AACC, NSF Announce Winning Teams of 2022 Community College Innovation Challenge

Bergen Community College, NJ; Front Range Community College, CO; and Columbus State Community College, OH took home winning titles following presentations of their STEM innovations to address real-world challenges

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2022 /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 this year’s Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC). 

2022 Community College Innovation Challenge (PRNewsfoto/American Association of Community Colleges)

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

Bergen Community College (New Jersey)

Project: 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.

Second Place Winner

Front Range Community College (Colorado)

Project: 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.

Third Place Winner

Columbus State Community College (Ohio)

Project: 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.

Last week, 12 community colleges selected as finalists in a national competition attended an 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 Poster Session with STEM leaders and congressional stakeholders, and a 5-minute pitch presentation to a panel of industry and entrepreneurial professionals determining the winning teams.

“The innovative ideas that were presented in the Community College Innovation Challenge were incredibly impressive,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. “The student teams showcased the leadership and ingenuity that is needed to address issues that impact all of us. We are proud to partner with the National Science Foundation to continue to spotlight the innovative STEM programs offered at the nation’s community colleges. On behalf of AACC, I congratulate the winners of this year’s competition as well as all of the students that participated.”

Among the ideas the 12 finalist 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.

“Last week’s events were just one example of the critical role our community colleges play in supporting and educating the next generation of STEM talent. It has been inspiring to see how the participants’ hard work and dedication have resulted in some truly impressive projects addressing a wide range of real-world challenges,” said Sylvia Butterfield, acting assistant director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “Each team represents the future of science and technology in the United States. Congratulations to all the winners for their hard work and I look forward to your continued success.”

To receive updates about the CCIC’s 2022 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 2022 budget of $8.8 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.


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SOURCE American Association of Community Colleges


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