NOVA a Finalist in STEM and CCIC Challenge

A team of four students from NOVA is one of 10 finalists to participate in the fourth annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). NOVA is the only college from Virginia selected to compete against two-year institutions from California, Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The CCIC is a prestigious, two-stage competition where teams of three to five community college students and a faculty mentor use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to innovate solutions to real-world problems to compete for cash awards. Finalists earn full travel funding to attend an NSF-AACC-sponsored Innovation Boot Camp in Alexandria in June. Students interact with entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, communication and marketplace dynamics at the boot camp.

NOVA students Brady Wiser (team captain), Jude Kallista-Fitzpatrick, Patrick Hufnagel and Javier Bonilla developed the concept of “Chariteering,” a web-based platform that facilitates collaboration between individuals who need assistance in the wake of a disaster with engineers or professionals who would like to volunteer to help find solutions. The team of students was enrolled in the same computer science class when they collectively decided to enter the competition to further develop their skills. After only two weeks of preparation and brainstorming ideas, the team decided the goal of their project should radically alter the culture of volunteering.

“Currently, there are no web-based volunteer or charity platforms that exist specifically toward empowering individuals affected by a disaster, or by connecting them with engineers and professionals who can craft personalized and precise solutions to suit their individual needs,” said Wiser. “Climate change spurs the frequency of natural disasters and the population of individuals who are in need of assistance with uniquely complex problems will grow. This population falls outside of the umbrella cast by larger disaster relief organizations. Larger organizations may not have the time or resources to cater to each affected individual.”

“From June 11 – 14 the actual competition consists of two parts,” said David Lin, team faculty advisor. “Students will attend a reception and present their project at Capitol Hill in front of a panel of stakeholders, members of Congress and the National Science Foundation. They will also attend the NSF-AACC Innovation Boot Camp at The Alexandrian Hotel in Alexandria. I’m extremely proud of our students. This is an excellent opportunity for them to gain tremendous experience in entrepreneurship and networking.”

Ideas presented by other community college teams this year include solutions for assisting those with knee injuries and detecting landmines left in place after armed conflicts and harnessing energy from waste products. For additional information about the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), visit their website.

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