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FIU goes bolder in Washington
More than 100 students landed internships, including 50 on Capitol Hill, through FIU in DC's Talent Lab efforts during 2020-2021.

FIU goes bolder in Washington

The university for years has brought faculty researchers to the table with government officials and agency funders while enhancing the education of undergraduates eager to lead. Now that effort is heating up.

March 1, 2022 at 9:00am

FIU has built a network of influence in the nation’s capital that has produced phenomenal success. For decades, the university has connected with legislators in numerous, productive ways. Then in 2016, it established an all-important physical presence in the U.S. seat of government that has helped secure nearly $70 million for work in critical areas, among them the development of antenna technologies for use in defense systems. And just this past year, FIU was first among institutions of higher education requesting millions in direct appropriations from Congress.

FIU's strength in Washington, D.C., lies in the university’s ability to leverage a wide circle of leaders and officials from the public, private and non-profit sectors as well as FIU alumni who have stepped into positions of authority. The synergy makes for a dynamic environment that leads to greater visibility, more opportunities for collaboration with other entities and a growing reputation as a source for leading researchers and workforce-ready employees.

Todd Crowl, a professor of environmental ecology and director of the Institute of Environment, says the university’s presence in the capital over the years has amounted to a game-changer.

“We’re building a network, and, when it comes to federal research funding, that network starts in D.C.,” Crowl says. “Being there opens doors that you don’t open through email or phone calls.”

Impact in Washington

People, Policy and Partnerships

Research Advocacy
$74.3M in appropriations increases, secured grants and earned earmarks through faculty advocacy and programming in Washington, D.C.

Convening Power
65 programs presented to policymakers by faculty experts in areas of FIU preeminence such as water quality, the future of tech talent and brain health

On the heels of solid accomplishments, the university is claiming a new and expanded location just steps from the Capitol building to double down on efforts to showcase FIU as a go-to solutions center while providing transformational leadership opportunities for students.

The soon-to-open space, known formally as “FIU in DC,” will house a seminar room and classroom, a high-tech facility in which researchers, policymakers and the business community can meet about the most important topics of the day and a media lab from which to share live programming.

Faculty will utilize the facility as a briefing center to support agency collaboration and host executive education conferences with partners around the country looking to learn about the latest advances coming out of FIU research centers in Miami, be they related to the building of resilient coastal infrastructure or community health issues.

“This is going to be an incredible platform for our preeminent researchers to assert leadership,” says Carlos Becerra, associate vice president of government affairs. “Their cutting-edge research will truly be on display.”

Hundreds of students annually are invited to visit Washington, D.C. — with expenses covered by FIU’s student government — for three-day educational sessions and formal introductions to government officials, agency representatives and others in a bid to deepen their knowledge, secure internships and, eventually, land jobs.

The Talent Lab
100+ student internships, including 50 on Capitol Hill

1200+ participants in career-focused “fly-in” seminars aimed at connecting students to job opportunities

Alumni Influence
4,000 Panthers working in the area, including 50 Congressional staffers, White House appointees (among them Assistant Director for Strategic Health and Cancer Science Henry Rodriguez ’88) and others in positions of power (such as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Carmen Reinhart ’75)

The new 5,000-square-foot Washington, D.C., home will allow FIU to impact even more young people. Professors across the university are formalizing plans to bring students to the capital for semester-long courses, and journalism majors will move their existing capital bureau into the space.

“If you’re even remotely thinking of doing anything related to politics, international development or simply want to work in the capital, FIU in DC is the place to go," says Sabrina Pecorelli '21, who majored in political science and international relations and now works as a program associate at the International Republican Institute. "They have this way of connecting you with organizations, internships and employers that will be a good fit for you." 

Agency Partnerships
15 key federal agencies looking to FIU for solutions in a variety of areas, among them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency seeking storm surge modeling, the Federal Highway Administration seeking new bridge technologies, the Environmental Protection Agency seeking water quality data and the U.S. Agency for International Development seeking diverse talent