Molecular Computation and Visualization
in Undergraduate Education
Founding: Eighteen participants met at Elizabethtown College for a week in June 1992 to discuss our common interest in bringing computational chemistry into the undergraduate chemistry classroom and explore ways in which we could cooperate and share our work. A month or so before this first meeting, the Hyperchem program was brought onto the market by Autodesk and we were able to arrange to have it demonstrated at the meeting. Our focus quickly shifted to include visualization as well as computational chemistry.
Those assembled felt strongly that we should continue meeting on a regular basis and considered several names for our collaboration which are best forgotten, but which shortly became MoleCVUE, emphasizing both computation and visualization, and focusing on all of undergraduate education instead of just chemistry.
Meetings: Since 1992, we have met twice annually, normally for about 5 days at the end of May or early June and again for 3 or 4 days right after New Year. The spring meetings have all been held at Elizabethtown College. Initially, the winter meetings were held at other institutions, but for the last several years, it has been simpler to hold all meetings at Elizabethtown College. Because in January 1994 and again in January 2003, John Ranck was just returning for a semester at the University of Copenhagen with Elizabethtown students and it was difficult to make arrangements for an early January meeting at Elizabethtown, these two meetings were conducted on-line. The results in 1994, communicating by a simple mailing list, were not very satisfactory. A much more successful on-line meeting was held in January 2003, using the Discussion Board and Virtual Classroom facilities of the Blackboard teaching system. After several years of experience with Pennsylvania weather in January, we have decided to hold future winter meetings "on-line" (indeed, during our January 3, 2003 meeting, a blizzard was raging in PA; thanks to broadband, most of us were able to "attend" while comfortably sitting in our homes.)
Mission: We have never lacked boldness! Initially, we were dreaming of million dollar programs and writing grant proposals for massive participation in the NSF Systemic Reforms in Chemistry programs and major FIPSE programs. These proposals were (justifiably) not funded, but in the process of meeting, discussing, and collaborating, we have found how rich a contribution we are able to make in local settings with very limited resources.