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Innovation at CCI

Isaac L. Auerbach Second Annual Innovation Competition & Award

View our 2018 Innovation Competition & Award Winners!

The second annual Isaac L. Auerbach Innovation Competition and Award, which exemplifies the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship at the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI), seeks to recognize the culture of innovation in our CCI community. This year we will be expanding this initiative to include currently employed CCI faculty, professional staff and currently enrolled students.

We are seeking your best innovative and actionable ideas, which can help to develop new ways to significantly improve CCI along the dimensions of College priorities.

To apply for this competition and award, applicants must complete a business case form to be submitted via Qualtrics (beginning Monday, January 8, 2018). Details about the application process follow.

  1. What Does Innovation at CCI Look Like?

    Innovation, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.” In the context of this competition, an innovative idea is one that will change the way CCI operates to better the College. Today, innovation comes in many forms, ranging from technological developments to thought leadership. With a focus on computer science and information science and their unique intersection, CCI is in an ideal position at Drexel and in the Philadelphia region to be a cornerstone of innovation.

    As you develop your business case for your innovative concept, you are welcome to consider innovations in any of the following areas. Please keep in mind that these are broad topics and areas in which to formulate your innovations. They are only meant to guide and not overwhelm or limit your ideas.

    CCI’s Innovation Priorities:

    How can we?

    1. Celebrate the 5th Anniversary of CCI
      1. CCI was formed in 2013. Since that time there have been many changes and much growth. How do we acknowledge this momentous occasion in a meaningful way that can expand our faculty, student and staff connections and raise our College profile?
    2. Advance the Women in Computing (WIC) Initiative
      1. CCI has launched an overarching effort to increase gender diversity in the computing field. This collaborative effort involves CCI, industry and each one of us. How can we recruit female students to our College? How can we retain this female talent once they choose CCI? How can we create meaningful and measurable impact with this initiative?
    3. Create Societal Impact
      1. Now more than ever we see the role of technology in society. How can we increase our research and academic influence to make the world a better place? Can we use our knowledge to increase learning? Help populations in need through research? Blaze a sustainable path for the future? How can we be responsible CCI citizens to our surrounding community?
    4. Build a Vibrant CCI Community
      1. A vibrant community is one in which individuals are engaged and committed to one another through shared responsibility. How can we make CCI the best it can be? Are there opportunities to better connect faculty, students and alumni to collaborate? How do we harness our individual talents and energy to benefit the CCI community? Can we create a college-wide common focus to reach our goals?
    5. Enhance the Student Experience
      1. The student experience reflects every aspect of student life. Students are at the center of everything we do in CCI. This area is two-fold:
        1. College perspective - How can we improve the student lifecycle from first contact to graduation and the alumni experience? Are there courses that CCI could look to develop (or expand upon) that would better prepare students for their fields of interest? Is there co-curricular programming that could better cater to the interest of CCI students that is not currently being offered? Are there ways in which CCI students’ needs are met that could be improved from a process-oriented standpoint?
        2. Student perspective—Are there programs or support systems that could make CCI an even better place be? Are there issues you’ve encountered that you can propose a solution for? How can we improve your campus experience, through events or other ideas? 
  2. Application Process

    This competition and award is open to all currently employed CCI faculty, professional staff and currently enrolled students. To apply, submit a business case for your proposal via web form on the Qualtrics site by Friday, February 16, 2018. All eligible submissions will be collected, anonymized, vetted and then posted for crowdsource voting.  The project title and project abstract will be made public on the CCI Inovation website in order to facilitate crowdsource voting. Winners will be decided by a combination of the most crowdsourced votes and feedback from the Selection Committee.

