University News

Western Receives National Science Foundation Grant to Assist with New Living Learning Community

March 8, 2023

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - Western Illinois University will be offering eight new scholarships beginning this summer, as part of the National Science Foundation S-STEM grant WIU received recently.

Incoming freshman engineering or technology students can apply to become a member of the first cohort in the iCREST program and receive up to $7,000 per year in scholarship tuition for up to four years.

Professor Dave Hunter and Professor Blair McDonald applied for the grant titled "Improving Career Readiness for Engineering Students Through a Mentored Living Learning Community" (iCREST), and received funding to begin a new scholarship program aimed at providing more academic and financial support to students in the School of Engineering and Technology. iCREST students will become part of a small group of peer learners who will navigate their degree programs by working together.

Students in the iCREST program will attend classes together and work one-on-one with a faculty mentor and regularly meet in peer-led study groups, where they discuss career plans, academic schedules, ambitions, obstacles, campus resources and homework; live in a Living Learning Community on campus for their first two years; and begin participating in a paid summer internship with local industries in their first semester.

"This is a great opportunity for a young student to become engaged with their education," Hunter said. "The work experience, tied with learning in the classroom. will benefit the student for a lifetime. Being part of a peer group will help the student stay focused and excited about engineering and technology."

Students must meet the academic and financial selection criteria: to apply, candidates must have earned a high school grade point average of at least 2.75 and qualify for Pell Grant assistance.

For more information on the program, or to apply, visit

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