The Emergent Technologies Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University: An Initial Solar Energy Focus
Construction began in March 2015 on a $12.5 M “Emergent Technologies Institute” (ETI) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers, Florida. The ETI will be a 25,000 ft2 (2,322 m2) LEED Silver facility comprised of research laboratories, high bay areas, a machine shop, student project spaces, classrooms, computer labs, an auditorium and an office suite for faculty, students and staff. The facility will include a fully instrumented, 2.5 acre solar field for photovoltaic technology testing, and residual electrical power generated will be integrated into the building’s energy management system. The ETI will support applied research, development and demonstration, graduate education, and outreach activities to the general public and industry participants. The ETI will accommodate the launch of a new MS in Engineering program (including a major in renewable energy engineering) for the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering, along with intramural and extramural interdisciplinary collaborations. Initial research, development and demonstration foci will be in the areas of photovoltaic solar energy applications in the building, transportation and agricultural sectors, as well as solar desalinization and energy storage technologies. This paper describes the ETI facility, current ETI research initiatives, and future areas of emphasis for this unique facility in Southwest Florida.