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 andwe 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 podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whetheryou're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you'vecome to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back toenrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'mEric Olsen with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Martha Saunders, presidentsat University of West Florida. President Saunders, welcome to the show. Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Really excited to talk with you todayabout 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 bitof background on both yourself and University of West Florida? With sure, theUniversity of West Florida is one of the twelve universities in the State University Systemof Florida. We are located in Pensacola, Florida, which is the westernmost cityin Florida, right on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, I always haveto say, with the most beautiful beaches in the world. Our mayor callsus the western gate to the Sunshine State, and so that it kind of putsUS geographically. We just fun fact we are the only university in Floridathat's on central time. Okay, Florida, that the central time of the zonegoes almost from where we are to Tallahassee. So that always adds tothe 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, verystrong cyber security programs and I think well, we've been recognized for our innovation aswell. 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 atUniversity of Wisconsin Whitewater and then my alma mater called and I went to theUniversity of Southern Mississippi as president there and thought I had retired and we hadkept 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 atyou WF. And this is so here.

I am back since two thousand andtwelve so and so this is a labor of love for me. Igot my start at U Wlf as a faculty member, worked up the ranksand had some wonderful opportunities and when I was a dean here I was giventhe 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. Wedo a lot of good for a lot of students in a relatively rural partof Florida. They're lucky to have you. You are doing amazing work and Iappreciate the institutional background because it's so relevant to this conversation today. Tokick us off, could you give us a high level overview of your CDlab? Well, the the C D lab. It's an additive manufacturing laboratoryand it serves as a hub for multidisciplinary...

...research innovation and discovery in in thehigh demand field of additive manufacturing. We have located it, I mean hereis the the coolest tipist, smartest stuff there you know that we're doing andit is in our historic district, you know, nestled in to the Museumof Commerce, and it's just great fun to go there because you walk andyou see all of the industrial see the museum exhibits with all of the industrialchanges over, you know, hundreds of years. And then there's the CD 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 strategicplan in support of community and economic engagement, what are your students goals? Whateducational 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 someof 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 Technologyand Engineering and art and math there. So we see an awful lot ofcollaboration 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 thesame thing. We do everything from helping them develop prototypes for, youknow, new ideas, new instruments, to a replicating parts of machines thatthey 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 fromindustries vantage point? How do you hope local employers see you and the laband 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. Youknow, we're part of this community and we want to convert what we knowhow to do to benefit the community. But also, you know, weget these you know, the local industries come in and our students get handzone experience of faculty are able to conduct research as well, and so wehave a number of local businesses that come in and it's just fascinating. Iyou know, I get excited. It's just to watch they get into thatlab 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. Itis indeed. Can you also talk about your lab's recent pivot during covidyou have this amazing D print lab. There is an amazingly high need forCovid PPE right now. Talk about what you, and you know you havedecided 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 healthcareworkers and we are still doing them. And they were working seven days aweek producing these free of charge for local healthcare workers. And the funding todo that came from several grants from the like Gulf power. Local businesses gaveus the money for the materials and we're...

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

...needed, boys and girls, andwe'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. Andthen, of course, our students get the great experience and then the localindustries 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 greaterthan 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 stepsadvice for universities looking to establish relationships and partnerships with local industry like you havein a way that best serves their students. Where should they start? I thinkmany schools, most of us,...

...have advisory groups the various colleges andacademic 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 thanrevolutionary sometimes. But we have I think we're very lucky that we have industrialpartners, 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 notso much of that, and if we tune in and listen and and respondin an agile way, then I think that's key. Listen first. Ilove that. That last advice President Saunders, thank you so much of your timetoday. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if theyhave any follow up questions? Well, they can go to UWF DOT EDUand there's a president's page there and that's...

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

...playbook. You've been listening to enrollmentgrowth 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 somuch for listening. Until next time,.

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