Community College Innovation Challenge aims to show how STEM can make a difference

NASHUA – Nashua Community College’s student team is among 12 finalists selected in the national Community College Innovation Challenge. CCIC is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges. Finalists will compete in a virtual innovation boot camp in mid-June.

The program “seeks to strengthen entrepreneurial thinking among community college students by challenging them to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems,” according to a CCIC news release. It also enables students to discover and demonstrate their capacity to use STEM to make a difference in the world and to translate that knowledge into action.

The team from NCC was selected for their work to develop the “EnviroMask,” an environmentally friendly, fully biodegradable face mask using cotton with bioplastic and non-woven bamboo fiber. The NCC team is:

  • Anthony (Tony) Gravell of Townsend, MA and a graduate of North Middlesex Regional HS
  • Lucas Scovil of Hudson, NH and graduate of Alvirne High School
  • Nathan Post, Nashua High School North graduate
  • Natalie Brown of Hollis, NH, graduate of Hollis Brookline High School
  • Professor Betsy Gamrat, Team Mentor

“It is truly inspiring to see the creativity and amazing talent of students in the nation’s community colleges, and I would like to congratulate the finalists for their hard work,” said Karen Marrongelle, assistant director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “We need to inspire new generations across all communities to explore the wonders of science and engineering, and CCIC is an exciting opportunity for students to start thinking about STEM careers. I look forward to learning more about their projects and the contributions these students will make to America’s STEM future.”

CCIC Teams consist of two to four students and a faculty or administrator team mentor. Finalists will attend a virtual innovation boot camp June 14-17, where they can interact with entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, strategic communication and marketplace dynamics. The boot camp culminates in a student innovation showcase with STEM leaders and congressional stakeholders and a pitch presentation to determine the first, second and third-place winning teams.

“[American Association of Community Colleges] is pleased to have been able to reconceptualize CCIC after postponing last year’s competition due to COVID-19,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of 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. Our post-pandemic world will need fresh, innovative minds to design creative solutions to help those that need it most, and we are excited to help facilitate the process.”

About Nashua Community College
Since 1970, Nashua Community College has been successfully meeting the educational needs of Greater Nashua through high quality post-secondary education and accelerated career training. Graduates leave the college prepared to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution and beyond. Nashua Community College works closely with industry partners to keep pace with changing technology and best practices. Partnerships with area businesses and organizations also provide students with internship and networking opportunities, allowing for real-world experiences to enrich their education. Students can choose from more than 50 associate degree, certificate, and workforce development programs. Nashua Community College is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire. The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the “65 by 25 Initiative,” which calls for 65 percent of New Hampshire citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands. Learn more about Nashua Community College online at

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