2021-2022 Winners

Districtwide Winner

Academic and Student Success Integrated Technology (ASSIST)

District Office

Maricopa’s Academic & Student Success Integrated Support Technology (ASSIST) enables MCCCD to affordably deliver high-quality, timely, accessible, and informed service to all students. No single product exists in the marketplace to serve students throughout their entire journey and across multiple service areas with everything needed to support their success. Pricing models make broad adoption of these tools too expensive. Further, deciding who gets the technology due to the cost creates inequities as to which students get optimized service. ASSIST allows MCCCD to avoid these costs and improve service; automate communication; analyze data; and facilitate adoption, training, and support. The ASSIST platform means that MCCCD can now afford to equip ALL of its student services staff with access to powerful technology that enables them to provide effective support throughout the student lifecycle and improve success with the option to replicate these solutions at other colleges in the US.

Team Members

  • Mark Koan, Vice Chancellor & Chief Information Officer, District ITS
  • Joseph Licata, AVC and ACIO, District ITS
  • Michele Agostinelli, Program Director, District ITS
  • Lori Lindenberg, District Director Enterprise Analytics, District ITS
  • Brent Wickham, Information Technology Director, District ITS


The CGCC Computer Lab provides tech support services for our students and has always been a student-facing department. When we were forced to work remotely we had to come up with a solution on how to provide online services to our students, while also having a virtual space for our team to come together. We created the CGCC Computer Lab Virtual Help Desk using Discord.  Discord was something our students used for clubs and hang-out spaces.  We decided to use this platform and meet the students' needs by using something they were familiar with.  We continue to develop new ideas using the programmed Discord bot with AI features.  We are able to streamline information for our techs to provide our students with faster and more efficient tech support.  Some of the Discord features include:

  • Ticketing system 
  • Resources/QRF/FAQs access   
  • Organizational Information (announcements, schedules, coverage, email notifications, active issues)
  • AI bot (Ask Copper) - resources and information (other departments, password requirements, etc.)
  • Automatic registration
  • Automatic response when we are closed

We have been asked to help other departments/colleges and to give them ideas of how we utilize Discord. We have also been asked by instructors to help set up Discord servers for their class study groups.  We hope to build our AI bot to help with common tech issues to respond to students after hours.

Team Members

  • Sonya Brieske, Instructional Services Manager, CGCC
  • Brian Wahnon, Lead Computer Lab Tech, CGCC
  • Zalma Aguirre, previous Lead Computer Lab Tech, CGCC

As a learning college, student learning is at the forefront. Measuring student learning (outcomes) is a means of demonstrating if students are learning. When the information is accessible and useful to faculty and staff, improving these outcomes can affect persistence, retention, and completion. The existing student learning outcomes assessment process was cumbersome with too few faculty participating, and results were seldom applied. We needed a simpler process to assess student outcomes (SLOs), research trends in the data, and provide insights. What if grading an assignment in Canvas could automatically result in dashboards reporting on learning mastery? SLOs tell the story about learning & provide a roadmap to improve student outcomes, persistence, retention, & completion. This project provides simple ways to assess & evaluate results as well as potentially rendering leading measures for a program's 4DX Wildly Important Goals (WIGs).

Team Members

  • James H Waugh III, Planning Research Analyst Senior, Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (OPIE), EMCC
  • Rebecca Baranowski, Math faculty and former SAC co-coordinator, EMCC
  • Najmah Muhammad, Instructional Designer/Tech, Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), EMCC

Phoenix Forge is a community makerspace managed by GateWay Community College on behalf of the Maricopa County Community College District. At 17,000 square feet (23,000 when Phase 2 is finished in 2022), it is the only large makerspace in the ten-college district as well as being the largest makerspace in the Southwest. For learners of all ages, we have created a variety of beginner to advanced classes in electronics, robotics, welding, metal fabrication, woodworking, prototyping, digital fabrication, and textiles in a facility designed to inspire collaboration, exploration, and creative fabrication. With the means for students to explore their interests informally or with short classes and workshops, the makerspace motivates students to try new technologies, take lengthier courses on campus, learn advantageous skills for the changing workplace, develop new businesses, gain experience with advanced manufacturing equipment, or receive short-term training to meet local business needs.

Team Members

  • Kristin Gubser, Associate Vice President for Workforce Strategy & External Affairs, GWCC
  • Bruce Balfour, PhD, Executive Director, Phoenix Forge, GWCC
  • Benjamin Bednarz, Program Manager, Phoenix Forge, GWCC

At the start of COVID-19 pandemic, the GCC Center for Learning was forced to rapidly move its services online and hastily patch together an online tutoring system. With time, weaknesses in this first system became evident, so the department began searching for and testing alternative online tutoring systems. Ultimately, the department chose Discord as its new online tutoring “home.” Discord fulfilled several requirements: It was (1) centralized to encompass all tutoring subjects, (2) malleable to adapt to the varied needs among tutors, (3) accessible to students regardless of the device, and (4) user-friendly for staff and students. The implementation of Discord as the new tutoring server united the previously siloed tutoring at GCC, leading to the centralized Tutoring Across the College. Since its creation, the tutoring Discord server has seamlessly and effectively connected students and tutors in thousands of tutoring sessions.

