Posted on February 15th in News

CCIC Lifts 2022 Competitors

The three members of the Bergen County Community College team consider the Community College Innovative Challenge (CCIC), which they won in 2022, a key experience in their lives.

Jacob Jalinski uses the insights he gained about how effective innovators market themselves and their creations as he makes his way through classes at Stevens Institute of Technology and continues working as a tutor at Bergen. 

Tyler Jacobs immediately put CCIC lessons about market research into action to grow his home-based electronics business. Jacobs now has enough orders to keep both him and his wife fully employed.

Tyler Jacobs was a member of the Bergen Community College team that won the 2022 Community College Innovation Challenge. He now works full-time on his home-based electronics business. Jacobs has increased sales of his electronic kits and boards to schools and hobbyists by applying what he learned about market research at the CCIC boot camp.

And Roee Shalom, a Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) member, mentions CCIC during internship interviews and on his applications to the universities he has applied to transfer to when he graduates from Bergin in May.

“I always bring up CCIC. I feel like it’s something that drives me above everyone else. It’s a pinpoint mark to saying ‘Wow he’s won a national competition,’” he said.  

Other 2022 CCIC finalists are similarly enthusiastic about the national competition.

PTK will host a one-hour webinar The Community College Innovation Challenge – Why You Should Apply! at 2 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday, February 28. Register here.

The CCIC is offered by the American Association of Community Colleges in partnership with the National Science Foundation, and includes cash prizes for each member of the first, second, and third place teams.  

Confidence Boost

Allison Arnold, who describes herself as an introvert before the CCIC, says she’s now a better communicator. She credits the “self discovery” she gained while attending the CCIC boot camp as a member of the Des Moines Area Community College Boone Campus team.

“The different workshops at the boot camp really made me feel more comfortable and more sure of myself,” Arnold said. She learned that she can be a leader while working behind the scenes on software and assembling data. Now this PTK member is more confident in everyday conversations and even aced a speech class in fall 2022. 

Career Insights

Adina Beaufort, who was on the Columbus State Community College team that placed third in 2022, expects the CCIC to impact her career in biomedical engineering because it opened her eyes to the variety of positions within STEM and showed her how to find research opportunities.

“The CCIC helped me to understand the importance of human connection and being personable in the STEM field. I feel like these traits are often overlooked by people both inside and outside of STEM. The CCIC boot camp was focused on selling the product, which required knowing what people are looking for in an innovation and what they need to hear about it in a concise, digestible manner. Being able to break it down to both scientists, consumers, and end-users.

Adina Beaufort (center) says the boot camp taught her that innovations should be explained in concise, digestible messages. She is member of the Columbus State Community College team that placed third at the 2022 Community College Innovation Challenge and is pictured with her teammates Benjamin Fisher (left) and Bryce Byington (right).

“There are a multitude of innovations out there that are held back by an inability to discuss why this is important to a person. CCIC has helped me to understand innovations that are worthwhile, but how to use my voice to bring understanding and insight to others,” Beaufort said.

Promotion Skills

“I learned to be better about advertising my project and myself,” Xavier Cotton said about his key take away from the CCIC boot camp. In the fall he used those skills to talk with employers at a career fair at the Colorado School of Mines, which he transferred to in fall 2022. “I use those skills to talk to potential employers about projects I’ve done.”

Not only did Cotton and his only teammate Cristian Madrazo place second at the 2022 CCIC with their oil spill clean-up tool, they won the science poster contest at Front Range Community College.

Cristian Madrazo (left) says he uses the marketing skills learned at the Community College Innovation Challenge boot camp; and Xavier Cotton (right) says the boot camp taught him “to be better about advertising my project and myself.” Madrazo and Cotton are members of the Front Range Community College team that placed second at the 2022 Community College Innovation Challenge.

Their award-winning project was developed for an engineering design course at Front Range; neither man knew anything about oil spills before beginning the project. Their instructor, Anne Wrobetz, connected them to subject-matter experts to interview about petroleum and mechanical engineering, robotics, and water remediation. They taught themselves 3-D modeling and printing to create a prototype, which they needed for the course, and then use to create illustrations for their CCIC poster that was displayed with other contestants at the Library of Congress.  

The CCIC tasks took a bit more time than the course work, Cotton said, calling their decision to put a strong effort in the CCIC a good “risk.” 

Blend of Business & STEM

Madrazo describes the CCIC as an excellent opportunity for him to blend his business knowledge with STEM interests. He earned an associate degree in business in 2021, and after working at a construction company enrolled in computer science courses. At the CCIC boot camp he came to appreciate more of the business side of STEM. 

“It was such an amazing experience,” said Madrazo. He became a PTK member in January and says that since June, “I’ve been definitely using those advertising and marketing skills, and most definitely mentioning the CCIC accomplishment on interviews, scholarship applications, internships applications. It’s definitely one of the big accomplishments I talk about all the time.”

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