12 college teams named CCIC finalists

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Solutions for oil spills, HIV-1 treatments and a solar-powered refrigeration system to preserve life-saving medicines are among some of the innovative, STEM-based projects developed among the 12 finalist teams in this year’s Community College Innovation Challenge.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), this week announced the college teams that have advanced to the final round of CCIC, set to take place in June.

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.

“This year’s teams represent an astounding level of talent and creativity,” said AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus. “It is an honor that, together with the National Science Foundation, we are able to showcase these outstanding community college students. They will benefit from the program and build skills that will last a lifetime and we will benefit from the solutions to real-world issues developed by these future entrepreneurs.”

Teams comprise 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.

“Community Colleges play a vital role in developing our nation’s, diverse STEM talent,” said Sylvia Butterfield, acting assistant director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “I want to congratulate this year’s finalists who are providing their unique perspectives to provide solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.”

The 12 finalist colleges 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
True Wireless ECG proposes a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) that uses modern Bluetooth technology to connect all 10 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.

About the Author

Martha Parham
is senior vice president of public relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.