The Center for BioMolecular Modeling (CBM) at Milwaukee School of Engineering has been awarded $540,000 by the National Science Foundation to extend the CREST Program for an additional three years. The CREST program (Connecting Researchers, Educators and STudents) engages undergraduate students in collaborative projects with science researchers and educators to transform current research topics into innovative instructional materials that can be used in undergraduate classrooms. This latest grant is the third in a series of awards to the CBM, made by the National Science Foundation in support of its efforts to transform undergraduate education into a more active, student-centered pedagogy.

In the CREST program, an undergraduate educator identifies a “difficult to teach” concept, then works with a small team of students to explore the topic in depth. The team is paired with a research lab studying a protein related to the topic. The team then visits the research lab to learn more about the topic, and then designs and builds a physical model of the protein using 3D printing technology at the CBM. Students create posters and give oral presentations at an annual Research and Teaching Symposium hosted at MSOE. After models are built, students collaborate with educators to develop instructional materials related to the topic, including interactive tutorials, puzzles, and molecular landscapes.

Currently, 35 faculty members at 22 institutions are involved in the CREST Project. Many of the materials developed as part of the project are available online (cbm.msoe.edu/crest) or through the MSOE Model Lending Library, which loans approximately 400 models to educators throughout the US each year.

The Center for BioMolecular Modeling is a grants-funded instructional materials development laboratory which collaborates with researchers and educators to bring current research related to the molecular biosciences into middle school through college classrooms.

MSOE is an independent, non-profit university with about 2,500 students celebrating its 110th anniversary. MSOE offers 20 bachelor’s degrees and nine master’s degrees in engineering, business, mathematics and nursing. The university has a national academic reputation; longstanding ties to business and industry; dedicated professors with real-world experience; a 94% placement rate; and the highest average starting and mid-career salaries of any Wisconsin university according to PayScale Inc. MSOE graduates are well-rounded, technologically experienced and highly productive professionals and leaders.