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Modeling and Evidence

To help meet the United States’ needs for college graduates with more robust skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), BHEF has pioneered the application of system dynamics modeling to better understand the U.S. STEM ecosystem.

System dynamics modeling offers insights for how business and higher education need to address the STEM workforce challenge.  For example, the the U.S. STEM Undergraduate Model (released in 2013) suggests that a focus on undergraduate education has the highest potential return on investment in developing the STEM workforce and that high-impact retention strategies in the first two years of college will have a greater effect on the STEM talent ecosystem than interventions later on. These insights can help shape what programs, interventions, and policies business and higher education support in their efforts to strengthen the STEM ecosystem.

More about each of BHEF's three system dynamics models are below.

Released in 2013: the U.S. STEM Undergraduate Model ®
The U.S. STEM Undergraduate Model suggests evidence-based pathways to scale the highest-leverage education strategies for increasing the STEM workforce.

  • It simulates the impact of policies and programs in K-12 and higher education on the number of STEM baccalaureate degrees.
  • It documents the low interest in STEM careers among college-ready 12th graders and the high drop-out rate from STEM majors.
  • It acts as a strategic tool for sharpening investments in evidence-based practices in higher education to produce additional STEM undergraduates.
  • It targets interventions on groups most likely to leave STEM majors during the first two years of undergraduate study.

Decision-makers can use the tool to simulate the impact of singular and combined strategies to improve STEM education.

Earlier Models and Research

The U.S. STEM Education Model ®
BHEF’s original application of system dynamics was developed in 2007 through the leadership of BHEF member William H. Swanson, chairman and CEO of Raytheon. Swanson commissioned a team of Raytheon engineers to create the first-of-its-kind system dynamics model to help policymakers, educators, and researchers map the complex structure of the U.S. STEM education system and identify potential solutions that could help strengthen student outcomes in STEM. Raytheon’s engineers created the first generation of the model, which the company donated to BHEF in 2009.
Run the model on Forio.

Learn and Earn Model ®
This system dynamics model is designed to explore the effect of employer and postsecondary education partnerships, also known as "Learn and Earn" programs, on workforce outcomes, along with a case study describing the project.  This innovative model enables users to explore how current workload, desired workforce expansion, and participation in Learn and Earn programs affect workforce composition, employee productivity, and employer benefits, employing a tool rarely used in analyzing education and workforce issues.  
Run the model on Forio.