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Competition Recruits CC Students to Find STEM Solutions for Real-World Problems

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the National Science Foundation have opened up the Community College Innovation Challenge. The mission: for teams of community college students to create STEM solutions for real-world challenges. This is the fifth year the challenge has run.

Working in teams of two to four and under the guidance of a mentor from their school's faculty or administration, students will spend up to six months molding proposals into business pitches. The best pitches will be presented in front of industry experts and be featured in posters shown to members of the United States Congress.

The finalist teams will compete for cash awards and earn travel support to attend an innovation boot camp in Alexandria, VA, adjacent to Washington, DC. There, they'll network with other team members, STEM leaders and members of Congress and learn more about startup activities, including business planning, stakeholder engagement, communication and marketplace analysis.

Previous winners have developed solutions such as a thermal electric solar water heater that uses a heat collector on the back of a solar panel to capture unused thermal energy to heat water for people without homes; and a web-based program that brings together individuals who need help after a disaster and the engineers or other professionals who would like to volunteer to help find solutions for them.

"The Community College Innovation Challenge is a national competition designed specifically to offer community college students a seat at the STEM innovation table," said Ellen Hause, program director of Academic & Student Affairs at AACC, in a statement. "We encourage students to submit their novel research and innovative ideas and look forward to working with the finalist teams to provide them the tools to make their ideas a reality."

Team applications and proposals can be submitted until March 31, 2020 by 11:59 p.m. to the Community College Innovation Challenge 2020 website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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