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New Mexico State University

Reinventing STEM Teaching

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Enrico Pontelli knows that making K-12 science and math lessons more exciting is key to sparking greater interest and participation. The computer science professor developed DISSECT (DIScover SciEnce through Computational Thinking), a program that infuses traditional STEM coursework with computational thinking as a dynamic instrument of scientific reasoning and problem solving.

DISSECT places NMSU graduate students in the classroom, where they help increase teachers' effectiveness in science, technology, engineering and math coursework.

Pontelli's team researches the best ways to use computational thinking and computational methods in the context of existing STEM courses. Through DISSECT, graduate students see their research in action as children's interest and performance improve. At the same time, our students improve their ability to effectively communicate science to a broad and diverse audience of young students, teachers and researchers.


  • $1M researcher
  • S.P. Manasse and Margaret Manasse Endowed Fund Scholar award
  • Best Paper award, “CLP-based Protein Fragment Assembly”, ICLP 2010 (Edinburgh)
  • First Place, Non-Deterministic Track, 6th Annual International Planning Competition (IPC-6)
  • College of Arts & Sciences Award for Excellence in Outreach
  • NMSU University Research Council Award for Creative Scholarly Activities
  • National Science Foundation CAREER award
  • The Donald C. Roush Excellence in Teaching Award

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Enrico Pontelli is the head of the Computer Science Department and a professor of computer science at New Mexico State University’s College of Arts & Sciences. He received a Laurea in Computer Science from the University of Udine, his master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Houston and his doctorate in Computer Science from NMSU.


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