NOVA Named as National Finalists in STEM and Entrepreneurial Community College Innovation Challenge

Clubs and Organizations

May 14, 2018

From: Northern Virginia Community College - Alexandria Campus

A team of four students from Northern Virginia Community College are 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 Community College Innovation Challenge (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 support to attend an NSF-AACC-sponsored Innovation Boot Camp in Alexandria in June. At the boot camp, students interact with entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, communication and marketplace dynamics.

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. While enrolled in the same computer science class, the team of students 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 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 nor resources to cater to each affected individual.”

“From June 11th to 14th,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. As the team’s faculty advisor, I'm extremely proud of our students. “This is an excellent opportunity for them to gain tremendous experience in entrepreneurship and networking.”

Among the ideas from other community college teams presented this year include solutions for assisting those with knee injuries, 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.