A recent workforce development grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to the University of Central Florida will fund a variety of diversity and academic programs, and adds to the more than $4,066,000 million that the company has given to UCF since 1999.

The grant supports numerous programs, including UCF’s nationally-renowned STEM retention programs that offer mentoring and peer-support to students; diversity and inclusion programs; UCF’s Engineering Leadership & Innovation Institute; and Senior Design, a required capstone course for the hundreds of senior-level undergraduate students in UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“Duke Energy is one of our strongest industry supporters. They have consistently given to UCF for decades, helping thousands of students pursue STEM degrees and prepare for jobs in engineering and technology fields,” said Michael Georgiopoulos, dean. “We sincerely thank Duke Energy for helping us create a stronger engineering and computer science workforce.”

“We’re proud to continue our support of UCF’s engineering programs and hire UCF graduates,” said Kari Conley, Duke Energy Florida government and community relations manager. “Developing a talented local workforce benefits the state, our company and the entire energy industry. Our continuous grant support demonstrates the merit of UCF’s programs as well as our commitment to the future of our communities by empowering a skilled workforce to meet needs in high-demand fields.”

This year, more than 700 engineering and computer science students will graduate after they demonstrate their technical knowledge, professional skills and job-readiness in the Senior Design course. Students spend their entire senior year on multidisciplinary teams to ideate, test and build their senior design projects — everything from drones, rockets, satellites and sustainable energy solutions to innovative software programs and complex electrical and sensor designs and concepts. The year culminates with a massive showcase of about 100 projects that demonstrate students’ knowledge of core engineering and computer science concepts.

The showcase, presented by Duke Energy, allows students to demonstrate their projects to the general public, industry professionals, and alumni of the college who judge the projects’ technical merits and the students’ professionalism, presentation and communication skills.

“Senior design is one of the primary ways our students can prove that they are fully prepared for jobs, and it’s a great way for industry to recruit our graduates,” Georgiopoulos said.

This year’s Senior Design Showcase, presented by Duke Energy, will be Monday, Nov. 23.

The Duke Energy Welcome Center on UCF’s main campus illustrates the company’s strong connection to UCF, greeting thousands of campus visitors each year.