In 1968 Stevens Institute of Technology created the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP) to “expand access to engineering and science to minorities” (Clark, 2000), and thus help increase the pool of underrepresented students in these fields. STEP was one of the first programs of its kind in the country; it was Stevens’ response to a national problem and reflected the university’s reputation for innovation.
Jess Davis, Stevens’ 4th President sought private funds to implement a program which would address the continued underrepresentation of African Americans, Latinos and low income students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). He enlisted the help of a group of concerned undergraduates and faculty members who responded by implementing STEP - a Saturday enrichment program and tutoring services for high school students from New York City, Hoboken, Jersey City and surrounding areas. The program contributed to helping these students acquire the skills and knowledge to be eligible for acceptance into competitive universities and technical majors. It also offered a path by which talented local high school students from underrepresented minority groups and low income families could be admitted to Stevens.
At its inception STEP was a pre-college program for high school students, but its history also has included additional components fully or partially funded by the Federal Government (TRIO Upward Bound Program), New Jersey government (Educational Opportunity Fund - EOF) and private donors, foundations, and corporations (Middle School Program, Accelerated Mathematics Program for high school juniors, and the Bridge and College Programs). Each component contributed to building a “continuous pipeline of support” for students.
Today the Bridge, College and EOF Programs continue STEP’s mission to help increase the pool of underrepresented minorities and low income students within the STEM fields, and also provide support to students from other diverse backgrounds. STEP is an important piece of Stevens past, present and future.