Initial Publication Date: January 28, 2016

About the 2013 Pilot Project - STEM Education Centers: A National Conversation

The current Network of STEM Education Centers project was borne out of a pilot project that began in May 2013. More information about the pilot project is provided below.

The STEM Ed Center pilot project examined the need and value of establishing a robust network and communication among university-based STEM Education Centers to contribute to transforming undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded this project, and it was organized by a planning committee convened by APLU.

Specifically, our project sought to survey the landscape of STEM education centers in order to

  • better understand and document the breadth of programs that support evidence-based practices in undergraduate STEM education;
  • identify commonalities and variations among such centers; and
  • begin to build a national network among such centers.

In the summer of 2013, the project conducted a survey of centers in order to create a preliminary taxonomy of center structures (e.g., how they were established; their mechanisms for working across campus and other organizations) and functions (e.g., the problems or issues the centers were established to address, and how they are being addressed). Simultaneously the project aimed to create a technology infrastructure that could be used to showcase programs, allow for communication among centers, and make these programs and networks accessible to a broad array of constituents.

Building on that work, the project convened a 1.5-day workshop in September 2013.

By mid-fall 2013, the project's outcomes included

  • An initial community of STEM Education Centers;
  • A centralized mechanism for showcasing centers and their outcomes;
  • A workshop report that includes a preliminary taxonomy of center attributes, findings and recommendations for future action;
  • Initial plans for a proposal to create a new network of STEM Education Centers with the purpose of sharing information, resources and strategies that support transforming undergraduate education.
Read the 2013 STEM Education Center Workshopreport.

Planning Committee

May - October, 2013


Noah Finkelstein, PhD, Director, Center for STEM Learning, University of Colorado, Boulder
Cathryn A. Manduca, PhD, Director, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College


Steven Case, PhD, Director, Center for STEM Learning, University of Kansas
Laird Kramer, PhD, Director, STEM Transformational Institute, Florida International University
Robert Mathieu, PhD, Director, CIRTL Network, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Nalini Nadkarni, PhD, Director, Center for Science and Mathematics Education, University of Utah
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, PhD, Director, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Iowa State University

Project Director

Donna Gerardi Riordan, DGR Strategies, Senior Consultant to APLU

Project Summary (Acrobat (PDF) 181kB Jul8 13)