NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Answers White House Call to Combat Attrition in STEM Studies

According to figures released by the White House, 60 percent of students who arrive at college intending to major in areas related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) switch to other subjects, often in their first year. The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering is helping to fight that trend by joining the #uifresh campaign, which aims to expose all incoming freshmen to the types of experiences in design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation that will attract and retain more new students in the STEM disciplines.

The school is one of just 10 across the country helping to launch the campaign, which is an initiative of the University Innovation Fellows program. That program offers students in engineering and other fields the training and support to become leaders who catalyze change on their home campuses. The fellows help other students learn about the entrepreneurial mindset, innovation, creativity, design thinking, and venture creation at their schools as well as found clubs, host events and workshops, collaborate with faculty on new classes, create student maker spaces, and provide opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering has been part of the program, which is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) and funded by the National Science Foundation, since its inception.

“Our University Innovation Fellows gain a deep understanding of the power of design thinking and how it can help activate creative and multidisciplinary collaborations across schools at NYU,” says Associate Professor of Technology Management and Innovation Anne-Laure Fayard, who has nominated several students for fellowships and who serves as program advisor. “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.”

As a first step of the #uifresh campaign, the fellows will work with orientation-week organizers to hold experiential learning opportunities that connect first-year students to peer communities of makers and innovators at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

President Barack Obama announced the launch of the campaign, along with numerous other initiatives to inspire and prepare more young people to excel in the STEM fields, at the 2015 White House Science Fair on March 23.

“We are proud to join for the third time with the White House in the President’s ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to STEM education,” Dean of Engineering Katepalli Sreenivasan says. “Our students, faculty, and alumni are impassioned participants in the movement to invent and innovate, and we strive to instill that ethos into students from the moment they arrive here.”