Oakton a Community College Innovation Challenge Finalist for Second Straight Year
(April 9, 2018) Oakton Community College has been selected as one of 10 finalists in the 2018 Community College Innovation Challenge, marking the second straight year the college has been recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Oakton’s project, “Heat Recovering Silencer,” replaces the traditional vehicle muffler with a new device that maintains noise reduction while efficiently recovering exhaust heat. Led by Oakton lecturer Helen Skop, Ph.D., the project team includes Elliott Alexander (Evanston), Michelle Chudnovsky (Skokie), Tracy Martinez (Elk Grove Village), Judd Palonpon (Des Plaines) and Anna Yabloch (Northfield).
“Our team research and experimental work has proven the feasibility of regular muffler replacement with our heat-recovering muffler,” says Skop, of Skokie. “We created a unique design for such a device, and implementation of our heat-recovering muffler can save 12 percent of wasted heat energy, which amounts to 3.2 quadrillion BTUs of energy or $66.4 billion per year.”
The CCIC seeks to strengthen entrepreneurial thinking among community college students by challenging them to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to find innovative solutions to real-world problems. Each student team works with a faculty mentor and industry partner to develop STEM-based solutions.
“When given opportunities such as the STEM research and design project courses at Oakton and support from faculty such as Dr. Helen Skop, students can accomplish a lot,” says Oakton Center for Promoting STEM Co-Director and Coordinator Gloria Liu.
Finalists will attend an NSF-AACC-sponsored Innovation Boot Camp in Alexandria, Virginia, in June. At the boot camp, students interact with entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, communication and marketplace dynamics.
“Many talented students may not have considered a career in a STEM field,” says Jim Lewis, NSF acting assistant director for Education and Human Resources, the directorate that funds CCIC. “CCIC demonstrates the creativity of students in the nation’s community colleges and provides an exciting opportunity for them to start thinking about STEM careers. Fostering talent from all over the U.S. is crucial to NSF’s mission and our nation. I congratulate the finalists and look forward to seeing them and learning more about their STEM-based inventions.”
The challenge requires teams to assess their innovation’s potential impact, identify its scientific and market feasibility and determine its societal relevance. Teams then must submit written and video entries.
“AACC is pleased to continue its partnership with NSF and congratulates the 10 finalist teams of the fourth annual Community College Innovation Challenge,” says Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the AACC. “The students competing in this challenge are leaders in innovation, and their use of STEM solutions to benefit society are not only highly significant but necessary in helping to secure a strong future.”