Sarita Pillai



An experienced program manager whose work supports increased access to, and diversity in, STEM fields, Sarita Pillai works to engage youth who are typically underrepresented in STEM fields and to help young people build STEM skills and careers. She has led national, multi-year STEM initiatives funded by the National Science Foundation that provide technical support, dissemination, and outreach to better prepare a diverse, skilled, and innovative STEM workforce.

During her career at EDC, Pillai has worked to support middle school educators and students, conducted research on youth engagement with Web-based STEM materials, and examined the role of gender and equity in education. She has collaborated with dozens of education partners, including the National Middle School Association, Ohio State University, the National Science Digital Library, SRI International, Lawrence Hall of Science, Digital Promise, and the Exploratorium.

Pillai holds a BS in computer science from Northeastern University and an MBA from Bentley University.

“It is important to build resilience in youth to face the inevitable obstacles they will encounter on their ‘STEM journey.’ This involves helping students anticipate barriers to their success and equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to address challenges.”

Speaking Highlights

Research on Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers: Findings from the NSF ITEST Program

2017 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference
Salt Lake City, UT
October 21, 2017

NSF STEM Funding Opportunities and Insights Into NSF Proposal Development

2017 AISES National Conference
Denver, CO
September 21, 2017

Writing Successful STEM Proposals: A Guide to Two National Science Foundation Programs

Workshop, SACNAS National Conference
National Harbor, MD
October 2015

Designing Programs that Engage, Motivate, and Interest Youth to Pursue STEM Careers across the NSF-Funded ITEST Program

National Association for Research in Science Teaching Symposium Session
Chicago, IL

Fostering Student Motivation and Achievement—Research to Practice and Lessons Learned from the ITEST Program

Massachusetts STEM Summit
Worcester, MA

Selected Publications

Malyn-Smith, J., Blustein, D., Pillai, S., Parker, C. E., Gutowski, E., & Diamonti, A. J. (2017). Building the foundational skills needed for success in work at the human-technology frontier. Waltham, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.

Parker, C. E., Pillai, S. K., & Roschelle, J. (2016). Next generation STEM learning for all: A report from the NSF supported forum. Waltham, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.

Pillai, S., Parker, C., & Na’im, A. (2013). Advancing research on youth motivation in stem: A report on the NSF ITEST convening. Waltham, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.

Hanson, K., Guilfoy, V., & Pillai, S. (2009). More than title IX: How equity in education has shaped the nation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Selected Resources


The proliferation of new technologies is changing the way we live, learn, and work. This white paper examines the complex and interconnected challenges related to workforce development, economics, education, equity, and ethics that our society must address to ensure our workforce is future-ready.


This paper presents EDC’s findings from the case studies of three National Science Foundation-funded STEM projects involving successful youth co-design team activities.


This data brief from the STEM Learning and Research Center (STELAR) describes some of the steps being taken by the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and T


EDC led the development of SMARTR, a website of free math and science “virtual learning experiences” (VLEs) for middle-grades students.