Innovation Challenge

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In June, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) hosted the fourth annual
Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC). This competition encourages
innovative, entrepreneurial students to use science and engineering to propose
solutions to real-world challenges, from energy generation to landmine
detection.

This year, 10 finalist teams were invited to the White House
to present their ideas to a panel of expert judges, and met with officials from
the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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CCIC requires months of work, training and learning from
these students. This visit to the White House was a wonderful way to honor
their efforts. I was impressed by the creativity of the finalists, and the
professionalism they showed in presenting their innovations.

First place went to Western Dakota Tech from Rapid City,
South Dakota for their cutting-edge approach to reducing U.S. hunger. The team
designed an electrically automated system in which plants and fish are
cultivated in a symbiotic life cycle.

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Their impressive project and the amazing work done by the
rest of the teams reminded me how important it is to stimulate young minds and
empower them to tackle societal problems. It is an honor to watch the next
generation of American innovators be recognized so early in their path toward
scientific discovery. I would like to personally thank the many officials
who took time to meet with the finalists.

Photo (s) credit: Bill
Petros/NSF