STEM Transformation Institute launches

FIU launched the STEM Transformation Institute today, a multidisciplinary partnership that will pave the way for student success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Globally, the demand for STEM-educated professionals is increasing. As a nation, we need to put a greater focus on educating a greater number of STEM graduates and specifically minority STEM graduates,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “The STEM Transformation Institute is FIU’s commitment to our community, intended to develop and implement research-driven, replicable models for multicultural urban communities.”

The STEM Transformation Institute responds to several key recommendations made by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology to meet the national imperative for more and diverse scientists and engineers. Leaders from all sectors, including business, government, and education, have called for increased investments in the next generation of innovators and problem solvers, given the increasingly technological and challenging world. Many STEM-based jobs are going unfilled or moving overseas as the country struggles to keep pace with the demand.

Laird Kramer, founding director of the STEM Transformation Institute, facilitates a magnetism exercise during a recent physics class.

While FIU has maintained a long-standing commitment to excellence in the STEM disciplines, the institute brings all of the university’s efforts together into a collective mission to transform STEM education from preschool through graduate school. Transformative institute approaches include implementing collaborative learning models and innovative pathways to increase the number, diversity and excellence of STEM graduates and teachers.

Currently, FIU has 7,500 undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields, is the largest producer of STEM degrees for Hispanics and one of the top producers of STEM degrees for all minorities. The university manages more than $20 million in active STEM education grants. The STEM Transformation Institute brings together faculty from FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences, College of Education, and College of Engineering and Computing to build a nationally recognized STEM education research group that will capitalize on these efforts and develop effective instructional techniques for the classroom.

The institute will target STEM majors and non-STEM majors alike, promoting education projects designed to increase science and math literacy among all students, while increasing enrollment, retention and graduation rates for STEM students. The institute’s approach will focus on research, as well as university-industry partnerships.

“We know how to prepare top quality STEM professionals by placing the student in the center of learning,” said Laird Kramer, founding director of the STEM Transformation Institute. “The STEM Transformation Institute will bring those techniques to the forefront, benefitting all of our students.”

In addition, the STEM Transformation Institute will lead FIU’s commitment to the 100Kin10 movement, an initiative that responded to President Barack Obama’s call-to-action — train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next 10 years to keep America vibrant and prosperous. Carnegie Corporation of New York convened a diverse group of organizations to respond to this national call, including FIU. The university is working with Miami-Dade County Public Schoolsto recruit, prepare and retain 200 local STEM teachers in 26 low-performing schools. Dubbed “Teach STEM Miami,” the program provides high-quality science and mathematics teacher preparation for future elementary and secondary school teachers.