Integrating Academia & Industry with University of West Florida’s Sea3D Lab

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Martha Saunders, President at University of West Florida joined the podcast to talk university-industry partnerships and their Sea3D lab’s missional pivot during COVID.

We are part of this community and we want to convert what we know how to do to benefit the community. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Martha Saunders, presidents at University of West Florida. President Saunders, welcome to the show. Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Really excited to talk with you today about innovative ways to integrate academia and industry, specifically with your C D lab. Before we dig into that, can...

...you give the listeners a little bit of background on both yourself and University of West Florida? With sure, the University of West Florida is one of the twelve universities in the State University System of Florida. We are located in Pensacola, Florida, which is the westernmost city in Florida, right on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, I always have to say, with the most beautiful beaches in the world. Our mayor calls us the western gate to the Sunshine State, and so that it kind of puts US geographically. We just fun fact we are the only university in Florida that's on central time. Okay, Florida, that the central time of the zone goes almost from where we are to Tallahassee. So that always adds to the fun when we're having statewide meetings. Our universities about fifty three years old. We are a comprehensive university but with...

...strong, strong science programs, very strong cyber security programs and I think well, we've been recognized for our innovation as well. So yeah, I'm proud of the work that we do. We have thirteenzero students and a tremendous amount of agility for university. Yeah, I have been president here. I'm going to let me think a minute too. Thousand Sifteen and this is my third presidency. My first one was at University of Wisconsin Whitewater and then my alma mater called and I went to the University of Southern Mississippi as president there and thought I had retired and we had kept a beach house here and we thought great, we're going to retire, and then I got a call if I could come and help them out at you WF. And this is so here.

I am back since two thousand and twelve so and so this is a labor of love for me. I got my start at U Wlf as a faculty member, worked up the ranks and had some wonderful opportunities and when I was a dean here I was given the opportunity to go on a grand professional adventure that led to the other presidencies, and so the work I'm doing here is really meaningful to me. We do a lot of good for a lot of students in a relatively rural part of Florida. They're lucky to have you. You are doing amazing work and I appreciate the institutional background because it's so relevant to this conversation today. To kick us off, could you give us a high level overview of your CD lab? Well, the the C D lab. It's an additive manufacturing laboratory and it serves as a hub for multidisciplinary...

...research innovation and discovery in in the high demand field of additive manufacturing. We have located it, I mean here is the the coolest tipist, smartest stuff there you know that we're doing and it is in our historic district, you know, nestled in to the Museum of Commerce, and it's just great fun to go there because you walk and you see all of the industrial see the museum exhibits with all of the industrial changes over, you know, hundreds of years. And then there's the C D lab. Let's talk goals and who the lab is designed to serve. When you build such an ambitious lab like this, very aligned to your strategic plan in support of community and economic engagement, what are your students goals? What educational and Career Readiness Goals do you...

...hope the lab can serve? Well, we're looking for true collaboration. I think it's interesting to note that some of the early lab directors we had an engineering student and an art student, and so we you know, we see a wonderful merger of science and Technology and Engineering and art and math there. So we see an awful lot of collaboration as well for our students and then also for the community and the faculty. They you know, they're able to come in and use the lab, tests some of their ideas, build prototypes, and people in the community do the same thing. We do everything from helping them develop prototypes for, you know, new ideas, new instruments, to a replicating parts of machines that they can't find anymore. So it's sort of a full service C D lab. It's such an amazing resource for your...

...students. And then how about from industries vantage point? How do you hope local employers see you and the lab and can add value to the lab as well as benefiting from it? Well, we certainly hope they see us as the resource that we are. You know, we're part of this community and we want to convert what we know how to do to benefit the community. But also, you know, we get these you know, the local industries come in and our students get hand zone experience of faculty are able to conduct research as well, and so we have a number of local businesses that come in and it's just fascinating. I you know, I get excited. It's just to watch they get into that lab and something magical happens. They they start messing about with you know, with the equipment and new ideas get generated.

Then that's that's essential education. It is indeed. Can you also talk about your lab's recent pivot during covid you have this amazing D print lab. There is an amazingly high need for Covid PPE right now. Talk about what you, and you know you have decided to do to help. Well, they got busy and in March, when you know, we all essentially just went home and everything changed regarding covid. The team at the C D lab started manufacturing full face shields for healthcare workers and we are still doing them. And they were working seven days a week producing these free of charge for local healthcare workers. And the funding to do that came from several grants from the like Gulf power. Local businesses gave us the money for the materials and we're...

...still doing it and there's still in need and I'm happy to be able to do our part. It's an amazing story. We are grateful that you are. How has this CD lab model influenced how you we think about university industry partnerships and what they can be and what you might want to create next as our strategic plan evolves. One of the things that we have found as an opportunity for us, but also very important, is to leverage regional strengths and regional resources with what we do. And so, you know, the model of the lab is okay, we have engineers and all kinds of faculty who do all kinds of things, we have students who are learning and who are creative and then, you know, industry can come in and and, I guess, maybe give us the practical sense of all right, and here's what's...

...needed, boys and girls, and we've been we put our heads together and that's what is supposed to happen, that is, providing real on the ground products that serve an industry. And then, of course, our students get the great experience and then the local industries very likely are going to invite our students to stay and work with them. So everybody's well served with that and it kind of something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Yeah, and I think that's the magic, that is the magic win win that we are are all looking for. It's thanks so much for your thoughts. to Dr Saunders, any next steps advice for universities looking to establish relationships and partnerships with local industry like you have in a way that best serves their students. Where should they start? I think many schools, most of us,...

...have advisory groups the various colleges and academic programs. Not First advice is really listen to them. You know, we sometimes universities don't always move real fast and and knowledge is more evolutionary than revolutionary sometimes. But we have I think we're very lucky that we have industrial partners, we have advisors that come in and say hey, you know, you your graduates need to know how to do more of this and maybe not so much of that, and if we tune in and listen and and respond in an agile way, then I think that's key. Listen first. I love that. That last advice President Saunders, thank you so much of your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? Well, they can go to UWF DOT EDU and there's a president's page there and that's...

...the most direct route. Also on twitter, Dr M Days Saunders, and Instagram, Dr m D Saunders as well. I think that is the first time that a president has volunteered their instagram information. So even though you thought this was your last stop. I'm glad you are paving new ways for highered for presidencies and for you w have specifically. Thanks so much for joining us today. President Saunders, it's my great pleasure have a great weekend. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash...

...playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (264)