Executive Director’s Message – Dr. Terry Parker, Florida Polytechnic University Provost, FIPR Institute Executive Director

This fiscal year FIPR Institute has undergone a change in leadership that will direct the Institute’s operation and focus going forward. Florida Polytechnic University President Randy Avent appointed University Provost Dr. Terry Parker as FIPR Institute Executive Director in August 2019. This highlights the University’s recognition that FIPR holds a vital strategic position within the University and its commitment to support and foster the Institute’s role as an international center of excellence. This comes at a time when the Institute’s Strategic Priorities for the next five years need to be formulated.

As a first step, I have appointed Dr. James Mennie, Assistant Professor of Business Analytics at Florida Polytechnic to serve as Business Director for the Institute. Dr. Mennie has been tasked with assessing current business operations and to develop a strategic plan for the coming years. Dr. Mennie brings expertise in business analytics that will be brought to bear in addressing all FIPR business operations to include funding, budgeting, personnel, facilities and project management. The goal is to have FIPR become a self-sustaining concern, not wholly reliant on its portion of the Phosphate Severance Tax.

During the past year, FIPR’s research into separation of dolomite using the packed column jig has shown great promise. The laboratory unit has demonstrated effective separation and a pilot-scale unit will be installed at Mosaic’s South Pasture mine later this year to determine effectiveness at that scale. The ability to sustainably demonstrate this technology could expand phosphate resources in Florida by 100%. In addition, many of the world’s other phosphate deposit exhibit dolomite contamination and could be potential customers for this technology. FIPR’s participation as a key partner with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute has established the Institute as the leader in rare earth element research into recovery from phosphate processing streams. We hope to capitalize on this position through additional research and business opportunities.

The Institute’s role within the University has been further solidified during the past year. FIPR was instrumental in laying out the Program Course of Study that was approved by the Florida Board of Governors. The new Environmental Engineering Bachelor of Science degree program at the University is designed to collaborate closely with FIPR to provide long term, real-world projects for project-based learning throughout the curriculum. Faculty and students in the program will have the resources, experience and connections of the Institute available to support their research.

The Institute’s Outreach Program has continued to be leveraged to promote STEM knowledge to K-12 students in central Florida. This outreach has exposed prospective University students to the great opportunities available to them through this program of excellence. Also, in the past year FIPR’s library has assumed all interlibrary loan service for University students, faculty and staff. It is our full intention to keep this integration effort moving ahead as part of the greater effort to bring FIPR and Florida Poly together.