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Community College Innovation Challenge

About the Challenge

The Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) is a prestigious, two-stage competition where community college teams use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to innovate solutions to real-world problems, compete for cash awards, and earn full travel support (students and faculty) to attend an Innovation Boot Camp in Washington, D.C.

The CCIC is an annual event in its fourth year. It is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

This website contains everything teams need to get started. You can see CCIC past winners at this link.

What the Challenge Does

  • Strengthens and develops STEM thinking by applying it to solving real-world problems.
  • Creates deeper engagement and interactions between students and faculty mentors, and with the industry community, in a focused activity.
  • Expands horizons for faculty mentors and students.
  • Promotes the larger ecosystem that carries invention from idea to beneficial innovation.
  • Establishes productive relationships with NSF, AACC and industry.

The CCIC encompasses two distinct, but interrelated, stages.

Stage I - Invention

Assemble your Community College Team. Each team should consist of a faculty mentor, 3-5 students and an industry partner.

Develop breakthrough ideas. The 2018 CCIC has an open theme. All areas of STEM are welcome. Your team IS NOT required to have already implemented your innovation.

Your team IS required to:

  • Assess the innovation's potential impact (such as on the economy, national security, global competitiveness, etc.)
  • Determine the scientific and market feasibility, and societal relevance of the project
  • Identify any potential challenges (scientific, market or societal) and ways to work through them.
  • Share ideas for how the innovation would be implemented in a real-world scenario. Start thinking of yourselves as entrepreneurs with a new invention you want to bring to the marketplace.

Enter the solution in the challenge by submitting a written entry; and a 90-second video. Entries will be vetted by STEM innovation experts.

Up to 10 finalist teams will be selected to attend the Boot Camp and compete for first and second place.

Finalist teams will prepare for Stage II of the CCIC. Teams will receive small materials support grants to develop prototypes, demonstrations and materials.

Teams will participate in two CCIC preparation webinars: one orientation webinar, and a second webinar on customer discovery.

Stage II - Transformation

Finalist teams will attend an Innovation Boot Camp in Alexandria, Virginia, June 11-14, 2018.

Teams will discover the process for transforming ideas into reality through learning strategies for entrepreneurism, customer discovery, lean startup business and product-developing methodology, and design-centered thinking. They will gain practical communication skills through coaching and mentoring, and the opportunity to present on Capitol Hill.

The first and second place teams win cash awards. Teams are judged by their interaction and display at the Capitol Hill reception, and on their final presentation and pitch of ideas at the Boot Camp.

Next: What You Get

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Community College Innovation Challenge
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22314 USA

Follow #CCIChallenge

Who: Teams of 3-5 community college students with an interest in STEM, innovation and entrepreneurism; a faculty mentor and an industry partner.

When: Submit Oct. 18, 2017 - Feb. 14, 2018 by 11:59 p.m. EST.

Required Innovation Boot Camp for finalists and their faculty mentor, Alexandria, Va., June 11-14, 2018.


Why: To foster development of crucial innovation and entrepreneurial skills, gain confidence, network, win prizes and make real-world change.