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Where Are They Now? PalmettoINSITU’s Michael Cox

A Florida Tech degree can mean many things: a family promise fulfilled; a diploma to match your job experience; a path to a new career or promotion. Whatever their motivation, our graduates have enjoyed many long-term benefits from their time at Florida Tech, ranked among the best universities in the nation for having a high return on investment (ROI).

In our Where Are They Now? series, we are following up with our grads to see how their Florida Tech degree has changed their lives and inspired them to reach for even greater heights.


Michael Cox, MS in Information Technology/Cybersecurity, Class of 2014

“I now understand what it means to say that ‘knowledge is power,’” says the South Carolina business owner.

Currently, I own and operate a geotechnical and environmental exploration firm that I organized in 2014 shortly after finishing my masters’ degree at Florida Institute of Technology. We are now proudly entering our fourth year of INSITU services to the geotechnical engineering sector.

Having obtained my associate’s degree after graduating from high school, I went directly into the workforce and made a decent living. However, I reached a point in my life where I needed to be able to do more with myself, I was not fulfilled. I was not exactly sure what that “big career thing” was supposed to be. I did know I needed more advanced education to make it happen.

Fast-forward several years, and now having received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida Tech, I have been able to start and run a highly technical business with a somewhat fast-paced operational tempo.

My growing company, PalmettoINSITU in Charleston, S.C., provides critical data to geotechnical, environmental and civil engineers in a landscape where few roadmaps or sitemaps exist. I’m not saying that everyone has to run out and invest a lot of money, time and effort into a couple of college degrees to launch and run a business, but my Florida Tech degrees have paved many rocky roads with fresh, smooth pavement for me and our clients!

The interactions shared with Florida Tech professors and other students have proven invaluable. I better appreciate what true determination and actual hard work in the classroom can help me achieve – and what it means to have to continue to try and try and try, every day on the job, often seven days a week. Reaching goals that seemed far too high to achieve comes easier with brain power that no one can ever take away.

With each passing day, I treasure more and more the education time I invested to get two degrees from Florida Tech. I find that my thought process is different now than it was before my studies; once your brain is filled with tangible tools, your career begins to go on autopilot upward. I am able to use problem-solving skills I learned in class and during grueling homework to work through very abstract challenges and decisions.

The skill-sets installed by Florida Tech have allowed me to collate the right resources to satisfy nearly any problem or need that my firm or our clients encounter. It is impossible to foresee all the possible decisions one will face managing a company and growing their career, but having a toolbox full of tools to solve those problems has allowed me to continue to grow my company – and my soul, for that matter – since graduating.

I now understand what it means to say that “knowledge is power.” Knowledge truly is power, on many levels.

‘A Well-Rounded Education’

Graduating with my Master’s in IT/Cybersecurity, I was made more aware of the myriad issues facing today’s workplaces over the internet.

My firm collects data that is immediately transferred online to clients who need to make critical civil engineering decisions quickly. The growing need to interact with numerous devices and use any number of operating systems means that all graduates going forward must be able to access, share and protect electronic information.

That data must be safe to use, retain its integrity, be easy to access by legitimate clients and remain maintained in a secure IT environment. The curriculum at Florida Tech has allowed me to develop specific techniques and systems, and evaluate and procure software and hardware that can be a very expensive mistake if not chosen wisely.

I have also used actual classroom experience from all six Florida Tech accounting classes to set up the books for my firm. I have returned to coursework to reconcile fiscal books, make purchase and loan decisions, and pay taxes accurately. These are the moments that shine with me today from my studies at Florida Tech a few years ago.

Florida Tech gave me more than a well-rounded math and science education. My degrees keep me yearning for more knowledge and more insight, which not every undergraduate may understand yet. I continue to study art and art history, including painting, sculpture and landscape designs, as well as my vocational studies.

I have often recommended Florida Tech to friends and family members who have children coming of age, looking for a college, because I know the student will be exposed to a liberal arts education. This, to me, means that the student will see the benefits of using both sides of the brain. Integrating math, science, art, philosophy, psychology – many of the challenging issues of life – into an education helps one to better digest the situations one will have to endure through life. For example, one could use the teachings of Carl Jung from psychology class to understand what a colleague, boss, employee, salesperson or politician is doing, or, at the very least, understand that there is possibly a reasonable explanation for the action.

All these topics of study are required to more than survive, but to thrive in life.

‘Great Choice for Any Student’

Studies at Florida Tech are in an intimate environment that I always found to be personable and relatable. The professors I had always offered plenty of extra office hours and accessibility so I could reach out to them when needed. Many of my professors shared personal life experiences that mirrored my own path. This spoke volumes to me, to know that I was not the only student climbing a long career ladder. Bottom line: Florida Tech professors are willing to keep many lines of communication open to students when they need it most.

I felt that all of my professors treated me very compassionately while challenging me, as well. That was the culture I sensed while studying at Florida Tech and why I feel the school is such a great choice for determined students.



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