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Community College Innovation Challenge

2018 Winners!

First Place 2018

2018 CCIC Winners

Western Dakota Tech from Rapid City, South Dakota

Western Dakota Tech's innovative approach to reducing U.S. hunger by using aquaponics, a method in which both plants and fish are cultivated in a symbiotic life cycle, made them the preeminent team in this year's fourth-annual challenge. The team designed an electrically automated system in which fish are cultivated in the same water used to grow plants, giving users the ability to “set it and forget it.”

The Western Dakota Tech team includes students Tanner Blank, Joseph Cattin, Jonathan Eggers, Matthew Kerner, Bryan Mitchell and Nicholas Smith. Credit: Matthew Dembicki

Second Place 2018

2018 CCIC Winners

Oakton Community College from Des Plaines, Illinois

The Heat Recovering Silencer project replaces the traditional vehicle muffler with a new device that maintains noise reduction while recovering exhaust heat.

Second place winner Oakton Community College includes students Erika Bim, Michelle Chudnovsky, Tracy Martinez, Judd Palonpon, Helen Skop and Anna Yabloch. Credit: Matthew Dembicki

Western Dakota Tech earns first place in 4th annual Community College Innovation Challenge

Team innovates new method that simultaneously cultivates plants and fish

June 15, 2018: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) awarded Western Dakota Tech from Rapid City, South Dakota first place in the 2018 fourth annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC).

Judges awarded second place to Oakton Community College from Des Plaines, Illinois for their Heat Recovering Silencer project. Read more.


April 9, 2018

2018 Community College Innovation Challenge finalists announced

Challenge develops STEM and entrepreneurial thinking among community college students
The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), has named 10 finalists for the fourth annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC).
Read more.

Finalists 2018

  • Central Lakes College, Minnesota: Supporting Our Service Members
    Supporting Our Service Members is a STEM approach that leverages mobile technology to help active military as well as veterans' families cope with stress, especially during a time of crisis.
  • Forsyth Technical Community College, North Carolina: Illumination Innovation
    Illumination Innovation uses field-induced polymer electroluminescent lights to reduce the costs associated with growing produce in urban greenhouses.
  • Laney College, California: Integrated Thermal Electric Solar Water Heater
    Integrated Thermal Electric Solar Water Heater integrates a heat collector on the back of a solar electric panel to capture unused thermal energy to heat water for natural disaster victims, homeless individuals and those living or camping in isolated regions.
  • Los Angeles Mission College, California: Using wastewater to generate electricity in LA
    This project uses bacteria in an innovative microbial fuel cell configuration to treat wastewater and produce energy.
  • Northern Virginia Community College, Virgina: Chariteering
    Chariteering is a web-based platform that facilitates collaboration between individuals who need assistance in the wake of disaster and engineers or professionals who would like to volunteer to help find solutions.
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Wisconsin: Easy Cast
    Easy Cast is an efficient and cost-effective invention for mass producing a versatile, hands-free fishing apparatus that allows individuals with limited physical ability to enjoy fishing.
  • Oakton Community College, Illinois: Heat Recovering Silencer
    The Heat Recovering Silencer project replaces the traditional vehicle muffler with a new device that maintains noise reduction while recovering exhaust heat.
  • Ohlone College, California: Drone System for the Detection of Landmines
    This project combines drone technology, nanotechnology and materials science to offer an inexpensive and safe way to detect landmines.
  • Red Rocks Community College, Colorado: Knee Assisting Exoskeleton
    The Knee Assisting Exoskeleton project attempts to reduce weight on the knee joint with a full leg exoskeleton, creating a brace that will assist patients with a faster and more efficient recovery.
  • Western Dakota Tech, South Dakota: Electrical Automation to Solve Hunger
    The Electrical Automation to Solve Hunger project involves an automated system that combines raising fish for food with a method of growing crops using minimal human involvement.

Third NSF Community College Innovation Challenge rewards top entries

Judges recognize projects that slow antibiotic resistance and enhance STEM education

June 16, 2017: Teams from Texas and Colorado received first and second place awards, respectively, in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Community College Innovation Challenge. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) co-sponsors the annual event, which fosters students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers by asking them to offer creative solutions to real-world problems. Read more.

First Place 2017

2017 CCIC Winners

Del Mar College, Texas: Slowing Antibiotic Resistance with EnteroSword

This project advocates the use of tailor-made viruses that target bacteria that are resistant to conventional antibiotics treatment methods.

