Lakeland, Florida -- Florida Polytechnic University, the state's 12th college, is on the verge of its opening Aug. 25 after it was created during a controversial split with the University of South Florida. But, it has been heralded as Polk County's newest economic driver.
"This is the Innovation, Science Technology Building," says Crystal L. Lauderdale, director of marketing and communications at Florida Polytechnic University, during a tour of the landmark structure.
"It's neat to work in a building like that," says Scott Rhodes, executive director with enrollment services.
With construction taking place up to the last minute and controversy surrounding the college's beginning, people didn't think this could be done.
"I really got energy when people said we couldn't do It," says Rhodes.
The concern was that the school would funnel state resources away from existing universities and students would not want to attend a school without an accreditation.
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But, the university has more than 550 students enrolled.
"By 2024, were looking for 5,000 students," says Rhodes.
Matt Edwards is one of the school's newest students.
"I like the smaller class sizes," says Edwards, who wants to be an electrical engineer, and likes that the college is the state's only STEM college.
"Stem focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics," says Edwards.
That's what attracted Edwards, plus a free education.
"We had a scholarship which was $5,000 a year for tuition, to cover thre years, a then $3,200 final year," says Rhodes.
It's something the college offered to bring students in since it's not accredited.
"We will apply at the earliest convenient time," says Rhodes, of the accreditation process.
And, work is continuing right up to the deadline including construction on the dorms.
But leaders promise the campus will be ready to go when students move in here in two weeks.
Check this timeline from 10 Investigates that looked into Florida Polytechnic, and its controversial history.