Linn-Benton Community College Named 2022 Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) Finalist

three people standing together

Linn-Benton Community College is one of 12 finalist teams that will advance to the next phase of the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), which is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation! The CCIC is a national competition where community college student teams, working with a faculty team mentor, use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to innovate solutions to real-world problems. Finalists attend an Innovation Boot Camp to share their ideas with experts and practitioners in the field and compete for cash prizes.

Team RoadRunner consists of the following students and faculty: Matthew Dunlap, Keri Grigas, William Shields, Gregory Stutheit, and Sisavath Virasak, Computer Systems faculty.
The problem they are trying to tackle is cultural hesitancy to wear masks, even on the frontlines of wildland firefighting. Firefighters, specifically mop-up crews after a wildfire, come into contact with dangerous chemicals in the form of small particles as they put out remaining embers. The masks most firefighters use are too bulky for the hard labor that mop-up crews have to do, sometimes for weeks at a time, but also have visibility issues.  Their project focuses on a way for people to be protected from large and small particles alike, without having to cover half their face to keep safe. The pandemic taught us that there are many people who prefer to not wear a mask, their reason being comfortability and breathability. This project would make it so that not only non-mask-favoring people can be comfortable and safe, but it can even be used on the front lines for firefighting. This would be a game-changer for firefighters and many others.

Now, they will move on to the Innovation Boot Camp in June. This Boot Camp will give the team the opportunity to be coached in building communication and entrepreneurial skills relevant to supporting innovation in both the private and public sectors. The sessions will include information applicable to commercializing ideas, using technology for social applications, communicating with stakeholders, refining a pitch, and more.

“I told the team that win or lose I was proud of them for being able to start something and finish it on top of balancing work, school, and other extracurricular activities,” said Virasak. “So to be nominated was just icing on the cake.  My hope is that our story will inspire young local kids to dream big and believe in themselves that anything is possible.  It takes hard work, dedication, and not giving up, and that's what this team did.”

To learn more, visit www.aaccinnovationchallenge.com. Stay up-to-date on Team RoadRunner’s progress by following #CCIChallenge2022 and Linn-Benton Community College on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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