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News Release 16-126

Third annual Community College Innovation Challenge open for submissions

Competition seeks students taking on tough science and engineering questions

Bucks County CCIC team

A team from Bucks County Community College shows its wind tower design to NSF's Joan Ferrini-Mundy.

October 17, 2016

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Community colleges play a vital role in building up the U.S. science and engineering enterprise by bolstering the economy with fresh, new ideas and preparing technically proficient workers to execute them. With that in mind, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) are proud to open the third annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), a contest that challenges students to tackle real-world scientific challenges.

"At a time when the nation is working to maintain and expand a scientific workforce that can continue to lead the world in innovation, community colleges are an indispensable resource," said Lee Zia, acting director of NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education. "Community colleges have proven that they can bring people from under-served populations into science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and keep them on-track for careers that will play important roles in an increasingly technology-based world."

Every year, CCIC incorporates research topics of vital importance to today's scientists and engineers. This year's contest will challenge students to submit projects under one of three themes:

  • Maker to Manufacturer, which considers the development of innovative methods or solutions that address the typical hurdles for small-scale manufacturing.
  • Energy and Environment, which calls for projects that develop innovative approaches to sustainable pathways.
  • Security Technologies, which seeks original, practical methods to design, build, analyze and operate computer and network systems that are secure, private and usable.

NSF and AACC invite teams to submit their ideas before Feb. 15, 2017. Resource guides for all three themes -- as well as details about CCIC submissions, eligibility and prizes -- are available on the challenge's website.

"AACC is pleased to partner with the National Science Foundation to offer this important opportunity to feature and support community college student innovation and research in the cutting-edge fields of advanced manufacturing, energy technologies, and security technologies -- where their work can contribute to finding solutions to the nation's challenges in high-tech areas," said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the AACC.

Each team must consist of three to five students (currently enrolled and in good standing at a two-year, associate-degree granting U.S. institution), a faculty mentor, and a community or industry partner. Each entry must include a written submission and a video submission.

Judges will select up to 10 teams as finalists. In June of 2017, finalists will attend a four-day innovation "boot camp" focused on helping them develop skills in innovation and design thinking, entrepreneurship and business planning.

As part of the boot camp, finalists will correspond with NSF program officers and science policy fellows, with the goal of providing them with customized science and engineering coaching.


Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, its budget is $8.1 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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