By Michael Hart
A group of 10 colleges and universities have signed on to a new initiative to encourage incoming freshmen to consider majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
While the initiative will take shape in different ways on each campus, almost all have begun to work with orientation-week organizers to include experiential learning opportunities that will connect first-year students with mentors and peers in the University Innovation Fellows program.
The University Innovation Fellows is a program designed to encourage students to act as mentors to help their peers on campus learn entrepreneurial mindsets and confidence. It is funded by the National Science Foundation and managed by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation.
The schools involved in the initiative so far are:
- Clark Atlanta University;
- Michigan Technological University;
- NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering;
- North Dakota State University;
- Union College;
- University of Florida;
- University of Minnesota;
- University of Oklahoma;
- University of Virginia; and
- William Jewell College.
However, 115 United States institutions of higher education are involved with the University Innovations Fellowships program and more can be expected to participate in the #uifresh (University Innovation Freshmen) initiative.
The program is intended to combat a trend documented in a report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that indicates 60 percent of students who begin college planning to major in a STEM subject change their minds, often in their first year of college.
Anne-Laure Fayard, associate professor of technology management and innovation at NYU and program advisor, said of those involved at her university, “It will be exciting to see how they contribute to the #uifresh campaign by thinking of new ways to engage with incoming freshmen, who may feel nervous or unsure about taking on the rigors of college-level work in STEM.”
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.