Jacksonville University announces opening of innovative STEAM Institute

August 28, 2023

Jacksonville University cut the ribbon this morning on a renovated 30,000-square-foot facility dedicated to interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics studies on its Arlington campus. 

The STEAM Institute is among the first of its kind in the country – a standalone space dedicated to STEAM studies, housing unique learning spaces for students in the sciences, engineering, and arts. Disciplines that use the space include students in animation, computing sciences, cybersecurity, data science, engineering, film, fintech, game design, geographic information systems, robotics, sustainability, and visual design. Students in the STEAM Institute will develop highly-valued skills in today’s workforce: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. 

“The STEAM Institute embodies Jacksonville University’s commitment to applied learning,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost. “Students in the STEAM Institute learn by doing, working in teams to design, create, and innovate. That kind of learning sets them apart from students at other institutions that are confined to textbooks.” 

At the forefront of the project are spaces unique to Jacksonville University and other institutions in the state, including a CyberRange simulation training center and FinTech Lab. A new undergraduate major and a master of business administration concentration in FinTech, or financial technology, which launched in fall 2022, complement the creation of the new space. The interdisciplinary program offers students courses at the intersection of finance, computer science, business analytics, and data science. This helps create a pipeline of qualified professionals in Northeast Florida, a burgeoning hub for FinTech companies such as FIS, Black Knight, Deutsche Bank, SoFi and more. 

Professor of Media Arts Bill Hill was named Executive Director of the STEAM Institute this summer. Hill has been at Jacksonville University for over 20 years, dedicating his time to teaching the arts, developing various academic programs, and serving as an administrator in roles such as the Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Chair of the Department of Media Arts. 

“With the creation of the STEAM Institute, we are striving to remove barriers between disciplines to foster a collaborative exchange of ideas that will empower our students to solve the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce,” Hill said. 

Highlights of the new STEAM space include:

The STEAM Institute’s CyberRange offers state-of-the-art technology that simulates an organizations’ network and includes applications to provide students with a safe environment to learn hands-on cybersecurity skills. Students can participate in hyper-realistic, simulated cyberattacks to test their knowledge and develop their skills. The Cyber Forensics Laboratory complements the CyberRange as it provides space for students to examine, repair, and extract data as well as analyze intrusion and malware. It will also be used to train law enforcement and support counterintelligence and defense industrial base operations. 

The FinTech Lab at JU provides an experiential setting where students apply software, mobile applications, and other technologies that support wealth management, banking, and financial services. Students will learn A.I. and machine learning, big data analysis, and financial programming in the lab. 

The 2,200-square-foot Film and Media Studio serves as a space to produce high-quality visual and audio products while utilizing top-of-the-line industry cameras, lighting, audio and equipment. Students in animation, communication, dance, engineering, design and theater will collaborate in the space.

Animation, Design, and Illustration Studios are creative spaces for motion graphics, data visualization, creative entrepreneurship, game design, 3D modeling, virtual reality, medical imaging, and 3D printing.

In the Robotics Design space, students explore the precision movements of robotic systems by using computer programs to control a robotic combination of sensors and motorized wheels and actuators that can perform a complex task or drive through a maze.

The Immersive Learning Studio is a scalable space to develop and leverage immersive simulation technology for instruction across multiple disciplines. This space supports the creation of original virtual reality content for both educational and entertainment applications in partnership with Media Arts. It also can be utilized in clinical nursing training, applied health sciences, aviation, military and global studies.
For more information on STEAM at Jacksonville University, visit ju.edu/steam.


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