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CCI Celebrates Faculty and Professional Staff Innovation at Inaugural Isaac L. Auerbach Competition

April 25, 2017

Since its founding 2013, Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) has instilled the knowledge and skills necessary for students to lead and innovate across industries in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. As the College continues to grow, we must also continue to innovate for our students. In Jan. 2017, CCI launched its inaugural Isaac L. Auerbach Innovation Competition to gather innovative and actionable ideas from faculty and professional staff, specifically calling for proposals that were both contemporary and practical in providing solutions to specific challenges at the College.

The competition awards were made possible through the generous support of Carol and Isaac L. Auerbach. Isaac Auerbach graduated from Drexel with an electrical engineering degree in 1943 and a went on to earn his master’s in applied physics from Harvard in 1947. He was in the U.S. Navy from 1943-6, and would go on to become an influential figure in the field of computer technology. He founded the International Federation for Information Process (IFIP) in 1960, and in 1990 served on Drexel’s board of trustees. Before his death in 1992, he held 15 patents and had been involved in philanthropic efforts in the Jewish community. 

A committee comprised of faculty, professional staff, students and alumni reviewed each anonymous submission and rated each on a five-point scale, valuing ideas over the ability to implement those ideas. Out of the 32 submissions that were received, five cash awards were given to teams and individuals, with a total value of $20,000. 

Winning innovations demonstrated a combination of the following characteristics: 1) they considered situations and problems from novel and diverse perspectives, and addressed challenges in an innovative manner; 2) they developed imaginative ideas to drive the organization forward, and came up with creative, new ways of doing things; 3) they questioned existing assumptions and beliefs and encouraged people to think of alternative ways of doing things; and 4) they approached innovation with a practical, task-oriented mindset.

Winners of the inaugural Isaac L. Auerbach Innovation Award include:

Michelle Rogers (associate professor) and Miguel Vargas (financial assistant), for “Increase Enrollment of Underrepresented Minority Students.” The proposal outlined a four-step process to change the recruitment process in order to improve opportunities for underrepresented minority students (URM). The proposal had a direct focus on sustainability through partnerships with organizations that cater to URM students.  

Isaac L Auerbach Award


Andrea Forte (associate professor) for “Proposed Innovation to Recruit Top PhD Student Talent.” Forte’s proposal was designed to increase recruitment of talented PhD students by lowering the cost associated with the process. The proposal included a match up to $3,000 for student visits, and to create opportunities like “recruitment weekends” for prospective graduate students. By lowering the costs of visits, and creating a more welcoming environment, Forte’s plan will assist Drexel’s graduate programs in acquiring talented candidates for their programs. 

Isaac L Auerbach Award

Brenna Martin (assistant director, faculty support services) and Stefan Jewett (administrative assistant) for “Open Educational Resources.” This proposal was designed to increase recruitment through an open or free textbook policy. Access to textbooks would allow students with financial concerns to better complete coursework in a time where textbook prices are at an all-time high. 

 Isaac L Auerbach Award

Congratulations to Isaac L. Auerbach Innovation Award recipients, whose proposals will help CCI to grow as a College, and to serve its students even better than before.