Photo: Students John Ramirez, Danial Nasr Azadani and Reavelyn Pray with their display at the Finalists' Reception on Capitol Hill. Credit: NSF/Bill Petros

Second Place 2017

2017 CCIC Winners

Red Rocks Community College, Colo.: Cyber Lab Learning Environment

The Red Rocks Community College team uses printed and digital material to demonstrate the power of the Cyber Lab Learning Environment.

Photo: Students Bruno Salvatico, John Sanchez and Isaac Kerley with their display at the Finalists' Reception on Capitol Hill. Credit: NSF/Bill Petros

Finalists 2017

  • Laney College, California: Laney College Pocket House Project
    Jake Chevrier, Marisha Farnsworth, Kimberly Gonzalez, Richard Rothbart, Daniel Ticker and Miguel Vega
    The Laney College Pocket House Project aims to overturn homelessness by using digital fabrication methods to create safe, inexpensive homes that are quick to manufacture and simple to assemble with minimal waste.
  • Corning Community College, New York: Project WaterFED
    Joseph Davis, Andy Diffenderfer, Sri Kamesh Narasimhan, Patrick Pruden and Jacob Zelko
    Project WaterFED aims to give people in communities with limited access to drinking water the tools to create water filters and other products by recycling discarded plastics.
  • El Paso Community College, Texas: Paso Del Norte Solar Innovators
    Roberto Alcala, Luis Lopez, Madero Rogelio Aguirre, Benito Oseguera and Olga Valerio
    Team El Paso Community College presents a composite-based material that improves solar panel performance by absorbing excess heat. The material prolongs the lifetime of solar panel systems and increases their energy efficiency in high temperature areas.
  • Forsyth Technical, North Carolina: Renewable Energy Roof Tile System
    Amber DeWitt, Brandon Mitchell, Julie Reynolds, Robert Summers and William Szwarc
    Forsyth Technical proposes a Renewable Energy Roofing Tile System that offers a realistic alternative to fossil fuels and traditional solar panels.
  • Frederick Community College, Maryland: Recycled Solar Stations for Energy
    Tanner Ash, Elizabeth Doyle, Cassie Kraham, Sean Scott, Godfrey Ssenyonga, Judy Staveley and Adil Zuber
    The Frederick Community College team piggybacks off recent research to experimentally determine the energy output of bacteria in soil. The team constructed a better bio-solar cell by changing the materials used in bio-solar cell creation.
  • Henry Ford College, Michigan: Veteroil: An Alternative Energy from Yard Waste
    Breanna Allen, Janice Gilliland and Will O'Connell
    The Henry Ford College proposes to replace fossil fuel with a biofuel from yard waste, which costs cities $7.3 billion per year. This innovation could save cities thousands of dollars each year by reducing the amount of yard waste fill disposed in landfills.
  • Oakton Community College, Illinois: Evaluation of Baking Oven Exhaust Recovery
    Harry Budge IV, Eduardo Jimenez Jr., Omer Malik, Rahim Sajwani and Helen Skop
    The Evaluation of Baking Oven Exhaust Recovery project contributes to development of innovative technology that evaluates ethanol pollution from various bakery processes that waste water and energy.
  • Bucks County Community College, Pennsylvania: Simply Secure
    Nikolous Bertino, Christine Delahanty, Roshan Thomas and Alexander White
    Bucks County's Simply Secure project would produce a low-cost, portable device that small businesses and everyday consumers could use to confidently and securely connect to any wireless network and ensure data travels cryptically from end-to-end.

Winners 2016

The 2016 Challenge awarded one First Place winner and two Second Place winners.

First Place: The Forsyth Technical Community College (Winston-Salem NC) team proposed to modernize greenhouses to fit individual customer needs by incorporating the use of renewable energy sources. NSF photo

Second Place: The team from Normandale Community College (Bloomington MN) proposed installing and implementing hydrokinetic turbines in wastewater treatment plants to generate renewable energy. NSF photo

Second Place: The team from Virginia Western Community College (Roanoke VA) proposed a mechanical collection method of recovering apples that otherwise could not be sold to produce environmentally friendly biofuel. NSF photo

Winners 2015

First Place: The Red Foxes - Red Rocks Community College, Lakewood, CO: Mobile Medical Disaster Relief Dispensation Unit NSF photo

Second Place: Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, South Bend: Biosensor for Coliphage aka 'Betadataquantatada' NSF photo

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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.