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12 teams advance to ‘Innovation Challenge’ finals

12 teams advance to ‘Innovation Challenge’ finals

Article courtesy of Community College Daily

A dozen student teams from community colleges will participate in the final round of the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), an annual national competition that asks two-year college student teams to develop STEM-based solutions to real-world problems.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), on Wednesday announced the selected 12 CCIC finalist teams who will travel to Washington, D.C., in June for a special boot camp and the final round of the competition. This year’s top teams pitched solutions for addressing dementia care; safety concerns for children with autism; improving equipment for firefighters; recycling and energy conservation efforts; climate research; and an artificial intelligence app to address student challenges with distraction and time management.

Learning and networking

CCIC teams consist of two to four students and a faculty or administrator team mentor. Finalists attend an Innovation Boot Camp in June and interact with entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, strategic communication and marketplace dynamics. The boot camp culminates in a student innovation poster session on Capitol Hill with STEM leaders and Congressional stakeholders and a pitch presentation to determine the first, second and third-place winning teams.

“Each year I am impressed and inspired by the level of talent displayed by these community college students, and I am very proud to partner with the National Science Foundation to provide a platform for these future leaders that are taking on the real-world challenges with creative, thoughtful and transformational proposals,” said AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus.

James L. Moore III, NSF assistant director for the Directorate for STEM Education, noted the important role community colleges play in growing the nation’s STEM capacity.

“With the increasing demand for skilled technical workers, they occupy a significant space in preparing diverse students for today’s STEM workforce,” he said. “I extend my congratulations to this year’s finalists, and I look forward to seeing how their work can make a difference in the world by translating knowledge into action.” 

A glimpse at the projects

The 12 finalist schools and their projects are:

  • Bergen Community College (New Jersey): The Electric Go-Kart Development team seeks to shape a new generation of leaders in the growing electric vehicle field by developing an electric go-kart and best practices manufacturing guidebook for replication in community colleges and technical high schools.
  • Borough of Manhattan Community College (New York): Towards an Intelligent App for Dementia Care focuses on impacting the growing number of people living with dementia. It provides an accessible software solution to aid patients and caregivers in helping to detect, monitor and alleviate the symptoms of dementia in a scalable, affordable manner.

  • Central Wyoming College (Wyoming): New Voices in Climate is a diverse group of Indigenous community college students using innovative technologies to collect, map and analyze critical temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity data from Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation.

  • Cleveland State Community College (Tennessee): Bottle to Model: PET Plastics Solution is an apparatus that turns plastic bottles into 3D printer filament. Large volumes of bottles can be recycled in this manner and turned into 3D printer filament at low cost and with minimal prep work by the user.
  • Feather River College (California): Making Our MARK with the EVA-I is a redesign of the existing MARK-3 water pump used by wildland firefighters. The EVA-1 increases efficiency and saves water and energy by being solar battery-powered and equipped with heat sensors, which are programmed to activate only when the sensors pick up on the heat signature of an approaching wildfire.

  • Henry Ford College (Michigan): The Take a Moment to Focus (Moment) app proposes to address students’ struggles with constant distraction and poor time management. The app incorporates artificial intelligence to help students build effective and personalized dynamic schedules.
  • Houston Community College (Texas): Project Eagle Rescue has developed the Rescue Operation Assistant (ROA), which is a new attachment for firefighters’ gear. It is a hands-free device that will analyze in real-time if there are any obstacles, structural failures or victims that firefighters would otherwise be unable to see through smoke and fire.
  • Hudson County Community College (New Jersey): The Color Filaments team developed a computer program to conduct color-matching for 3D printer filaments. The software helps to improve three key issues interfering with color-matching 3D filament: color inaccuracy, manufacturing labor and time consumption.

  • Red Rocks Community College (Colorado): The w(aut)ch is designed as a sensory-friendly safety device to prevent drowning and other dangers caused by elopement of children with autism. The device can be worn as a bracelet or magnetized to clothing, remotely monitors location and heart rate, and immediately notifies caregivers when the device is submerged in water, with the option to contact 911.

  • Virginia Western Community College (Virginia): Sort-a-Tab is an automated sorting mechanism created to assist the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Roanoke, Virginia, in their recycling efforts of thousands of pounds of donated pull tabs and bottle caps. Sort-a-Tab replaces a tedious hand-sorting effort with one that is automated and designed to drastically improve efficiency.

  • West Hills College Coalinga (California): The Cr-3 Electric Battery is an innovative and unique proposition of a chromium battery containing nickel sulfamate and barium designed to be eco-friendly. The rechargeable battery is non-toxic, easily accessible and a cost-effective alternative to gasoline.  
  • Woodland Community College (California): The Location Emitting Emergency Ring (LEER) uses GPS tracking, live audio feed, and a panic switch to provide safety in a discrete package. Once activated, a signal is sent to family, friends, or loved ones allowing them to locate the user and bring them to safety.

For updates about the 2023 Innovation Boot Camp and the winners, follow @Comm_College or visit