Technology and entrepreneurial education were the focus of TechQuest, a program FloridaWorks and the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development created for 40 local high school students, but the lessons reached far beyond their usual education.
“I learned by receiving a hand, you can turn around and lend a hand,” said TechQuest graduate Jacoby Ford.
TechQuest was a 10-week technology and entrepreneurship seminar for Gainesville-area high school students who were designated by the Alachua County School Board as at risk of not graduating. David Massias, of New Beginnings Ventures, lead students in workshops that introduced students to successful entrepreneurs, CEOs and community leaders who explained their inventions and/or companies, and shared their stories of growth and success.
Discussion leaders included Jamie Grooms, co-founder and former CEO of Regeneration Technologies and Axogen; Bryan Da Frota, CEO of Prioria Robotics, Inc.; Eric Buffkin, co-founder and president of eTect; Randy Scott, former CEO of Novamin Technology Inc., and more. Each student received an iPad to enhance their communication, research, writing, technology and financial-literacy skills. On May 17, Angela Pate, FloridaWorks executive director, and Dug Jones, Santa Fe College vice president of economic development, presented the students with certificates of completion during the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center (GTEC) 10th Anniversary celebration. The hopeful entrepreneurs met community leaders and were exposed to the resources available to innovative new companies.
“This program was a natural fit for Santa Fe College as we are invested both in the local innovation community and in serving the needs of our diverse constituents district-wide,” Dug Jones said. “This opportunity to help bring technology and entrepreneurial training to students from challenging backgrounds was extremely appealing. FloridaWorks has been a great workforce training partner for years.”
Now that the students have completed their training, they will collaborate on a project geared toward integrating them further into the entrepreneurial community. They will also have the opportunity to participate in full-time internships with local businesses and start-up companies.
“This program means the world to me,” said TechQuest graduate John Singleton. “The opportunities provided through FloridaWorks changes lives.”