CIESE was founded in 1988 to improve K-12 science and mathematics education through the use of technology. Drawing upon Stevens’ years of experience as the first college in the country to require students to own a computer (1982), early CIESE programs utilized mathematics “tool” software for exploration of mathematical concepts.

Over thirty years of leadership in STEM education

When Dr. Edward Friedman founded CIESE in 1988, computers and the Internet were just emerging into public view and had little role in K-12 education. Ed and his Stevens colleagues looked around the curve and saw potential. They also knew that students’ success and innovation in science, technology engineering and mathematics at the university level depended on their prior experience. They embraced “new technologies” and the responsibility to influence pre-college education.

Even before the World Wide Web went public in 1991, CIESE staff engaged teachers in using computer-based software applications to support mathematics learning. Then, with grants from the National Science Foundation’s Networking Infrastructure in Education Program and the US Department of Education’s Technology Innovation Challenge Grant, among others, CIESE provided tens of thousands of teachers in the U.S. and other countries with ground-breaking professional development to learn how to use unique and compelling Internet-based curriculum materials to support science and math learning.

When Beth McGrath assumed leadership of CIESE in 2004, she looked around the curve again. What she saw was potential and a void. While the waves of NSF-funded science and mathematics programs had provided the catalyst for active student investigation of the natural world, learning about engineering and technology remained absent from most students school experiences. CIESE embraced engineering education as a new educational frontier. Through a series of state, federal and private grants CIESE developed and introduced curricula and provided professional development for thousands of teachers in learning how to engage their students in engineering design activities. (Video: CIESE Educates the Engineers of the Future)

Well into its third decade, CIESE continues its focus on science, engineering and mathematics teaching and learning, but with a subtle shift. When Arthur Camins served as CIESE Director from 2011-2016, he saw the growing demand to develop transferable knowledge and deep teaching expertise. The CIESE staff recognized that the emphases in new standards on integration of science, engineering and mathematical practices and conceptual knowledge development, required CIESE to make a significant investment in understanding the complexity of improving teaching and learning. In addition, CIESE extended its research to support Stevens’ efforts to improve undergraduate teaching.

Current research and development work focuses on investigating explicit science and engineering learning connections and high leverage practices, such as modeling and explanation.