A fact-filled tour through UCF's annual Spirit Splash event.
Spirit Splash B O O K F L O R I D A IP C E N T R A L L O F F U N I V E R S I T Y UCF spirit makes a splash In 1995, the student body presidentâ€™s cabinet members threw him into the Reflecting Pond. And everyone jumped into the pond after him! That day, a new UCF tradition startedâ€”every year, Spirit Splash kicks off our Homecoming events. To many UCF students, it is our most memorable event. 1 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Optic lasers and a double-wide In 1986, UCF started an innovative program: the Center for Research in Electro-optics and Lasers (CREOL). And when the programâ€™s first director, M.J. Soileau, and his team started, they had a bit of a problem: 10 Texans and 43,000 pounds of optical cable and equipment just wouldnâ€™t fit into a single double-wide trailer. Today, the program is known as the College of Optics and Photonics, and is internationally known for its excellence as researchers make groundbreaking discoveries. 2 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A The death protein It’s not a horror story—it’s a groundbreaking discovery of a protein that appears to annihilate healthy cells and could be responsible for heart disease and cancer. Dr. Annette Khaled of the College of Medicine says “the occupancy of a prominent hydrophobic groove within the molecular structure of BAX could be the key to controlling the protein’s lethal activity.” We’re not sure what that means, but her $1 million in research funds tell us she’s on to something. 3 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Graduation…in the Reflecting Pond? When President Richard Nixon gave UCF’s 1973 commencement speech, students and their guests were sitting in the Reflecting Pond (which was drained, of course). The pond was the only place secure enough for the President—helicopters landed on the roof of the administration building and security guards stood on the UCF Library. This tradition was short-lived due to the heat. 4 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Cancer detectives It’s estimated that—in the U.S. alone—400,000 people die from cancer every year. UCF researchers at the College of Medicine’s Biomolecular Science Center (BSC) wonder: What if we detected it earlier? And how can technology help us reduce the number of deaths? Teaming up with the College of Optics and Photonics and the NanoScience Technology Center, the BSC is researching advanced technologies in order to answer those questions. 5 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Acting out The UCF-Orlando Shakespeare Festival started out as an exercise in avoiding term papers. In 1974, Professor Stuart Omans gave his students a choice: write papers or act out Shakespeare plays for high school students. The shows became a hit in Orlando, sparking interest all over Florida. The troupe called themselves “Simply Shakespeare,” but as the years passed the troupe’s shows became a full-fledged event. 6 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Small businesses. Big plans. 130 businesses started. 1,600 jobs created. $500 million in impact. And the numbers just go up from there at UCFâ€™s Incubation Program, where small businesses transition from innovation to realization with a little help from their friends at UCF. From research to marketing plans, the incubator boosts Central Floridaâ€™s economy by helping start-ups start out right. 7 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A UCF and its POW After seven years in captivity in Vietnam, Glen Perkins (’76) chose Florida Technological University (now UCF) to restart his life at home. On February 12, 1973, Perkins was sent home to the U.S. amid a storm of national media attention—he was one of the first two former POWs to come home. UCF’s first President, Charles Millican, was top-of-mind for the veteran. Perkins knew what he wanted—an education and an opportunity. As he took his seat in his first class, the cameras were rolling. 8 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A We grew up together UCF and Central Florida have a close economic and cultural relationship. After all, we grew up together. UCF continues to grow along with Central Florida, building from a small class of less than 2,000 students in 1968 to a little more than 11,000 in 1988 and, finally, to more than 53,000 in 2010, making UCF the third-largest university in the nation. 9 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Naked ambitions In the 1970s, UCF saw its fair share of streakers (people who run through public places naked). One day, administrators were shocked when students lined-up on either side of the road while streakers jumped out of a car on one end, ran through the street, finally jumping into another car at the end. David Retherford, now a manager of the Digital Imaging Processing Lab at UCF, remembers the Library elevator doors openingâ€”and four streakers running out. 10 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A How Charles Millican rolled As UCF’s first president, Charles Millican was a man of action— in a wheelchair. During the 1972-73 academic school year, Millican decided to find out what it was like for students with disabilities. So, he pushed himself around the university in a wheelchair for a day. His findings? He couldn’t get into buildings or fit into bathroom stalls. And this exercise led to real change at UCF. 11 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Shining a light on pollution We know pollution is a grim topic. But what if we could shine some light on it? And that is exactly what UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) did. Using ultraviolet light (and something called a “semiconductor”), researchers at FSEC developed a process to destroy airborne pollutants. 12 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A 58 years and 15 minutes The 1976-77 school year saw something truly original when 58-year-old Rita Reutter won her bid for Homecoming queen and 15 minutes of fame. Running with the slogan, “You can have a cutie pie anytime. Let’s have something different,” Reutter collected 75 percent of 841 votes. It wasn’t long before she was on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and a game show called “To Tell the Truth.” 13 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A High-tech hospitality In 2004, UCF completed the largest, most modern facility ever built for hospitality management education. Built for the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the facility is 159,000 square feet, has 22 high-tech classrooms, an executive education center, a 2,000-seat teaching dining room and bar, a beer and wine laboratory, two teaching kitchens and a 400-seat auditorium. 14 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Launched into space Is there life on Mars? We don’t know, yet, but we do know UCF technology has been there. Physics and Astronomy Professor Dan Britt and two students designed special tools used to capture color on Mars and allow scientists to learn about the planet’s terrain. The new design landed with NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander in May 2008. 15 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Black plague meets its match Most of us heard about the Black Plague in history class, but maybe didn’t know it was a worldwide concern today. With new outbreaks occurring internationally and its potential as a bioterrorist tool, Professor Henry Daniell thinks it’s essential to have a vaccine— and has discovered an oral vaccine made from plants. 