Florida’s tech sector turning virtual dreams into successful reality


The computer science department at the University of Central Florida in Orlando is losing Ph.D. candidates to West Coast tech titans like Google and Microsoft.

“Some of them bail out” before finishing their doctoral programs, says UCF computer science professor Charles Hughes. “They don’t make a lot of money as graduate students. … It feels good to be making money.”

But with the salaries being offered in Silicon Valley, can you blame them? Hughes doesn’t.

“Undergrads are getting $120,000; Ph.D.s are getting anywhere from $180,000 to $300,000, depending on what their skill sets are,” he said.

But those students might very well wind up back in the Sunshine State sooner than later. Florida tech firms like Plantation-based Magic Leap, Miami360VR, and Tampa’s HD Interactive are at the forefront of the virtual reality and augmented reality trends that are generating big headlines and even bigger investments.

Read more of my feature about Florida’s VR and AR tech scene in Crain’s Tampa Bay business magazine. Photo courtesy of HD Interactive. 

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