Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SRMN?

The STEM Research and Modeling Network (SRMN) is an innovative partnership, founded by the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), Raytheon, and The Ohio State University (OSU).  With significant involvement from national partners, the SRMN brings together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and funders who all share the goal of using predictive modeling to strengthen student interest, participation and achievement in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  

Why should people care about STEM?

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are vital to American innovation and competitiveness, yet relatively few U.S. students obtain STEM bachelor’s degrees. While the number of degrees awarded in the STEM fields has increased modestly over the last decade, only 15.6 percent of bachelor’s degrees were awarded in these fields in 2007, and the overall share of degrees awarded in STEM fields actually shrank during the past five years.

Meanwhile, our major competitors are ramping up their education systems, and focusing on STEM education as a means to bolster their economic competitiveness. This relative dearth of U.S. STEM graduates led BHEF to launch its Securing America’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative, with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. STEM graduates.

What is the BHEF U.S. STEM Model?

The BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model, developed by Raytheon Company and gifted to BHEF in 2009, is the centerpiece of BHEF’s STEM Education & Modeling Project, which is designed to help increase the number of students who pursue majors and careers in STEM fields. The Model is a simulation model that incorporates census data and standardized test scores to track the flow of students through the K-16 education system and into careers in STEM teaching or STEM industries. The Model is free and available in open source for use by the public through www.stemnetwork.org, and is managed by a partnership among BHEF, Raytheon and The Ohio State University’s (OSU) Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy.

What is significant about the BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model?

The BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model is the first simulation model to examine the U.S. education system using system dynamics principles and tools. Specifically, the Model allows users to test various scenarios to determine whether they have the potential to increase the number of students choosing to major and graduate in STEM disciplines. Both the Model and the overall approach aims to foster the development of a knowledge base that allows the diverse community of stakeholders, including policymakers, funders and educators to examine a range of issues and potential solutions that focus on increasing interest and proficiency among students in STEM majors and careers, as well as to meet the dynamic needs of the STEM workforce.

Why is a STEM network important?

One of the persistent challenges facing all of education -- and STEM education in particular -- in the United States is the lack of coordination between policy-makers, programmers, researchers, funders, and other leaders around which strategies are most effective and can be replicated on a large scale.  The STEM network attempts to answer this need and provide the nation with a predictive model that can help identify intended, and unintended, consequences of specific policy choices.

What is Modeling and Simulation?

Modeling is an approach used to represent a system at a particular point in time or space while simulation allows manipulation of a model to study changes in interactions over time and space. If models can provide an adequate description of reality (validation), they can save time and money prior to implementation.

What is System Dynamics Modeling?

System Dynamics modeling approach is used to understand the behavior of a system over time. The approach is used to organize the problem and help determine the effectiveness of proposed solutions so that priorities could be set and guidance could be provided to practitioners and policy makers. The main focus of this approach is on the flow of feedback that occurs within a system and the system behaviors that result from these flows. System Dynamics Modeling can:

  • account for much more complexity than our mental models—allow us to simultaneously examine combinations of programs, policies, and practices;
  • simulate the effects of impacts and lags over time (you don’t have to wait years to see if something has the desired effect);
  • uncover potential unintended consequences;
  • eliminate the need to experiment on different players in the system to evaluate different programs.

What is Open Source?

Open source describes practices that promote access to the end product’s source materials. Open Source software provides a publicly available source code that makes it possible for anyone to use, change, and redistribute the software. The source code underlying the U.S STEM Education Model is available to users in open source and can be modified and redistributed under the open source definition.

What is Open Innovation?

Open innovation is a paradigm in which ongoing research results are openly shared across organizations to further innovation. It involves bringing together individuals with expertise in various disciplines to harness collective brainpower to solve problems. 

How can I get involved?

At the moment, the best way to involve yourself with the network is to join the Google Group set up for the SRMN. This Google application provides a space for a message board, document sharing, member profiles if desired, and other useful applications. The SRMN Google Group is open to all interested parties, but it does require an initial registration. Find the sign-in page and instructions here: http://groups.google.com/group/srmn.

What are the next steps?

As a result of the development and testing of the U.S STEM Education Model, BHEF and its partners plan to adapt it and extend the approach to examine other contexts and related issues. For example, BHEF and its partners, including Raytheon and Ohio State, are launching a State STEM Education Modeling Project that will adapt the existing national Model for use by states. In addition, OSU is applying the modeling approach to examine issues related to U.S academic and health sciences workforce.