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Community College Innovation Challenge

How to Win the Challenge

Become a finalist by coming up with a stand-out idea and Stage I submission. Prepare for the 2018 Innovation Boot Camp:

  • Begin focusing beyond the idea to explore its viability outside the lab and understand how to make it desirable, available and affordable in the real world.
  • Create an eye-popping display that clearly conveys how the idea solves a societal problem, and how society benefits.
  • Attend the 2018 Boot Camp (June 11-14,2018).
  • Learn to calibrate ideas to marketplace needs and opportunities.
  • Receive coaching and mentoring in strategic communication, design-centered thinking and identity and brand development.
  • Showcase your project and college.
  • Interact effectively with Members of Congress, legislative staff and other dignitaries at the CCIC Capitol Hill event.
  • Deliver a stand-out presentation about the project to a distinguished panel of judges.

Bill Petros Photography

What You Win

NSF and AACC awards:

  • A plaque for all finalist schools.
  • A $500 honorarium for all finalist faculty mentors.
  • Full travel support for all finalist attendees.
  • Cash awards to first and second-place teams (students only).
  • First place: $1,500.
  • Second place: $1,200.

Stage II Judging Criteria

Performing proficiently during two activities will be essential to securing a spot in the winner's circle at the Stage II Innovation Boot Camp for finalists. One of these activities is the Capitol Hill reception; the other is the formal presentation.

The overall effectiveness that finalist teams demonstrate through the combination of these two proceedings will determine the ultimate winner of this year's challenge. In other words, a team must perform well at both activities in order to win.

A distinguished panel of judges will adjudicate both events using criteria that assess the finalist teams' abilities in skillfully representing their innovations during the Hill reception, and in convincingly conveying the merits, value and potential of their ideas during the formal presentations.

These two events will be scored separately. The two scores will then be weighted -- 55 percent for the Capitol Hill event and 45 percent for the formal presentations -- and combined to produce a total score.

Judges will consider the following criteria during both activities:

For the Capitol Hill reception

Does the display:

  • Identify a societal need?
  • Demonstrate how the innovation satisfies this need?
  • Communicate the innovation's novelty, feasibility and viability?
  • Substantiate the innovation's ability to produce measurable benefits?

Does the team:

  • Exhibit enthusiasm?
  • Knowledgeably represent the innovation?
  • Proactively seek out and engage with visitors?
  • Ask questions of visitors and actively listen to answers?
  • Align their responses and interactions to the interests of the audience?

Do the team's interactions:

  • Convincingly champion their innovation's value and significance?
  • Effectively explain the science behind, and the uniqueness of, their innovation?
  • Make clear how society benefits?
  • Express optimism and vision?
  • Reflect positively on their team and their institution?
  • Convey a roadmap for moving the project forward?

For the formal presentations

Does the presentation:

  • Clearly identify the societal problem, need or opportunity that the innovation addresses?
  • Concisely explain how the idea solves this problem, meets the need or pursues the opportunity?
  • Succinctly convey the benefits the idea can or will produce?
  • Tell a complete story that persuasively signals the idea's novelty, feasibility and viability?
  • Reveal the idea's uniqueness and differentiate it from other existing or possible approaches?
  • Actively urge the listener to support further development of the idea?

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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.