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AACC, NSF Announce Winning Teams of 2021 Community College Innovation Challenge

June 22, 2021 GMT

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), in partnership with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), announced the three winning teams of the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC).

The annual 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 to translate that knowledge into action.


The first, second and third-place winning teams and their innovations are listed below.

First Place Winner
Pasadena City College (California)
Project: Nano-Bioconjugate Immunotherapeutic

Second Place Winner
Borough of Manhattan Community College (New York)
Project: Designing Virtual Reality Application for Autistic Children

Third Place Winner
Austin Community College (Texas)
Project: OASIS – the Officer Aptitude & Stress Information System

Last week, the 12 finalist teams from across the country attended a Virtual Innovation Boot Camp where they learned from entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, strategic communication, and marketplace dynamics. The Boot Camp culminated in a Student Innovation Showcase with STEM leaders and congressional stakeholders, and a 5-minute pitch presentation to a panel of esteemed industry professionals determining the winning teams.

“AACC is proud of the community college students that participated in the Innovation Challenge,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. “Our nation’s community colleges are leaders and innovators in STEM curriculum and education and this competition fosters the development of those skills. We are thrilled to partner with the National Science Foundation to showcase these students and community colleges and extend congratulations to all of the participants who overcame the hurdles of the pandemic to provide these amazing solutions to real-world issues.”


Among the ideas the 12 finalist teams presented this year are solutions for addressing the pandemic from biodegradable masks to at-home virus testing; virtual reality applications to provide life-skills training to children with autism; and electric vehicle conversion kits, among others.

“In the Community College Innovation Challenge, students tackle real-world problems. It has been inspiring, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, to see how participants responded to this challenge with creativity and innovative ideas,” said Karen Marrongelle, assistant director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “Community colleges play an important role in building America’s skilled technical workforce and it has been encouraging to see how participants have demonstrated their capacity to use STEM to make a difference in the world and translate that knowledge into action. Congratulations to all the winners for their hard work.”

To receive updates about the CCIC’s 2021 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 opportunity 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. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals 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. https://www.nsf.gov/

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SOURCE American Association of Community Colleges