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Community College Innovation Challenge

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions. If your question is not addressed here, please email and someone will promptly respond to your inquiry.

1.Can entrants be from any community college in the U.S.? What about students pursuing two-year degrees at colleges offering four-year degrees as well?
All student participants must be pursuing a two-year degree at a college in the U.S., its territories or its possessions at the time of entry (i.e., the fall 2017 semester or the spring 2018 semester). Two-year degree-pursuing students at a hybrid two-year / four-year college are eligible to participate as long as they are pursuing a two-year degree and not a four-year degree at the time of entry. Teams may not consist of students from multiple institutions.

2.What is meant by "team" for the purpose of the contest?
Teams must consist of 3 to 5 student team members, a faculty mentor at their college and an industry partner (not another faculty member or employee at their college). NSF and AACC encourage teams to be diverse and multidisciplinary (comprised of engineers, designers, scientists, planners, businesspeople and more).

3.Is the Innovation Boot Camp a science and engineering workshop?
No. Your team will not receive customized science coaching on your project at the boot camp. The boot camp is a professional development workshop aimed at building entrepreneurial skills relevant to innovation in both the private and public sectors. Sessions will include information applicable to commercializing ideas, using technology for social applications, communicating with stakeholders, refining a pitch and more. There will be customized sessions for faculty mentors led by NSF leadership that will offer information on NSF funding opportunities for community colleges.

4.Can multiple teams from the same community college apply?
Yes. While multiple teams from a single community college can apply, no more than two teams would be selected to advance to the finalist round attending the boot camp.

5.Can a student be on multiple teams?
No, each student can only be on one team.

6.Can a faculty member mentor multiple teams?

7.Is there a specific grade-point average that qualifies a student to be "in good standing"?
No. We rely on your own educational institution to determine if you are in good standing.

8.Must the faculty mentor teach a STEM discipline?
No. Mentors must be full or part-time faculty members and can specialize in any discipline at their college.

9.Who is eligible to be an industry partner?
Any individual who works in industry or the community including those at a business, school, nonprofit organization, community center, cultural center, public service agency, government entity or professional society or be a community member. Fellow faculty members and employees at the students' college are not eligible to be an industry partner. Partners provide relevant support and/or resources for teams.

10.Once an entrant submits a video can they revise it or replace it with another video prior to the February 14 deadline?
No. Once you submit a video to the competition it is considered a final submission and cannot be revised or replaced. However, you can save your entry on the challenge platform and edit it many times before submitting.

11.How will finalists be notified?
All registered team members will be notified via email by early April if they have progressed to the finalist round.

12.Will information on the Innovation Boot Camp be sent directly to finalists?
Yes. Finalists will be contacted shortly after the semifinal round of judging concludes and the next steps will be relayed. These steps include participating in webinars and doing homework to prepare for the Innovation Boot Camp.

13.What if a team member is unable to attend the boot camp?
All finalist student team members, as well as the faculty mentor, are required to attend the boot camp; however, on a case-by-case basis, NSF and AACC will consider issues that arise that may prevent team members from attending.

14.How will the first- and second-place winners be notified?
Winning teams will be announced at the end of the boot camp. The first and second-place teams will be mailed checks upon completion of the necessary tax forms on site, a few weeks following the boot camp. They will be announced in an NSF news release and displayed on the challenge website.

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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.