, according to personal finance and business website The Balance.
This method of funding differs from other types of bonds, as the repayment comes solely from revenue, not from tax.
While some students like Twery may graduate before the building is completed, future students enrolled in biomedical and pre-med programs will have access to a multi-million dollar building centered around the technology and research of the two growing fields.