Frederick CREST Approved by Maryland Higher Education Commission

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Frederick Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST) Wins Approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission

CREST - the Frederick Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology - received approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) for their regional higher education center that will be located in Frederick.

The mission of CREST is to provide a Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)-based research and education hub in Frederick that enhances access to graduate degree and graduate certificate programs to meet the workforce and economic development needs of regional employers.

Governor Hogan signed the bill that created CREST into law on May 12, 2015. Subsequent to the bill’s passage, CREST was required to apply to MHEC for approval to operate in the state. CREST’s application was submitted on September 8, the review period spanned from September 15 to October 15, and MHEC communicated its decision on November 6.

“CREST will be a major economic driver in the Frederick region and in the State; it will provide access to academic resources that can help to create an identifiable and sustainable workforce pipeline in order to retain and grow existing STEM employers and to attract additional employers to the state,” said Sue Houghton, Planning Director for Frederick CREST.

CREST has already tapped Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland College Park as academic partners to provide the inaugural programs at CREST in Fall of 2016. Initially, three programs will be offered: M.S. in Bioinformatics and M.S. in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins, and a Masters of Chemical and Life Sciences from UMCP.

To date, CREST has received critical funding from both Frederick County and Frederick City; however, the majority of funding for CREST has come from private contributions from the Frederick STEM business community. As an approved regional higher education center, CREST will begin to receive funding from the state as of FY17. As there is a gap between the date of CREST’s approval and FY17, which begins on July 1, 2016, CREST is now entering a pivotal period. “We will continue to reach out to our business community and STEM employers to maintain the critical flow of support that we received during our initial stage,” Houghton said. “The next phase for CREST will be the finalization of long and short term strategic growth plans and the development of the operational policies and academic partnerships intrinsic to CREST’s success. Ongoing support from private businesses, local government, and the community is essential for us to maintain momentum.”

Frederick County and Frederick City have provided funds to support CREST in FY16. The County has provided $25,000 and the City recently contributed $15,203 for CREST. Additional tax deductible contributions for CREST are currently being accepted through the Frederick County Community Foundation and can be made online at: http://www.FrederickCountyGives.org , the CREST fund.

The establishment of Frederick CREST is a response to unmet educational needs demonstrated and supported by Maryland’s 2014 Frederick County Needs Assessment on Education. It is also driven by increasing demand from area STEM employers for local, high level, industry driven educational options for existing employees and a sustainable workforce pipeline to recruit highly educated, uniquely qualified candidates for their open positions.

“A higher education center, with advanced science and technology offerings right here in our community, will mean so very much to our employees and the work they do to fight cancer,” said David Heimbrook, Ph.D., President of Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. and Chairman of the Frederick CREST Governing Board. “Science and technology are fast-moving fields, which is why continuing education and professional development are so important. As one of the area’s largest employers, Leidos Biomed appreciates everything that the Maryland Higher Education Commission has done to help make this education center a reality.”

One of CREST’s strongest supporters is Senator Barbara Mikulski who sees a wealth of opportunity in the initiative. “If Maryland is going to compete in the 21st century global economy, we need to train a workforce today for the high-skill, high-tech jobs of tomorrow,” said Senator Mikulski. “Building a Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology is exactly the sort of bold concept we need to make sure the nation’s most advanced companies will always find the smart, skilled workers they need right here in Frederick County, Maryland” she said. “I’m proud to lend my support for CREST, and I look forward to everything it will do for the I-270 and I-70 corridors.”

County Executive Jan Gardner has embraced CREST as an educational and economic driver for Frederick County. “When I talk to Frederick County businesses about what they need from local government, their answer is a workforce pipeline of well-educated and trained workers. CREST is critical to meeting this need particularly for our growing life science and biotech industry. Our economic development depends on our collective ability to provide an educated workforce.”

CREST classroom instruction will be combined with experiential laboratory work in local world-class labs staffed by top researchers. This hands-on experience and introduction to the culture of how professionals do business will give CREST students the opportunity to develop relationships with potential employers and other researchers, and will use the “classrooms to careers” model to help students find a rewarding position in the local area.

"Creating a higher education center in Frederick is a goal for many of our world-class biotechnology firms and other employers,” said Elizabeth Cromwell, President and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. “CREST will create a pathway from our middle and high-school classrooms into higher education, then into high-quality positions that are often not being filled by homegrown talent. The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce sees the implementation of this program as key to the success of our member companies, and tremendously important to the overall growth of our economy."
The Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools and the Presidents of Frederick Community College, Hood College, and Mount St. Mary’s University are all members of the CREST Board and will be working with CREST to develop specific STEM pathways for students in K-12, 2-year,and 4-year settings. This process will not only encourage the identification of STEM-proficient students, it will also help drive programs to broaden the appeal of STEM subjects and provide educational tracks for these students to follow as they matriculate through our local institutions.

“While CREST is designed to support graduate degrees, students in K-12 will also benefit, said Dr. Theresa Alban, Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools. “I envision opportunities for students to participate in internships or to be mentored by CREST faculty and students. This center will demonstrate for our students that lifelong learning is an important part of a person's career plan; best of all, it allows our students to see Frederick County providing long term educational opportunities for them and their families. I am thrilled by the potential benefits CREST offers to us!” said Alban.

Dr. Andrea Chapdelaine, President of Hood College, sees CREST as a much-needed addition to the Frederick higher education community. “Hood College is pleased to be a member of the Frederick Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology. The Center will provide graduate and certificate educational programs to the region that complement and expand the offerings currently available through the Frederick County institutions of higher education.”

Another aspect of CREST is the use of the Center to attract, develop, and grow research efforts in this area. Fueled by the dynamics and synergies between students, professors, scientists and researchers all working within related STEM fields such as biomedical science, biotechnology, and engineering, CREST will anchor a research hub for the Baltimore-Washington area providing opportunities to extend and define research efforts, develop cross-disciplinary collaboration, and serve as an incubator for innovative and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Congressman John Delaney has been working with CREST in this area. “If we want our country to remain at the forefront of innovation, we have to provide our students with a world-class education. Frederick CREST will strengthen Maryland’s role as an engine of biomedical and technological discovery by expanding access to education and stimulating research in our state,” Delaney said. “Development of the Center will be good for job growth, good for students, and good for the future of Frederick’s economy.”

The goal for CREST is to create a highly educated, STEM-centric workforce that will be employed locally in high quality, high paying jobs that will enable them to live/work/school here. “Area companies will not only remain in the Frederick region, they will be able to grow their workforce and collaborate through the research hub,” said Houghton. “Their growth will help to draw similar companies, as well as ancillary and service industries to the area. The student profile for CREST is Millennials and GenXers who will be recruited and retained by the educational offerings and research activities at CREST. This will play a big part in how Frederick defines itself in the future.”

As CREST looks ahead, a key component of success will be the ability to secure funding for ongoing efforts through the Frederick business community. By addressing the unmet educational needs of this area, CREST will be able to drive economic development and foster business retention, raise area educational and socioeconomic levels, improve area quality of life, and advance STEM research and education in Maryland, and in the U.S.

Full instructions on how to contribute to CREST via the Frederick County Community Foundation:
Checks should be made payable to The Community Foundation of Frederick County and noted for The Crest Fund in the memo line of the check. Just mail or drop off the checks to their office at The Community Foundation of Frederick County 312 E. Church St., Frederick, MD 21701. Donors can also give on line through the website at http://www.FrederickCountyGives.org.

For more information on Frederick CREST, contact Sue Houghton, Planning Director
shoughton(at)frederick(dot)edu or 240-409-4891

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