AACC, NSF Announce 12 Student Teams to Advance to Community College Innovation Challenge Finals

Community college students will attend an Innovation Boot Camp to pitch their STEM solutions to real-world challenges 

Washington, DC – Today, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced that it had selected twelve finalist teams to advance to the final round of the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), set to take place in June 2022.  

In its sixth year, the competition seeks to strengthen entrepreneurial thinking among community college students by challenging them to develop STEM-based solutions to real-world problems. It also enables students to discover and demonstrate their capacity to use STEM to make a difference in the world and translate that knowledge into action. 

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 with STEM leaders and Congressional stakeholders and a pitch presentation to determine the first, second, and third-place winning teams. 

“AACC is thrilled to be able to host the CCIC in person after navigating last year’s competition through a virtual medium,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. “The students developing these innovations are trailblazers and their ideas are what will help us find solutions through STEM  that can benefit society. We’re proud to mentor this next generation of innovators.”

Among the ideas teams presented this year are solutions for addressing oil spills; HIV-1 treatments; a solar powered refrigeration system to preserve life-saving medicines; water filtrations systems; and applications to connect STEM students with career opportunities. 

“Community colleges educate some of the most creative and talented people in the nation. This competition is our way of supporting the advancement of this education across the country,” said Karen Marrongelle, assistant director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “I’d like to congratulate this year’s finalists for their hard work.” The CCIC is an incredible opportunity to jumpstart a career in STEM and I look forward to learning more about our students’ projects.

The 12 finalist schools and their projects are:

Bergen Community College (New Jersey)

The ScanCan: The Intelligent Recycling Bin is a recycling bin capable of identifying and accepting or rejecting recyclable objects ensuring recycling companies are collecting items free of non-recyclable waste. 

College of Central Florida (Florida)

True Wireless ECG proposes a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) that uses modern Bluetooth technology to connect all ten electrode sensors simultaneously to a smartphone or tablet to run a full scan of heart activity simple enough for the average person to use.

Columbus State Community College (Ohio)

Columbus Kinesthetics’ mission is to innovate STEM education by providing an immersive way for students to learn technical skills through using augmented and virtual reality applications, providing students a realistic job preview and technical workforce understanding.

Des Moines Area Community College (Iowa)

The Social Student app connects college students with resources and people on campus enabling college students to connect, participate, and discover available resources including tutoring services and an event calendar accessible to both instructors and students. 

Front Range Community College (Colorado) 

The Orca Oil-Separating & Bio-Filtration Vessel offers a solution to an issue affecting earth every day—oil spills. The Orca, inspired by the unique feeding style of whales, deploys a new method of cleaning oil spills that is both inexpensive and quick.

Linn Benton Community College (Oregon)

The Portable Air Shield System offers a way for people to be protected from polluted air–large and small particles alike–without having to cover half their face to keep safe. The system is also especially designed for use by firefighters on the front line. 

Middlesex Community College (Massachusetts)

STEM-finder is a vibrant mobile app that enables community college students in Massachusetts to easily find life-changing STEM-related opportunities relevant to their specific colleges and interests to boost their professional lives.

Ohlone College (California)

Wave Riders is an apparatus that samples water, collects data, and sends it to a cloud where the data can be mapped in real-time. This innovation allows for real-time data to inform organizations on solutions to combat drinking water toxicity, pollution, and ecosystem damage.

Polk State College (Florida)

The Polk State College team is working to osmotically reverse the negative effects of microplastics in drinking water by scaling down large commercial water filters for practical household use.

San Antonio College (Texas)

Ocular Horizon is a video-based software package that detects and monitors seizures using eye

movements on any consumer device with a camera. It provides a low-cost solution and accessible care for the three million individuals living with epilepsy in the U.S.

Santa Monica College (California)

The Santa Monica College team proposes an HIV-1 treatment using LRAs, NK-Cells, and bNABs that reactivates latent HIV cells with the goal of stopping their production at the source by killing the cells that the viruses harbor.

SUNY Orange (New York) 

Solar Absorption Repository (SAR) is a compact solar-powered refrigeration system that allows for  vaccines and other medications to be stored at the proper temperature in rural and sub-rural parts of Africa where electrical instability is a concern. 

To receive updates about the 2022 Innovation Boot Camp and the winners, follow @Comm_College or visit www.aaccinnovationchallenge.com. 


About AACC

As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) delivers educational and economic opportunities for nearly 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers, and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all. https://www.aacc.nche.edu/

About NSF

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals each year and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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