ORLANDO, Fla. – In just four months, students will fill the new University of Central Florida downtown campus.
Construction continues on the $101 million project as the first day of school this August gets closer.
The campus is more than four years in the making.
Former UCF alumnus Mike Kilbride is the assistant vice president of the new campus and has been overseeing the project.
Kilbride was the family to get a college degree and his three sisters followed his path at the same college, so UCF holds a special place in his heart.
"We're standing in the middle of something that started as an idea, that went from an idea to some plans," Kilbride said.
The campus is a joint education hub between Valencia College and UCF.
Its goal is to create an all-encompassing learning atmosphere that can help students get hands-on experience well before they graduate.
"You go to the legal studies example and we're just a five-, six-minute walk to the courthouse. So, students having the opportunity to intern while they're in their courses," Kilbride said.
UCF's downtown campus will offer the following programs:
- Digital Media
- Emergency Management
- Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy
- Health Management and Informatics
- Legal Studies
- Non-Profit Management
- Public Administration
- Research Administration
- Urban and Regional Planning
Valencia College will offer the following programs:
- Associate in Arts General Education
- Baking and Pastry Management
- Culinary Management
- Digital Media Pre-Major
- Digital Media Technology
- Health Information Management Pre-Major
- Health Information Technology
- Hospitality and Tourism Management
- New Media Communication
- Restaurant and Food Service Management
Culinary classrooms will be as close as a few elevator rides down, since they're located inside the same building as the dorms.
More than 640 beds will be available for students in the New Union West student housing. The privately owned complex will be open to both UCF and Valencia College students. About 45 percent of the beds are already filled.
UCF student Charles Vasquez has seen the construction progress from the very beginning.
"It's really interesting. My biggest concern is, like, how they're going to handle parking and stuff like that because that's always been an issue at main campus," Vasquez said.
About 1,800 new parking spots are being created.
In addition, a partnership between Sunrail and Lynx buses will allow students and staff to ride free of charge.
"That allows students with their student IDs to ride Lynx buses for free, so there's a lot of great options for our students and faculty and staff to connect with this campus if they want to leave their car at home," Kilbride said.
The first day of school is Aug. 26, but Kilbride said students and staff will start moving onto the campus in the beginning of August.