NSF seeks STEM solutions from community colleges

Challenges students to tackle big, data, security, sustainability

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched a new community college competition that aims to capture students' attention and simultaneously address real-world STEM problems, reports Community College Daily.

To compete in the Community College Innovation Challenge, students will submit 90-second videos in groups of three to five that explain STEM solutions to real-world problems in big data, infrastructure security, sustainability, and improving STEM education and participation.

Related: Promoting a culture of innovation

"It's really important that community college students see themselves as the innovators, as people that have a tremendous amount of creativity and expertise to contribute to solving these major, grand challenges facing society," says Susan Singer, director of NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education.

The new competition comes on the heels of the 2013 Graduate Education Challenge. That challenge was so successful that fellows from the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggested sourcing innovative ideas from two-year college students.

Competition opportunities

Each member of the first, second, and third place teams will receive $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 respectively—and each of the top 10 teams earn $500 to pursue their ideas. Additionally, those 10 teams may attend the Innovation Boot Camp Challenge this summer to network and interact with mentors.

Fifty videos curated by judges will be displayed permanently on NSF's website. Singer says she hopes students will add a line to their resumes and gain self-confidence as innovators (Patton, Community College Daily, 12/5).

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