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$75K Contribution from Duke Energy Florida Helps Build Future Leaders of Engineering and Computer Science

The funds will be used towards priority areas in UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, such as the Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2) and Senior Design Boot Camps.
By: Kimberly J. Lewis | May 9, 2022
A team of UCF engineering students showcase their Senior Design project after spending their senior year collaboratively designing, building and testing it within a limited timeline and budget, a process supported by Duke Energy Florida that builds leadership skills essential in industry.

A $75,000 donation to UCF from Duke Energy Florida will provide critical resources to support the transformation of engineering and computer science students into professionals and future leaders in their fields.

The funds will be used towards priority areas in the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science, specifically in programs designed to build leadership skills in students, including UCF’s Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2), and UCF’s Senior Design Boot Camps — training workshops for teams enrolled in the Senior Design capstone course — a requirement for graduating seniors.

The donation adds to a previous $75,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science projects, including the Girls Excelling in Math and Science mentorship program, Senior Design, and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

“At UCF, while our engineering and computer science students are learning the core technical aspects of their disciplines, they are simultaneously learning important ‘soft skills’ and leadership qualities that are critically important in the workplace,” says Michael Georgiopoulos, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “The years of support from Duke Energy help make UCF’s leadership-building programs possible. We are extremely grateful for their gift.”

The gift adds to the longstanding relationship between Duke Energy Florida, the Duke Energy Foundation and UCF. Over the years, Duke Energy and its foundation have given more than $5 million to support UCF programs that have benefitted thousands of students. In addition, the Duke Energy Welcome Center at UCF serves as a high-visibility information portal about the university designed to attract prospective students to UCF.

“For more than a decade, Duke Energy, its legacy companies and its foundation have invested in the University of Central Florida and its Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute,” says Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “There is an immense need for engineering and computer technology leaders across the board, and we are honored to be able to support this program and continue transforming students into the skilled professionals and leaders needed in Florida and beyond.”

With financial support from Duke Energy (then Progress Energy), the Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2) at UCF was born in 2010, a program that has provided leadership skills-building opportunities for thousands of engineering and computer science students.

Opportunities include hands-on workshops and “Leaders Up Close” seminars, classes to earn an Engineering Leadership Minor or Certificate, the eli2 maker spaces on campus designed to enhance creativity and collaboration, Senior Design Boot Camps that help student teams with their projects; and other programs specifically focused on enhancing student creativity, innovation, collaboration and accountability.

“Duke Energy championed students’ leadership development from the very beginning of eli2,” says Tim Kotnour, a professor in UCF’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems and director of UCF’s Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute. “What started out as initial support of 31 students 15 years ago has burgeoned into a college-wide culture of student leadership engagement that has impacted the education and professional development of more than 20,000 students and alumni.”

Senior Design, a capstone course in the college, begins for students with Boot Camp, an all-day interactive session provided by eli2 for newly-formed senior design teams to bolster teamwork and project ideation. The eli2 Boot Camp is designed to help student teams collaboratively design their projects from start to finish, including budgeting, timelines, prototyping, testing and overcoming challenges to get their projects to the finish-line — the Senior Design showcase — where the projects are presented to a public audience and alumni judges.

In April, 917 graduating seniors participated in UCF’s Spring 2022 Senior Design virtual and live showcase, featuring 185 projects designed by collaborative teams of graduating seniors in engineering and computer science.

UCF is one of the nation’s largest producers of engineers and computer scientists, and is the nation’s top workforce supplier to numerous key industries, including aerospace, energy, utilities, financial technology (“fintech”), healthcare, and defense industries. UCF was named the nation’s No. 1 workforce supplier — and top preferred supplier — to the aerospace and defense industries by Aviation Week Network.