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About #uifresh Uifresh-web.jpg

#uifresh is a community of University Innovation Fellows, students, faculty and administrators who are engaging first-year university students in innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, design thinking and more. These activities can take the form of short workshops, innovation weeks, mentor programs, tours of innovation spaces, scavenger hunts and more.

Members of the #uifresh community share best practices of how to engage first years, lessons learned from hosting events, and ideas for activities tested at our schools. The earlier students take advantage of resources around innovation and entrepreneurship on campus, the more likely they are to continue to engage with those resources during their time at the university.


The #uifresh (University Innovation Freshmen) initiative was launched by Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows in March 2015 as part of a White House collection of initiatives during the 5th Annual White House Science Fair. Leaders and Fellows from 10 schools committed to exposing incoming students at their schools to entrepreneurship, design thinking, creativity and innovation as part of freshmen orientation.A report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (below) indicates that 60% of U.S. freshmen (in aggregate) who arrive to college intending to major in STEM change majors to non-STEM disciplines. The report also cites the importance of a student experience that is both intellectually and personally engaging and fosters “identification with a STEM field.” This can be established by connecting freshmen with a community of STEM professionals, and fostering meaningful relationships with both peers and instructors --- i.e. YOU.

#uifresh was spearheaded in March 2015, in honor the 5th Annual White House Science Fair, by 10 University Innovation Fellows schools. By partnering with Epicenter’s Pathways to Innovation Program for faculty in August 2015, #uifresh doubled the number of schools to 20. Members of both of these programs believe that early exposure to entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and design thinking are powerful tools to engage and retain STEM students.

View the White House announcement here.

PCAST Report: “Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates With Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Tripled Community for 1 Year Anniversary!

March 2016 marked the #uifresh community's one year anniversary working toward engaging freshmen across the U.S. The 6th and final White House Science Fair was held on April 13, 2016. The schools that joined the initiative since March 2015 were also highlighed as part of a collection initiatives to expand high-quality STEM education opportunities in the White House fact sheet. Read Epicenter's press release announcing the schools that joined.*

*Please note that Ohio Northern University joined two weeks after this announcement to equal 30 schools.

Fall 2015 Activity

20 Colleges & University Launch Innovative Orientation Acitivities to Retain STEM Students

Twenty higher education institutions are welcoming their incoming students in a unique way as part of a national STEM initative called #uifresh. Participating institutions are exposing freshmen to design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation in order to attract and retain more students in STEM disciplines. 

10 institutions joined the initiative in March 2015:

Original Press Release from Epicenter

University Innovation Fellows launch #uifresh campaign to attract and retain first-year students to STEM majors. 

First 10 schools to commit to #uifresh: