Jacksonville University’s “Collaborate JU” uses project-based learning to prepare students for careers in engineering, science, business, and more.
Founded in 1934, Jacksonville University is a premier private institution located in northeast Florida.
Getting a taste of real-world career experience by working on multidisciplinary teams to solve problems is at the heart of Collaborate JU, a program developed through Jacksonville University’s Entrepreneurism, Policy, Innovation, and Commerce (EPIC) initiative. Collaborate JU is all about developing students who will be highly qualified upon graduation and ready to work in the sought-after fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), plus health sciences, global trade, aviation, business analytics, and sustainability—fields with the potential to bring a high number of jobs and businesses to Florida.
The benefits of Collaborate JU to students include becoming conversant in multiple disciplines, gaining a greater understanding of their majors, expanding career options, appreciating the value of diverse perspectives, developing leadership and project management abilities, and networking with industry experts, according to Terri Davlantes, Executive Director of EPIC. “This program is focused on specialized fields that create job opportunities, improve the quality of the workforce in our region, and attract talented students from around the world to study, live, and work in Florida,” she said.
Using the operating and capital funding provided by Florida’s Legislature in 2014, Jacksonville University has already made additions to its programs and enhancements to its facilities.
• Adding 21 programs and degrees in areas identified by employers as those in highest demand, such as in health sciences, with five Master of Science in Nursing degrees, three Doctor of Nurse Practitioner programs, and a Bachelor of Science degree; in business, with two bachelor’s degrees, two new concentrations in the Davis College of Business’ M.B.A. degree program, and a new concentration in marketing at the undergraduate level; and in science and engineering, with two new bachelor’s degrees in engineering and one in computing science
• More than $2 million in cutting-edge new laboratories, either built or existing ones refreshed, in health sciences, and science and engineering
• Creation and enhancement of interdisciplinary learning spaces throughout campus, investing more than $1 million, as well as building a high-tech broadcast media studio
• New business partnerships with other universities, local and state business interests, government and nonprofit organizations, venture capitalists, and the military
• More than $6.5 million in substantial upgrades of campus infrastructure for accelerated programming, with investment in new key personnel, capital projects, updated software, and economic impact studies
“This new program is helping establish JU as a recognized leader in trans-disciplinary education,” said JU President Tim Cost. “All of our efforts are focused on one thing: investing in a 21st-century workforce.”
COLLABORATE JU RESEARCH PROJECTS
At the heart of Collaborate JU are the research projects that bring together various campus stakeholders and provide opportunities for hands-on learning and valuable research.
Here’s an example of some of the projects launched this year:
Assessment of Athletes: The emerging discipline of Kinesiology focuses on optimizing human movement, performance, health, and wellness. Students, professors, and coaches from Kinesiology, Engineering, and Athletics are drawing upon this new discipline to conduct biomechanical analyses of athletes in order to improve performance and minimize the risk of injury.
Reef Restoration: A Jacksonville University team of Marine Science, Mathematics, and Geography students and professors are studying the impact coral-eating fish and algae have upon coral reef health in the Florida Keys, and they are determining if the positioning of coral transplants in the ocean floor affects their ability to survive. Through the team’s combined efforts, JU anticipates improving coral reef restoration efforts, thereby benefitting Florida’s ecology and economy.
Water Quality Monitoring: A cost-effective method of creating a database of water quality indicators in Northeast Florida is desired. Marine Science Research Institute (MSRI), Engineering, and Geography and the Environment will collaborate to build and deploy the waterproof monitors. Using this database, MSRI will make recommendations to governmental and private entities about ways to improve the water quality in the St. Johns River and other regional aquatic ecosystems.
Oyster Reef Assessment: Harvesting of oysters in Northeast Florida was halted when the monitoring stations used to assess the health of the beds were discontinued over 15 years ago. There is growing interest in reopening the beds to commercial and recreational harvesting. Students and professors from the Marine Science Research Institute, the School of Aviation, and Geography and the Environment are collaborating to develop a cost-effective method of monitoring the health of oyster reefs in Duval County.