As this academic year begins, 20 higher education institutions are welcoming their incoming students in a unique way as part of a national STEM initiative called #uifresh (University Innovation Freshmen). Through this initiative, participating institutions are exposing incoming freshmen to design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation in order to attract and retain more students in STEM disciplines. Ten new schools have joined the 10 schools that committed to #uifresh earlier this year.
The initiative was created by the University Innovation Fellows, a national student organization, to combat STEM attrition in the United States. According to a report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, about 60 percent of students who arrive at college intending to major in STEM subjects switch to other subjects, often in their first year. The initiative was launched on March 23, 2015, during the White House Science Fair as part of a White House collection of initiatives to further enhance STEM in the U.S.
The University Innovation Fellows program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. The program empowers students to become change agents in higher education who help their peers develop an entrepreneurial mindset and creative confidence. <Read more.>