The new Florida Power and Light Company Innovation Center in the Pensacola State College Charter Academy can take a student from the middle of an African savanna where they are surrounded by zebras and elephants to inside the human body to learn up close about biology.
Those journeys are made on one of 10 virtual reality goggles that are part of the high-tech, state-of-the-art equipment in the Florida Power and Light Company Charter Academy Innovation Center that was dedicated Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Funded by a $100,000 donation from Florida Power and Light in 2021, the Innovation Center will provide Charter Academy students with the opportunity to have cutting-edge technology at their fingertips.
“With a strong focus on career exploration, this Innovation Center will allow our students to have hands-on capabilities with virtual reality, 3D imaging, graphic and architectural design, STEM and robotic exploration and countless experiences limited only by their imagination,” said Karen McCabe, Charter Academy principal.
Located In Building 3400 on the College’s Warrington campus, the Charter Academy opened in August with 49 11th- and 12th-grade students. In Fall 2024, the Charter Academy will accept 10th graders.
At the dedication ceremony, Charter Academy students stayed busy on the new equipment – some exploring realms on the virtual reality goggles, others studying biology on interactive display computers.
“It’s awesome,’’ Charter Academy senior Salvador Zendejas said of the school and the Innovation Center. “In high school, you’re trapped in a little box. Here, you are free to explore what you want to explore.”
What about the cutting-edge equipment? He pointed to a few of the computers used in the Innovation Center.
“I looked up the specs last night,’’ Zendejas said. “They’re stronger than most consoles. It’s insane. Everything here is just above what you’re going to find in any high school. It’s just the best.”
At the dedication, Pensacola State President Ed Meadows was joined by Florida Power and Light Company Senior External Affairs Manager Rick Byars, several PSC Board of Trustees and PSC Foundation Board of Governors members along with other dignitaries.
Meadows noted the long relationship between the College and the utility company.
“Florida Power and Light Company and the Florida Power and Light Company Foundation have a strong partnership with the College with a history of giving and service that is evident in the over $723,000 in past gifts and the 55 years of giving from company leaders actively involved in our work,” Meadows said.
“Pensacola State College Charter Academy, with the support of school leaders, teachers, families, and strategic partners within the community, will lay the groundwork for students to excel as college and career-ready lifelong learners and instill in students a profound understanding of their roles and responsibilities as citizens and leaders in their communities,” Meadows added.
Dr. Troy Tippett, chairman of the PSC Board of Trustees and leader of the Charter Academy Board, expressed appreciation to Florida Power and Light.
“We are grateful for your investment of $100,000 that will help ensure high school students can pursue an exceptional education as Charter Academy students,” Tippett added. “We look forward to sharing the impact that the Florida Power and Light Foundation’s support will have for years to come.”
Tippett was one of many attendees who took a trip while wearing the virtual reality goggles.
“This is just incredible technology that is going to have such an impact on these students,’’ he said. “These students are incredible as well – I met one who wants to be a neurosurgeon. They’re going to benefit greatly from this Innovation Center.”
There are no tuition fees or charges for textbooks at the Charter Academy. To be eligible, students must have an unweighted grade point average of 3.0 or better and have earned appropriate college placement scores. Charter Academy students can earn a high school diploma, and college credits toward an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science concurrently.
For more information on the PSC Charter Academy, visit https://charteracademy.pensacolastate.edu/. To apply for the PSC Charter Academy, visit https://charteracademy.pensacolastate.edu/admissions/apply-now/.