Project Profile

Science, Technology and Engineering Mini-business Incubator (STEM-Inc)


This project innovatively aims to motivate early teens to pursue careers in engineering and computer science through an afterschool program. This program combines these subjects with business entrepreneurship by engaging students in designing computer science and engineering products. Students will learn not only about these subjects, but also about the design process and business. The design process will be guided by two principles--intelligent fast failure and lean start-up--which emphasize planning for and capitalizing on short feedback loops. These principles highlight the notion that creating successful products is less a matter of getting it right the first time and more a matter of seeking feedback and revising until success is achieved. More broadly, these principles focus on key 21st century skills--persistence in the face of failure and learning from feedback. The project aims to recruit girls and underrepresented group members to participate and will take place in a mostly low-income population. It is an ideal project for ITEST because its impact has strong potential to broaden participation in engineering and computer science by connecting these to entrepreneurship and business.
This project will create a mini technology business 'incubator' in an afterschool program for 7th and 8th grade students. It is a collaboration involving Cal State Fullerton's colleges of engineering and computer science, business and economics, and education; and the Anaheim Union High School District. The three-year after-school program will be run by participating teachers, college student mentors (one from business/economics, one from computer science/engineering), and student peer leaders (8 at each of 4 sites). It will be held twice a week for two hours each session. About 40 students will participate at each of four sites (160 total each year). It will include: preparatory training for teachers, college student mentors and peer leaders; afterschool activities; field trips; industry advisors; parent participation and project showcase. As a design and development project, research questions frame formative data collection and analysis to address aspects of the design that are succeeding and others that require revision. Summative measures focus on what teachers and students learn, as well as attitudes toward science and engineering and self-efficacy.


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Principal Investigator(s)
Primary Contact


Award Number
Project Duration
2014 - 2018
California State University-Fullerton Foundation, Fullerton, CA
Project Work State
Target Gradespan(s)
Middle school (6-8)
Project Setting(s)
Informal Education
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Additional Disciplines
Engineering - general
Additional Target Participants
Hispanic or Latino