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Stevens Institute of Technology is Punching Above its Weight

Stevens Institute of Technology has been innovating since it was founded in 1870 as the first school of mechanical engineering in the United States.  

Fast-forward 150 years and Stevens is continuing its legacy of innovation. Historic high-water marks were reached in graduate and undergraduate applications, enrollment and admissions selectivity, research funding, the size of the faculty cohort, student diversity, and graduate outcomes — even in a challenging post-pandemic environment. And year over year, these records continue to be broken. 

Students can take advantage of education and research collaborations with Google, IBM, UBS, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, and numerous other prestigious organizations. Since 2011, Stevens has doubled its sponsored-research awards. Recent wins include the acquisition of a Stevens-affiliated quantum venture by a NASDAQ-listed quantum software leader. The university’s leading quantum science researcher, Yuping Huang, recently celebrated this achievement by ringing the bell at NASDAQ.  

“We have been punching above our weight for more than a decade,” notes President Nariman Farvardin. “We are tackling some of the most important and challenging problems of our time — in healthcare and medicine, brain research, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, quantum science, financial technologies, renewable energy, and more.”  

“We are smaller than most national research universities, yet our impact is mighty.”  

CRAFTing Fintech for the Future

Financial markets and operations have transformed during the digital era. In response, Stevens led the way by creating partnerships with global financial companies, government, higher education, and tech leaders to develop new technologies that advance high-speed trading, market modeling and stress-testing, equities forecasting, and financial cybersecurity.  

In 2021, Stevens took another giant step forward in fintech, creating and co-leading with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the Center for Research toward Advancing Financial Technologies (or CRAFT). CRAFT is the first and only National Science Foundation-supported industry-university research center focused on fintech.   

Powered by the university’s cutting-edge Hanlon Financial Systems Center, CRAFT has already engaged global financial partners and funded early fintech research on issues such as the fairness of mortgage-lending decisions and the potential application of quantum technologies in the creation of automated portfolio management tools.  

“This is more than an academic initiative,” says Steve Yang, CRAFT director. “CRAFT is a community of experts providing actionable insights to financial corporations and government agencies.”   

Rebooting the traditional MBA

Stevens is also at the forefront of a new national push to modernize U.S. business-school curricula, including those made for MBA and management programs.  

The university created and began leading an initiative known as MaCuDE (Management Curriculum for the Digital Era). Working with more than 100 partnering academic institutions — including Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USC Marshall, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, Hankamer School of Business at Baylor, D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern, and GW School of Business at the University of Georgia — and with the generous financial and research support of the leading financial and consulting firm PwC, MaCuDE is drawing a road map for the future of business education.  

“The future belongs to MBAs who can code,” observes Stevens School of Business Dean Gregory Prastacos. “We are in a unique position at Stevens, as a business school within a technology university, to shape the conversation about the future of business education.”  

The next phase of the MaCuDE project, which is also supported by AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the accrediting organization for business schools), will involve a comprehensive survey of financial industry leaders.  

ACES: Outreach, support to diversify STEM

ACES (Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science) is another key Stevens initiative created to support and encourage diversity in STEM education. The ACES program has been bringing regional high school students to campus since 2017, in-person and virtually, to give them a taste of college life and STEM.   

The program includes sustained outreach to traditionally underserved high schools, students, and communities. It also offers significant scholarship support for participants in the ACES pre-college summer program and Stevens undergraduates from underserved communities, as well as a robust new summer dual-enrollment program.  

This pilot dual-enrollment program launched in the summer of 2022 with 60 rising high school juniors and seniors taking three synchronous virtual courses from Stevens faculty for college credit. Three-quarters of that inaugural class were women, and three-quarters identified as Hispanic/Latino or Black.  

“Women and some communities remain underrepresented in STEM, and we are working to change this with initiatives such as Stevens ACES and the new dual-enrollment program,” says David Zeng, Stevens Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Faculty Affairs.  

ACES has received philanthropic support from corporate partners and private donors, while the dual-enrollment program is supported by New Jersey’s Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge Grant. In September 2022, through the endorsement of Congressman Albio Sires, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the ACES initiative an additional $750,000. 

PLANS FOR CONTINUED GROWTH AND PROGRESS​

Additional collaborative leadership efforts are also underway.  

Since 2008, for instance, Stevens has led the ambitious multi-university research consortium known as SERC (Systems Engineering Research Center) — with participation from academic partners including MIT, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Purdue, USC, UVA, UMass, and Texas A&M. The center has received more than $100 million in federal funding support to date for projects in Artificial Intelligence, acquisition, climate change, data analytics, quantum science, space-mission operations, and other important fields.  

Now, as Stevens embarks upon its new 10-year strategic plan, Stevens 2032: Inspired by Humanity, Powered by Technology, President Farvardin emphasizes that the university will continue to build upon recent successes — record application numbers, a new $256 million University Center Complex — while also expanding its research enterprise and enhancing student services, such as Stevens’ comprehensive wellness initiatives that received the Active Minds Healthy Campus Award in 2022.  

The university will continue to seek, create, and lead productive high-impact collaborations with other institutions of higher learning, government agencies, and corporate partners, says Farvardin. These collaborations will enable Stevens to continue supplying a talented workforce to our innovation-based economy, deliver research to industry and solve critical societal challenges.  

“Stevens is poised to make consequential contributions that materially improve the lives and futures of our region, our nation, and our global community,” he concludes. “The best is still to come.”  

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