Brown STEAM (formally known as STEM + Art) is a student organization aimed at breaking down disciplinary barriers through projects, workshops, and events. Our scope isn't limited to just STEM and Visual Arts, though - we take on projects that transcend the barriers between all disciplines.
context + goals
STEAM has always done cool things. In recent years, however, project completion rates have fallen, along with student interest and satisfaction with the club.
As one of the co-presidents for the 2018-19 year, my major focus was a structural reorganization that aimed at providing a better sense of community and experience for members of the group and increased project completion rates.
type - student organization
length - May 2018 / May 2019
role - co-president
process + development
During the summer of 2018, my co-president and I aggressively tackled the question, "How do we make STEAM better?"
To solve this wicked problem filled with subjectivity and nuance, we had to break it up into more addressable smaller questions. A few of these included:
Why did we (the current members of the group) join STEAM in the first place?
Why were people not finishing projects?
Why was there a lot of interest in STEAM but very little commitment?
How do we "do" STEAM?
We started investigating these questions by setting regular check-ins with all of our group members. As we talked about their experiences in STEAM and their thoughts on the reorganization, two things became apparent:
Members of the internal team didn't feel like they had ownership of the club because most of the management work was handled by the co-presidents
The people passionate enough about STEAM to follow through and complete projects were the ones that ended up joining the internal team. The rest of the people who interact with STEAM tend to think it's a cool concept, but not something they're willing to interact with a organizational commitment level
With these understandings in mind, we decided to scale back the organization to allow focus on projects within the internal group, and creating workshops and events for the larger STEAM-interested Brown community.
A detailed overview of the new structure can be found on the official update on Brown STEAM's Medium page. It's particularly worth a read for those who are interested in effective team management and community building (...and because it includes the totally cool illustrations I made on the right). This isn't it for STEAM's development, though. If there's one thing this process has taught us, it's that there never will be final perfection, so we need a flexible structure that's continuously improving.
1. STEAM banner during a student Activities Fair // 2. An assortment of stickers I have designed for STEAM over the years // 3. The "STEAM is..." GIF we used during general body meetings, based off actual projects and events that happened through Brown STEAM // 4. Illustrated infographic explaining what being on the STEAM team means // 5. Illustrated inforgraphic explaining how the general Brown public interacts with STEAM