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Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE)

Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to transform Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) into a nationally recognized undergraduate research institution, and a model in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Mentoring of undergraduates and pre-college students by research mentors was the cornerstone of the MIE Project. Dr. Arratia was the Principal Investigator of the MIE grant at UMET. We believe that creative research is one of the best ways to prepare students to become persistent and successful in college, graduate school and professional careers. Today, the Student Research Development Center (SRDC), which is part of the Scientific Caribbean Foundation (SCF), is the entity that continues the MIE strategy by impacting pre-college and university students from institutions in Puerto Rico, across the nation and abroad. Saturday Research Academy (SRA) is a part of MIE that SCF continues to impact and make the next generation of researchers ready.


The MIE ended in 2009 at UMET. The outcome of the program was over 280 UMET STEM-C majors completed their BS degrees and 175 were transferred to graduate school, with 65 achieving doctoral status (PhD, MD, VVM, Pharm D). To increase the number of BS degrees transferred to graduate school, we will continue with the strategy of an early research program and partnership with key research institutions in Puerto Rico, the US mainland and abroad. Research mentoring will be the principal component of the knowledge transfer and creative thinking activities at SCF. Project based learning, collaborative learning strategies, presentations at scientific conferences, scientific writing and co-authorship, technology literacy, and preparation for graduate school are activities that are transforming the philosophy of competitive institutions.

MIE  Saturday Research Academy


The concept of research experiences for pre-college students was initiated by Dr. Juan F. Arratia, during his tenure as Director and Principal Investigator of the Model Institution for Excellence (MIE), a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at Universidad Metropolitana (UMET), San Juan, Puerto Rico from 1998 until 2008. After more than twenty years of funding by NSF Dr. Arratia impacted and mentored more than 4,000 high school students from public and private school, across Puerto Rico. The Saturday Research Academy was really successful in producing a pipeline from pre-college-undergraduate to graduate school using research as the tool to motivate thousands of pre-college students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science (STEM-C) fields.

Saturday Research Academy (SRA) Program 

The program is a semester long program (16 weeks), starting with meetings on Saturdays at 9:00 AM, Puerto Rico Time Dr. Arratia, and research assistants, with research experience in Puerto Rico and US research institutions will help the participants to explore and implement the steps of the research cycle (state the problem, research information, produce a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, analyze data and draw conclusions) within specific STEM-C projects. During the research process the participants will work in individual research projects, learn search techniques, read scientific papers, as well as how to design abstracts and professional poster or oral presentations. Dr. Arratia and research assistants will be responsible for guiding the students on how to conduct research in an ethical way. Orientation sessions in career in STEM-C fields and critical thinking training will be given to students during the semester long program. All the participants will report to Dr. Arratia by e-mail, in English, on a weekly basis, reporting their progress in their weekly meetings and advances in their research projects. The design of a competitive poster must include the following segments: title, abstract, introduction, material/methods, results, references, acknowledgments and further information. A Pre-College Research Symposium will be held the last Saturday of the program, where the participants will present the projects worked during the semester to the high school community. A Symposium Proceeding will be edited by Dr. Arratia containing all the abstracts of the participants. The Symposium Proceedings will be available at the Foundation webpage.

Congratulations! The U.S. Department of State is excited to share that your proposal has been selected as a finalist for the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund!   

The selection committee is proud to provide funding to "STEM-C Research Skills for Success" to bolster democratic principles through promoting media literacy education; building community through art, sports, language, and technology; bolstering outreach to underserved communities; fostering alumni network development; and protecting the environment.

The Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund is implemented in collaboration with our partner organization, Partners of the Americas.  They will be your main contact moving forward and over the next few days, they will provide you with the necessary administrative information and next steps on how to proceed with your grant award.  Note that you will not receive funding until all administrative documentation is complete.  


Again, congratulations on developing an outstanding project proposal. The Department of State and Partners of the Americas are proud to support our exchange alumni. You are truly leaders in building bridges of understanding that strengthen our country and our world. 

We will be in touch soon with updates and the next steps.

All the best,   


The Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Team  

Paul Garr, U.S. Department of State  

Maia Moore, Partners of the Americas  


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MIE Publications

Fulbright Visiting Scholar 2004 -2023
MIE SEGMENTS I (Pre-College Reserach Symposim)
MIE SEGMENTS II (Bridge to Graduate School)
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Winter 2015 Pre-College Research Symposium
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