Team Members

  • Dana Jiang, Admin Specialist Sr., GCC
  • Maya Aragon, Student Services Technician, GCC
  • Jamin Kollasch, Tutor, GCC
  • Siqi Li, Front Desk, GCC

In March 2020 when faced with the challenge of going fully virtual as a result of the global pandemic, the Center for Community & Civic Engagement and Mesa Community College pivoted its in-person student engagement to virtual. We implemented two programs that afforded students and faculty opportunities to be engaged in civic engagement, one of the college's student learning outcomes. The birth of the Civic Engagement Scorecard and Civic Action Hour was developed. The ultimate goal of the project was to keep students and faculty engaged with local and national community and civic organizations in virtual settings. An unexpected outcome of this project was the social and mental health support created through virtual experiences with participants staying home and out of public spaces. These virtual programs have been so successful that faculty, students, and community partners continue to be involved after returning to campus.

Team Members

  • Duane D. Oakes, Retired, Faculty Director, MCC
  • Karen Appel, Retired, Civic Engagement & Service-Learning Faculty Liaison, MCC
  • Dawn M. Rhodes, Service-Learning Program Coordinator, MCC
  • Debra L. Ohlinger, Civic Engagement Program Coordinator, MCC
  • Kelley Stewart, Civic Engagement Specialist, MCC
  • Danette Turner, Civic Engagement Specialist, MCC
  • Andrea Sanchez, Administrative Specialist Sr., MCC

The innovative use of photogrammetry, 3d scanning, and 3d printing of real-world objects and art pieces for fine arts benefits provide valuable experience for students and ongoing projects at PVCC. The goal of the project is to use photogrammetry, 3d scanning, and 3d printing to catalog artworks in a 3d environment, create 3d video game assets, 3d print theatrical stage props, develop 3d assets for fine arts performances, and repair damaged artwork with 3d printing. Using these technologies to adapt to the ever-changing performing fine arts and digital art world, we can provide our students with new ways to develop and preserve art in an analog and digital space.

Team Members

  • Ryan A. Wentzel, Technical Director, PVCC for the Performing Arts
  • David L Bradley, Professor of Art, PVCC
  • Leroy Timblin, Coordinator of Fine Arts and instructional technology, SCC
  • William M. Deihl, Assistant Technical Director, PVCC
  • Philip Henry, Ceramic Student Worker, PVCC

The digital divide in a K-20 public school environment is multifaceted and interdisciplinary. The closing of the digital divide comprises components including access to devices, internet access, policy support, digital literacy and equity, cultural awareness, educational outcomes, and remote education. To facilitate the closing of the digital, there was a need to discover all facets emphasizing the complexity of the problem leading the team to walk through every aspect of the problem and not rely on a turnkey approach provided by a single vendor or solution provider. The Digital Education Connection Canopy (DECC) was created to address the closing of the digital divide by providing education and workforce development opportunities for students.

Team Members

  • Paul Ross, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer, PC
  • Laura Pastor, Community Relations, PC
  • Anton Spevacek, Chief Technology Officer, PC
  • Julie Morgenthal, Interim Information Technology Director, Infrastructure Services, District Office

The primary purpose of the Innovation Think Tank (ITT) is to facilitate a culture of innovation at the college through an inclusive institutional model that provides support structures for ideation; facilitates research and development; and embodies the espoused vision, mission, and values of the institution. The ITT systematically and transparently catalogs efforts to increase quality, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, competitive advantage, and improve resource allocation across the college. Through crowdsourcing the talents of people from all areas of the organization, we have advanced a common lexicon, increased proactiveness, and reduced silos while increasing collaboration, autonomy, and leadership at every level of the institution. The ITT concept has been socialized outside the organization and is already being adopted by other institutions.

Team Members

  • Janelle Elias, Vice President - Strategy, Advancement & National Division, RSC, Project Sponsor
  • Jason Reiche, Software Developer Senior for Instruction Design, RSC, Co-Chair
  • Lily Davidov, Faculty Chair Entrepreneurship+, RSC, Co-Chair

Beginning in Spring 2021, SCC’s Loss/Momentum Framework project provided the support, structure, and knowledge to faculty to analyze their course through four phases of a student’s experience in a course (Connection, Entry, Progress, Completion) for loss and momentum points. Loss points are those times when students are more likely to get poor grades, skip assignments, or stop attending classes. Momentum points are those times students get excited by the work and are more engaged in the course. After identifying these loss/momentum points, faculty then created interventions, implemented them, and evaluated the results - improving student outcomes. This timely project aligns with the Learning and Teaching category in that it analyzes and improves teaching and learning in the classroom, addressing the program criteria of quality and creativity. The materials used for this project are available for others to use and have already been shared with three other MCCCD colleges.

Team Members

  • Lisa Young, Faculty, SCC
  • Regina Harrison, Training & Development Consultant, SCC
  • Sarah Risi, Instructional Developer, SCC
  • Gabriel Tarr, Faculty, SCC
  • Lisa Marsio, Faculty, SCC
  • Ramona Santeisteban, Faculty, SCC
  • Judy Sutor, Faculty, SCC
  • Relindis Mawo, Faculty, SCC
  • Renee Davis, Faculty, SCC
  • Ann Healy, Faculty, SCC
  • Alan Watts, Faculty, SCC

Today, being a starving college student has become somewhat of a rite of passage. South Mountain Community College (SMCC) addresses food insecurity head-on, by developing The Village which is a three-pronged approach to addressing food insecurity. SMCC Student Affairs, facilitated through Student Life & Leadership, found it necessary to meet the needs of our students as a student success and retention effort. Food insecurity on college campuses disproportionately impacts students of color and low-income students. Some of the factors contributing to food insecurity on college campuses today are complex and include the rising cost of earning a degree as well as the increased enrollment of low-income students and students of color – many of whom rely on financial aid to afford college.

Team Members

  • Ralph D. Thompson II, Director of Student Development, SMCC
  • Guy Goodman, Dean of Enrollment Service, SMCC
  • Vanessa Logan, Student Success Specialist, SMCC