The Resource Center for Science and Engineering envisioned the need to create an agile and flexible structure that had sufficient freedom from the confines of traditional institutional cultures to innovate, and the capacity to establish effective working relationships among diverse organizations to forge alliances that pool the best resources across institutional boundaries to achieve their main common goals: the island wide reform of the STEM educational system and the development of a research infrastructure. Because of their nature, these goals lie outside those of the individual institutions.
To undertake this challenge, the RCSE was designed as a virtual organization that would serve as a catalytic agent for innovation. The salient characteristic of the RCSE as a virtual organization is that it is delocalized in space and time: the human resources needed to achieve its goals are distributed among the diverse institutional settings, while the strategic planning, coordination of efforts and communication links across institutional boundaries allow for the orchestration of a coherent strategy.
As a virtual organization, the RCSE orchestrates the systemic strategy at a macro level, forging the necessary alliances among institutions and players at all levels. The system is treated as a whole, with special attention given to the interactions and feedback between subsystems, identifying and targeting the weak or missing connections among the system’s elements. In “operational terms” the RCSE functions with a core facility that houses a “skeleton crew” of experts who serve as advisors, coordinators and facilitators of the major systemic reform initiatives to ensure institutional change. The RCSE provides resources to institutions to ensure the time and expertise needed to experiment with innovations and to measure the results of their efforts as a foundation for the expansion and institutionalization of change. One of the key roles of the RCSE is to facilitate access to the current knowledge base of best practices and innovations in education available at the national and international level, and their transfer and adaptation to the local context. To facilitate communication and interactions among the institutions and partners, the RCSE makes use of modern technology, such as e-mail, Internet, videoconferencing.