A new collaboration forming at the University of Central Florida and beginning in January 2023 will expand resources for student veterans by providing specialized training and machining access, as well as internship opportunities.
The collaboration involves Limbitless Solutions, a direct support organization at UCF, UCF’s Office of Military and Veteran Student Success (MVS2) and UCF’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL). Together, they will focus on increasing access to internship opportunities located at UCF’s main campus, providing better access to training opportunities for advanced manufacturing equipment, and augmenting support for the entrepreneurial aspirations for students with a veteran status.
At UCF, the student-veteran and military-affiliated student population is estimated to be 1,900 strong on campus. Additionally, UCF received a military friendly silver award for the 2022-23 school year, recognizing the university’s ability to help veterans succeed in the classroom and the real world.
“Advanced manufacturing continues to grow at a rapid pace throughout Central Florida,” says MVS2 Director Michael Kepner ’19MA. “This collaboration is the perfect next step in developing a talent-pipeline of student veterans to meet the workforce needs of our partners. This partnership with Limbitless provides our student veterans with the technical skills they need to unleash their potential and fill this critical requirement.”
Kepner is an U.S. Army retiree and joined UCF in July 2022.
Limbitless Solutions has partnerships with key industry partners for advanced manufacturing — including Autodesk (design software) and Stratasys (3D printer manufacturing) and Tormach (CNC machinery manufacturer).
Last year, Limbitless Solutions opened a new research facility dedicated to bionics research, advanced manufacturing and undergraduate student research development in Research Park. The facility has more than 5,000-square-feet of space near UCF’s main campus, making it accessible for students by the Pegasus Express campus shuttle.
The machinery at the advanced manufacturing facilities includes computer numerical control (CNC) milling and lathe machines, large 3D printers, laser cutters, vacuum thermoforming, and a full range of automotive painting equipment.
“Limbitless Solutions is excited to announce this new collaborative effort with MVS2 and CEL to provide opportunities for advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurship for student veterans,” says Limbitless Solutions Executive Director Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD. “Not only will this support advancing our work for pediatric and adult focused bionic arms, but it will also provide opportunities that can unleash the potential of our students.”
UCF’s Blackstone LaunchPad program, an initiative offered by UCF’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, is transforming students from all backgrounds and majors into entrepreneurial leaders who understand how to create and deliver new solutions to important problems.
Students who are interested in pursuing any venture — social or otherwise — are encouraged to visit the Blackstone LaunchPad on the first floor of the Student Union to get free, confidential, one-on-one coaching from an expert startup mentor.
“We support students from all majors who are freelancers, side-hustlers, innovators or future founders, and we are excited about supporting student veterans who are interested in creating their own economic opportunities,” says Cameron Ford, founding director of UCF’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
An estimated 500 to 600 students have met with startup mentors in the Blackstone LaunchPad annually since it opened in 2013. Volunteers from the business community help students learn how to create opportunities, design solutions, develop business models, and launch startup ventures.