The Lemelson-MIT Program today announced the appointment of Stephanie Couch as executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. Couch brings 16 years of experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education policy; research, development, and deployment; and strategic fundraising. In her new role, she will oversee the development and growth of partnerships and guide Lemelson-MIT’s prestigious invention award and grant programs.
“Couch’s leadership experience in education and passion for invention and STEM education make her an ideal executive director,” said Michael Cima, faculty director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “Dr. Couch’s appointment will greatly help Lemelson-MIT increase the national discussion about invention’s role in education and prosperity.”
The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. The program administers the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding mid-career inventor, and the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, which honors promising collegiate inventors across the country. The program’s invention education initiatives include InvenTeams, a national grants initiative for high school students, educators, and mentors to invent technological solutions to real-world problems; and JV InvenTeams, a program for students in grades 7-10 to hone their hands-on skills and enrich their STEM education through invention-based design activities.
“Invention education takes the progress we have been making over the last five years in STEM education to a new level. It creates exciting opportunities for young people to apply new knowledge in ways that can make a difference in the world,” said Couch. “By recognizing mid-career inventors and college students who have profound inventive accomplishments, young people see role models who can inspire them to greatness.”
Couch previously drove research and professional development as the interim associate vice president at California State University, East Bay and served as Bayer executive director of the Institute for STEM Education and the director for Gateways East Bay STEM Network at California State University at East Bay. Couch also helped design and launch the statewide California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet). She has won numerous awards for her leadership role in advancing STEM education in California. Most recently, she was selected as one of San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business for 2016 and inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in the education category. In 2015, she received the Biotechnology Educator of the Year Award from California Life Sciences Association. She will join the Lemelson-MIT Program July 11.