Smart Start: Designing Impact-driven Projects

Designing Impact-driven Projects I-Corps™ L Opening Workshop - Classroom Picture. Cohort: 2016 Washington, DC Metro Area

About the Course

ASEE’s Smart Start is a two-week course for researchers and innovators who are passionate about taking their STEM education vision to the next level –but don’t quite know how to get there. This course will give you a convenient, low-barrier introduction to making your research available to the public. When you accept the challenge, you will:

  • Connect with leading experts in the fields of education and innovation, as well as like-minded peers.
  • Learn how to develop an effective proof-of-concept, saving time and resources.
  • Awaken your inner entrepreneur.
  • Learn more about innovation programs like NSF I-Corps™ and I-Corps™ for Learning (I-Corps™ L) and how to get involved.

Is Smart Start for Us?

  • Pre-requisites

    Smart Start is for faculty, program administrators, and graduate students interested in promoting learning in STEM at all levels (e.g., P-12, undergraduate and graduate education, and in the STEM workforce), and settings (e.g., formal and informal).

    Preference will be given to teams of two or three participants, with evidence supporting their project, product, or program, e.g., documented learning outcomes, and any proof of concept data (implementation results). All-student teams are welcome.

    No prior NSF funding is required.

  • Time commitment

    Participants will conduct interviews with prospective users, learn how to plan for impact-driven research using a model proven successful with new innovations, and meet with course instructors to discuss progress and next steps. To gain the full experience of this two-week couse each participant will need to commit 15-20 hours to completing readings, videos, interviews and assignments.

  • Free course

    Smart Start is offered free of charge thanks to the support of the National Science Foundation under grant DUE-1355431. Unlike I-Corps™ and I-Corps™ L, acceptance in Smart Start does not include supplemental funding; participants are responsible for covering any required travel expenses to attend the face-to-face kick-off workshop in National Harbor, MD (see dates below).

How To Apply?

  1. Check eligibility (see the "Is Smart Start for Us?" section above). 
  2. Prepare an online application (preview applicaton form) that addresses the following:
    • Brief description of your STEM learning innovation.
    • Summary of evidence supporting innovation (e.g. documented learning outcomes) and any proof of concept data (implementation results).
    • List of (up to three) team members, including their connection with the innovation (e.g., principal investigator, graduate student researcher, etc.).
    • Confirmation of team members’ willingness to commit to the two-week course, including attending all meetings and conducting customer discovery interviews.
  3. Submit your application at:



Emeritus Professor,
University of Minnesota
Professor, Purdue University

DEAN CHANGRussell Korte,

Associate Professor,
Human and Organizational Learning
George Washington University

Questions? Contact ASEE Education and Career Development staff at



COURSE I: Online (February 17 – March 5, 2018)

  • Application Period: October 25 – November 23, 2017 Extended to January 5, 2018
  • Acceptance Notification: January 12, 2018
  • Kick-off Workshop (Online): February 17, 2018, 9 AM – 5 PM ET
  • Office Hours (Online): Two one-hour sessions (arranged with instructors)
  • Closing Workshop (Online):March 5, 2018, 1 PM – 4 PM ET

COURSE II: Blended (March 17 – April 2, 2018)

  • Application Period: November 22 – January 22, 2018
  • Acceptance Notification: January 29, 2018
  • Kick-off Workshop (National Harbor, MD): March 17, 2018, 9 AM – 5 PM ET
  • Office Hours (Online): Two one-hour sessions (arranged with instructors)
  • Closing Workshop (Online): April 2, 2018, 1 PM – 4 PM ET