MentorNet Utilizes Donated Software to Boost Science and Engineering Students
Only half of the students who enter science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) education programs ever graduate in those fields. However, mentoring can greatly help retain students within the STEM pipeline. Interacting with accomplished professionals helps students stay motivated within their field and graduate. MentorNet was founded in 1997 by Dr. Carol Muller and has since expanded to help those in more than 70 science, engineering, and technical fields. MentorNet furthers the progress of women and others underrepresented in STEM fields through the use of a dynamic technology-supported mentoring network. The organization matches students, postdocs, and early career researchers in engineering and science to professionals in their field for one-on-one guided relationships.
MentorNet has a very small staff and needed to find a way to utilize a small workforce in the most efficient way possible. By leveraging a highly automated proprietary platform that runs on Microsoft technology, MentorNet has managed to make more than 23,000 matches between mentors in the field and student proteges since its inception. Using Microsoft technologies, MentorNet was able to create a web interface for participant registration and profile entry, Intranet-based client service management tools, and web-based reporting tools, allowing the organization to effectively support more than 6,000 concurrent participants with a staff of only five during the year. The impact of the program has been clear. Proteges are 55 percent women and 60 percent underrepresented minorities. Ninety-three percent of these proteges remain in their STEM fields three years after completing the program. Ninety-one percent would recommend the program to another student. A majority (52 percent) express interest in, apply for, or land a job with their mentors' companies.