16 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Kicking Off a New Era In 2007, UCF played its first game in the new, on-campus Bright House Networks Stadium. Together with 45,000 students, faculty, alumni and fans, the team celebrated the start of a new era of UCF athletics. The stadium brings together students, faculty and staff, alumni, and community partners to get involved in new traditions. 17 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A A new stage in UCF performing arts Weâ€™re building a new center for the UCF Conservatory Theatre and the Department of Music that will feature a concert hall, a lecture hall, a theater, practice rooms, classrooms, offices and room to rehearse. The UCF Performing Arts Center will be part of a new and vibrant arts communityâ€”so get ready for some serious entertainment. 18 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Jobs. Progress. Discoveries. Did that get your attention? In 1996, UCF and the University of South Florida partnered to create the Florida High-Tech Corridor, which is a major force for attracting and retaining technological businesses. The University of Florida joined the corridor in 2005, expanding it to a 27-county region that is emerging as one of the nationsâ€™ premier high-tech clusters. 19 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Interested in the economy? Listen up. When Dr. Sean Snaith speaks up about the economy, people listen. The professor and his team members at UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness are deeply involved in forecasting the state’s and the nation’s economic futures, releasing forecasts every quarter. From The New York Times to Forbes Magazine, Snaith and his team garner national kudos monthly. Bloomberg News ranked the center in the national top five for accuracy. 20 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Teaching teachers If a pilot trains using a simulation program, why canâ€™t a teacher? Together with Lockheed Martin and the UCF Institute for Simulation and Training, the College of Education is using an interactive, virtual training atmosphere to prepare future teachers before they enter the classroom. 21 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Move over Harvard UCF joined prestigious research universities such as MIT and Harvard in the top 10 of the 2009 â€œPatent Scorecard,â€? which ranks technology gained from patents. UCF jumped from eighth to third. Just like our rapid rise to prominence, we think in leaps and bounds. 22 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Lasers. And Maya ruins. This might sound like the next Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s really UCF professors at work. Archeologists Arlen and Diane Chase are using laser technology designed by UCF biology professor John Weishampel to map out ruins in Belize—allowing them to “see” buildings, roadways and even terraces once used for farming by the Maya, one of the most advanced societies in history. 12 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Real-world solutions. Real early. UCF undergraduates donâ€™t wait to get their hands dirty. They start solving real-world problems early through UCFâ€™s Undergraduate Research Initiative. Every year, UCF matches research funds, giving up to $100,000 total a year to many undergraduate students who are ready to start researching. 24 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A No small tasks. No small rewards. In 1968, the Florida Technological University (now UCF) opened its doors with just a couple of buildings and a lot of gumption. Today, the 1,415-acre campus boasts 180 buildings, 11 regional campuses, and state-of-the-art classrooms. After all that, you’d think we’d take a break—but UCF isn’t done. The opening of the medical city will create more possibilities than anyone imagined 40 years ago. 25 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Passport required At UCF, we think internationally in everything we doâ€”from our research to our partnerships in industry and education to the diversity of our student body. With more than 1,700 international students enrolled from 141 countries, weâ€™re reaching farther than ever. 26 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Did we mention jobs? Together with UCF, the Central Florida Research Park provides the region with more than 46,000 jobs. More than an economic entity, Research Park is also home to some of the regionâ€™s top researchers in simulation and training, optics and lasers, behavioral science and more. 27 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Debt-free doctors? UCFâ€™s College of Medicine made history before it received a single application. Our generous individual donors, industry partners and community made it possible to give an entire 41-student charter class full, four-year scholarships for the first time in U.S. medical school history. This made the college a choice for 4,307 applicantsâ€” and made people across the nation sit up and take notice. 28 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A At your service UCF students go beyond the classroom and help the Central Florida community. In 2009, more than 10,000 students volunteered about 155,000 hours, helping the region avoid $2.7 million in costs. And the university earned the Engaged Campus Award. 29 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Dust-free research When you think of scholarly work in the humanitiesâ€”literary, artistic, historical or all of the aboveâ€”it might bring to mind dusty books and the basements of libraries. But for the UCF Center for Humanities and Digital Research, it means bringing up an 18thcentury textâ€”or connecting art across oceans online. 30 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Showing our spirit Spirit Splash is only one example of our traditions. Itâ€™s one way we show how excited we are to be a part of a growing, diverse and dynamic community committed to innovation, as well as one another. From the UCF Fight Song to the Homecoming parade, Knights know how to have fun and show their school spirit. 31 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A UCF Today. Every day. Another way Knights show their school spirit is by sharing their accomplishments with one another—across students, faculty, staff, alumni, community and friends. There is always something new on UCF Today online. Maybe your professors didn’t like back-talk, but we want talk-back—so go ahead, comment on a post and share your experiences. To join us, visit today.ucf.edu. 32 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A And all of this means…? In a region that’s booming with growth and a university that’s gaining in strength as its partner, there are so many directions students can take their knowledge—and apply it. As we grow in numbers, we grow in stature and we grow personally and professionally. As we grow, so do the returns on a UCF degree. 33 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A And for you? Whatever your connection to UCF, this means that there are still ways for you to get involved with UCF—by donating, volunteering, cheering us on at a game or by just spreading the word about everything we’re doing for Central Florida, for our students and for you. And if you ever miss us, just remember that we’re only a click or a phone call away. To check out what we’re up to, visit www.ucf.edu or today.ucf.edu. See you there. 34 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C E N T R A L F L O R I D A Go Knights!