    Key Dates

    • Competition opens: Monday, January 8, 2018 (submission portal opens)
    • Submission deadline:  Extended to Friday, March 2, 2018
    • Crowdsource voting opens: Monday, March 19, 2018
    • Crowdsource voting closes: Wednesday, April 4, 2018
    • Selection committee reviews: Monday, April 9-Wednesday, April 18, 2018
    • Decisions/Winner(s) notified via email and posted on the CCI website: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Funding and Selection Process

    Funding level and award distribution: A total of up to $25,000 will be awarded with no single award being more than $5,000. Proposers can be an individual or team. In the case of an award-winning team, funding will be split equally among the team members. The winning project(s) will be selected by a combination of the most crowdsourced votes and feedback from the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will be composed of faculty, professional staff, students and alumni. Decisions of the Selection Committee are final. All eligible submissions will be anonymized, vetted, and posted for voting. Award winners will be notified in writing via email, posted on the CCI website and recognized by the College.

    Submission Eligibility and Rules

    Currently employed CCI faculty, professional staff and currently enrolled students are eligible to apply. No lobbying of ideas to CCI colleagues will be permitted. This will lead to disqualification from the competition. All submissions must be original to the submitter and not defamatory or libelous. Any fraudulent submissions or activity will result in immediate disqualification. Submissions must include an abstract, no more than 1000 characters, and a full-length submission, no more than 2000 characters (500 characters per section) to address the following categories:

    • Problem Statement
    • Innovative Idea
    • Business Plan
    • Outcome

    Evaluation Criteria

    Winning innovations will be awarded based on their idea(s) and not the actual implementation of the innovation. Implementation of the idea(s) is at the discretion of CCI’s Senior Leadership team. Winning innovations should demonstrate a combination of the following characteristics:

    • Considered situations and problems from novel and diverse perspectives; addressed challenges in an innovative manner
    • Developed imaginative ideas to drive the organization forward; came up with creative, new ways of doing things
    • Questioned existing assumptions and beliefs; encouraged people to think or alternative ways of doing things
    • Approached innovation with a practical, task-oriented mindset 
  3. FAQs
  1. Who is considered a currently enrolled CCI student?
    A currently enrolled CCI student is defined as an Undergraduate, Graduate or Doctoral level student actively seeking a degree offered by the college. Students with only CCI Undergraduate or Graduate Minors declared as well as Certificate and Exploratory Study students are not eligible to submit proposals at this time.
  2. Can I submit supplemental materials with my application?
    You may submit up to two pages of a PDF file (no more than 2MB) to support your proposal.  The attachments are limited to a reference list and diagrams. Attachments that do not meet this criteria with be discarded and will not be considered as part of your submission. Supplemental material will not be available to the community during the crowdsource  voting.  These materials will only be made available to the Selection Committee in the final round of voting.
  3. Can my award submission be discussed? Can I talk about my submission?
    You can talk about your innovative idea(s) before you submit them but not after you complete your submission.
  4. Is there a limit to the number of submissions I can make?
    There is no submission limit.
  5. Who’s on the Committee? Will that be announced?
    The Selection Committee will be composed of some of the members of the College leadership team, along with faculty, students, staff and alumni. This Committee has not been appointed yet. The Committee will be announced once it is formed. The Dean’s Leadership Team has collectively decided not to submit for this award.
  6. Can the Selection Committee submit for this award?
    The Selection Committee has not been appointed yet. We ask that anyone who submits for the award and makes it past the crowdsourcing round recuses themselves as a judge.
  7. Is the money taxed? How will it be received?
    Yes. The funds will be taxed. Prizes for faculty and professional staff will be processed through Drexel University’s Payroll department and will be received in your paycheck. Non-exempt staff are required to document hours devoted to the project for compensation purposes.
  8. I’m a student. How will I receive my award?
    If you have been employed by Drexel University within the last calendar year, payment will go through the Payroll department and will be sent by direct deposit (if setup) or a check will be mailed to the home address on file.  All other students will be required to fill out tax forms in order to process payment and a check will be mailed to your listed address.
  9. What if I’m no longer employed or enrolled at CCI at the time of the award?
    Only currently employed CCI faculty and professional staff and currently enrolled CCI students can be awarded.
  10. Does it cost anything to submit?
  11. Are there limits to my submission?
    Submissions must include an abstract, no more than 1000 characters, and a full-length submission, no more than 2000 characters (500 characters per section).
  12. I have a question about the award. Who should I contact?
    Please send an email to

Innovation Award Information Session
January 25, 2018