April 24, 2016 – The Colorado School of Mines is one of 29 higher education institutions taking part in the national STEM initiative called #uifresh (University Innovation Freshmen). Schools participating in the initiative commit to exposing all incoming freshmen to design thinking, entrepreneurship and innovation in order to attract and retain more students in STEM disciplines. The news was announced on April 13, 2016, to coincide with the White House Science Fair as part of a collection of initiatives to expand high-quality STEM education opportunities.
The #uifresh initiative was created by the University Innovation Fellows, a student leadership 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. #uifresh was launched with 10 institutions during the 5th White House Science Fair in March 2015. Since then, 19 additional institutions joined the initiative, including 9 new schools in the last month.
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. The program has trained more than 600 students at 143 institutions since its inception.
The Fellows are working with their institutions’ leaders and orientation week organizers to provide learning opportunities that are fun, experiential, creative and lead to increased interest in innovation on campus. Fellows were required to secure letters of support from their college and university presidents in order to join the campaign.
Nine new institutions joined the initiative in 2016:
The following institutions joined #uifresh in 2015:
In Fall 2015, #uifresh schools organized a variety of specially designed freshmen orientation activities. These activities ranged from a design thinking workshop with 1,300 freshmen from all majors to an event for first-year engineering majors focused on awareness, communication and teamwork.
To learn more about the University Innovation Fellows, visit:
The program is currently accepting applications for Spring 2016; apply by October 26 at: