Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) alumni and friends gathered at a reception at Costa d’Este Thursday evening, where they heard from FIT President, Dr. Anthony (AJ) Catanese, and others on the staff about their plans to develop the Vero Beach Marine Laboratory (locals know it as the tracking station) into a world class research facility.
Vero Beach resident, Fritz Spitzmiller will be leading a local task force to link FIT research and scientific initiatives with the needs of Indian River County. Dr. Catanese remarked on a number of FIT research projects including those affiliated with the space program, the Department of Defense and with Alzheimer research, and noted that their Scott Center for Autism is one of the major autism centers in Florida. FIT has requested $15 million in stimulus money which would allow the Vero Beach Marine Laboratory to expand its marine aquaculture and sea-grass ecology, with the ultimate goal of creating a multi-disciplinary science and research center. They eventually hope to introduce a public education center which will allow children to experience biological processes.
Expansion plans call for developing the facility as the greenest possible, with a 0 net energy and 0 net carbon footprint design. The lab is uniquely located, having access to subtropical marine habitats and the biodiversity of the Indian River Lagoon estuaries. In addition to its acting as a base for the research center, the sturdy radar tower provides a 360 observation point which will allow them to research lightening strikes over the ocean and inland.