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Community Innovation Summit Turns Students into Problem Solvers

Fall 2020 Innovation Summit Flyer Fall 2020 Innovation Summit Flyer

Registration underway for Nov. 20-21 event

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) students, it’s time to get innovative! And maybe win some scholarship money. The Fall 2020 Community Innovation Summit is set for Nov. 20 and 21. Due to COVID-19, the event will take place in a virtual format.

The Summit, a joint partnership between EMCC and the ASU J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, brings EMCC students together to work on teams and solve issues that local organizations are struggling with. Here’s how it works:

Students register for the summit. Prior to the event, they receive emails detailing challenges experienced by local businesses. On Nov. 20, they are placed onto teams of around six each to develop solutions. Then on Nov. 21, they pitch their ideas for the chance to win scholarship money — $3,000 for the first-place team and $1,500 for second place.

This is the second time EMCC and ASU have teamed up for the event. The inaugural Community Innovation Summit took place in February. Teams took on a wide variety of issues ranging from transportation to the equity achievement gap of underrepresented students. 

“The students who participated in the Summit learned how to be innovative and creative and how to work on a team,” said Dr. Liz Cantú, Communications Professor and one of the event organizers. “They gained workforce skills that will help propel them in their career goals and pursuits. They learned how to be problem solvers.”

First-year EMCC student Evly Pacheco participated in the inaugural Summit, working on the team that took on the equity achievement gap challenge.

“Our solution was to reach out to students through Canvas and send them a survey,” Evly said. “Then we could analyze the responses and understand what they need to succeed.”

Evly’s team won second place, earning each team member a $250 scholarship. Evly, who is also helping to publicize the November Summit through an internship, said she registered for the February Summit because she was curious and wanted to challenge herself.

“I enjoyed every aspect of it,” she said. “I loved the collaboration with other students and the speed of it all. While working together, we learned our strengths and weaknesses. I learned to think faster and more efficiently on the spot and to the point.”

While the format of the November Summit will be very similar to the inaugural event, it will have a much narrower focus: Challenges and issues related to COVID-19. Evly promises it will be an exciting event.

“This event helps you become a sharper business problem solver,” she said. “Two days to problem solve makes you wonder how much faster you can problem solve your own innovative idea and turn it into a reality.”

The Summit is open to all EMCC students. To register, go to

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