Whoop, whoop! Rallying teams to compete in CCIC

By Madeline Patton

Central Wyoming College (CWC) professor Jacki Klancher is so enthusiastic about the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) that in anticipation of this past Monday’s launch of the 2024 national competition, she sent all her faculty colleagues a letter encouraging them to mentor a student team this year.

“This event is amazing. If you put together a project entry with your students: You will have so much fun. And if you end up going to DC, you will have even more fun,” Klancher wrote to the CWC faculty.

Klancher mentored Central Wyoming’s 2023 team, which was one of 12 teams to qualify for the CCIC Innovation Boot Camp in Washington, D.C., last summer. She is director of instruction and research, professor of environmental science and health, and a leader of the Alpine Science Institute at CWC.

Other CCIC mentors will share their insights during a free webinar — “The Community College Innovation Challenge – Why Your Students Should Apply” — on February 8. Register today.

Sharpening the non-technical skills

CCIC, which is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), is an opportunity for community college student teams to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Mentors can be community college faculty, staff or administrators and not necessarily from STEM disciplines. Nikki Grose, assistant professor and chair of the English department at Feather River College, explained in an email, “I love that the competition stresses the importance of communicating our ideas in various forms. Communication, including presentations, writing, research posters, etc., is an often forgotten skill that is critical in the world today.”

The period for the teams to submit their written and 90-second video entries describing their solutions runs through April 2.

A “CCIC Application Idea Vetting Session for Students”will be held on February 15.  Register for this Zoom session where students can ask questions of a former CCIC judge and student participant, as well as NSF and AACC representatives.

Learn and compete

Up to 12 selected finalist teams will attend the Innovation Boot Camp, where students and their mentors get coached to build strategic communication and entrepreneurial skills. Finalist teams also participate in a Student Innovation Poster Session and engagement opportunity with STEM leaders and congressional stakeholders, and a pitch presentation in front of a panel of industry professionals and entrepreneurs.

Each finalist team member and their mentors receive full travel support and $500 cash honorariums to attend the boot camp, where the teams will compete for additional cash awards. Each member of the first, second and third teams — including mentors — will receive awards in the following amounts: $3,000 for first place; $2,000 for second place; $1,000 for third place.

Klancher wrote to her colleagues, “If your team, and their idea, is selected to go to the finals in DC, prepare yourself for a truly wonderful, entertaining, and professionally beneficial week. The other mentors that I met were invested and engaging, their students inspiring, and the presentations that the students crafted to pitch their idea were, hands down, some of the best presentations I have ever seen.”

This article originally appeared in CC Daily.

Madeline Patton

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.