Laney College

Laney College Finalist in National Science Foundation Innovation Challenge

Laney College Finalist in National Science Foundation Innovation Challenge


April 25, 2017


Dolores M. Bernal

(OAKLAND, CA) Laney College’s Pocket House Project was a finalist in this year’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC). The Washington, D.C.-based agency in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) made the announcement earlier this month. Along with Laney, ten other projects from community colleges across the country were chosen by the NSF for their ingenuity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).


“We asked teams of community college students, alongside faculty mentors and industry partners, to propose innovative, STEM-based solutions for real-world problems,” said Jim Lewis, acting head of the NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). “They responded with revolutionary projects that redesign solar panels, address issues of homelessness and defend against cyberattacks. With creative thinking like this, we are confident that our investment in community colleges will produce a vital return in building up the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.


Laney College was selected after students and faculty from the different career and technical education (CTE) departments submitted a written and video proposal on how pocket or “tiny houses” could overturn homelessness by using digital fabrication methods to create safe, inexpensive homes that are quick to manufacture and simple to assemble. Laney’s Pocket House is a smaller-scale version of “The Wedge” — a tiny house fabricated last summer that produces all the energy it needs. Both, The Wedge and the Pocket House were built with money from the City of Oakland as a way to promote innovation in solving the Bay Area’s current housing crisis.


“The Wedge and the Pocket House are the product of the amazing talent and innovative minds of our students and faculty who are determined to find solutions to real life problems,” said Laney College President Tammeil Gilkerson. “Being finalists means that we now have an opportunity to bring our pocket house model to the national stage as a viable option to address issues of affordable housing and homelessness not just in Oakland, or California, but across all cities where renting an apartment, or buying a home is becoming more and more difficult to afford.”


“The Pocket House has been an amazing project that provides students with an opportunity to focus on a real life project with the potential for meaningful societal impact,” said Danny Beasley, Laney’s FabLab Director and one of the project’s leads.


Finalists have the opportunity to attend an NSF-AACC-sponsored Innovation Boot Camp in Arlington, Virginia in June. At the boot camp, students will learn how to put their proposals into action to make real-world change.


For a list of all ten finalists, click here
For a short video about Laney’s Pocket House Project, click here
For a short video about “The Wedge,” click here


Located in the heart of Oakland, Laney is one of four colleges in the Peralta Community College District. Laney offers over 100 high-quality academic and career technical education programs to an estimated 13,000 students.


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