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June 15, 2021

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – A team from Johnson County Community College (JCCC) is one of 12 finalists competing in the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC), a national competition held each year.

The CCIC seeks to advance student impact through STEM solutions to real-world challenges and foster the development of students’ innovation, research and entrepreneurial skills. Through the competition, teams assess their innovation's potential impact, identify its scientific and market feasibility, and determine its societal relevance.

The JCCC team — named Johnson County Honors Women — consists of students Kate Boyer, Ashley "Kat" Hooley Lickteig, Jacqueline Contreras and Jacquelyn “Jacqui” White and faculty mentor Tara Karaim, Coordinator, Community Based Learning.

“The team’s innovation idea is to create a mechanical bench that allows individuals who use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, to get from their driver’s seat to the back of their vehicle to access their device unassisted,” Karaim said.

The team will participate in CCIC's Virtual Innovation Boot Camp June 14-17. The camp provides professional development, mentoring and coaching designed to build strategic communication and entrepreneurial skills to help students advance their innovations in both the private and public sectors. Students take part in sessions on commercializing ideas, using technology for social applications, communicating with stakeholders, refining a pitch and more.

The camp culminates in a virtual poster session and engagement opportunity with STEM leaders and congressional stakeholders, concluding in a pitch presentation to a panel of industry professionals to determine the first, second and third-place teams.

The CCIC is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges, in partnership with the National Science Foundation.  The competition was created in 2015 to broaden community college participation in STEM and innovation and to prepare students for meaningful employment in the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy.