Isaac L. Auerbach Third Annual Innovation Competition & Award 2019

Innovation award winners with Yi and Ali

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The 2019 Innovation Awards Judges have been announced - click to view!

The third 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. The competition is open to all currently employed CCI faculty, professional staff and currently enrolled students. Collaboration among faculty/professional staff/students is encouraged.

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, you will need to complete a business case form (submitted via Qualtrics). Please see below for more details on the submission/application process.

What Does Innovation at CCI Look Like?

Many of the opportunities that CCI has in the areas of societal impact, the student experience, community building and the Women in Computing initiative require novel approaches and out-of-the-box thinking. Established in 2017, the CCI Isaac L. Auerbach Innovation Competition and Award helps to fuel the ideas that address these challenges while encouraging and celebrating creativity among faculty, professional staff and students. The goal for the College is to foster and sustain a culture of innovation, with this competition as the cornerstone of this effort.

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 nor limit your ideas.

CCI’s Innovation Priorities:

How can we?

  1. Create a Welcoming New CCI Space
    • As CCI prepares to move into our new location at 3675 Market Street, it is essential that the College’s new home is an environment that is welcoming, collaborative and fosters innovation and creativity. While furniture and space design/layout have been selected, there are still creative ways we can utilize and activate spaces throughout the new building. What resources can be used to create an energized and productive space?
  2. Advance the Women in Computing (WiC) Initiative
    • CCI has launched an overarching effort to increase the number of women 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
    • 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
    • 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, professional staff, 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
    • 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:
      • 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?
      • 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?

Application Process

This competition and award is open to all currently employed CCI faculty and professional staff, and currently enrolled students. To apply, submit a business case for your proposal via web form on the Qualtrics website by Thursday, February 28, 2019. All eligible submissions will be collected, anonymized, vetted and then posted for crowd voting. Winners will be decided by a combination of the most crowd votes and feedback from the Selection Committee.

Supplemental materials will also be accepted; however, they will only be made available to the Selection Committee should a project move forward to the final round. Supplemental materials should be limited to two PDF pages and may include documents or visuals that help illustrate and illuminate your ideas. Examples of supplemental materials include: reference list; project diagram/photo; raw data, data sets and data tables used to support your project.

Key Dates

Competition opens: Monday, January 7, 2019. Please click here to view the Qualtrics website

Innovation kick-off event: Thursday, January 31, 2019 - Click here to RSVP 

Submission deadline: Thursday, February 28, 2019 by 11:59 p.m. EST

Crowd voting opens: Monday, March 4, 2019

Crowd voting closes: Friday, March 15, 2019

Selection committee reviews: Monday, March 25, 2019 to Friday, April 5, 2019

Decisions/Winner(s) notified via email and posted on the CCI website: Mid April 2019

CCI Honors & Awards Event: May 2019

Funding and Selection Process

Funding level and award distribution: A total of up to $12,500 will be awarded with no single award being more than $2,500. 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 crowd 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 and professional staff, and currently enrolled students are eligible to apply. No lobbying of ideas to CCI colleagues or peers 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 a title, an abstract (1000 characters), and a full-length submission, to address the following categories (no more than 750 characters per category):

  • Problem Statement
  • Innovative Idea
  • Business Plan (which should include resources needed, timeline and general project budget estimate)
  • 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

Innovation Award Judges

These judges review the top selections from crowd voting and make the final award decisions:

Dean's Leadership Team

Christopher Spangler
Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications


Jeff Salvage
Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Erjia Yan
Assistant Professor, Information Science


Matt Horger
BS/MS Computer Science

Marisa Tranchitella
BS Computing & Security Technology

Professional Staff

Kerry Boland
Assistant Director, Creative Content and Publications

John McNamara
Information Technology Manager


Click here to view a recording of our Information Session

  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 these criteria will be discarded and will not be considered as part of your submission. Supplemental materials will not be available to the community during crowd 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. Can I resubmit a past project? Yes, project resubmissions and revisions are encouraged. We have received many great ideas that were not initially selected but could be reconsidered in following competition rounds.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 crowd voting round recuses themselves as a judge.
  8. Is the money taxed? How will it be received? 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Does it cost anything to submit? No; submissions are free.
  12. Are there limits to my submission? Submissions must include an abstract (1000 character max) and a full-length submission, no more than 750 characters per section.
  13. I have a question about the award. Who should I contact? Please send an email to