BMCC Computer Science Team One of 12 Selected Nationwide to Advance to Community College Innovation Challenge

April 27, 2023

A team of four Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Computer Science majors— Peter Vaiciulis, Mustafa Donmez, Yusuf Taha and Florian Charles— led by Computer Information Systems Professor Mohammad Azhar, are among 12 finalist teams selected from colleges across the United States to advance to the final round of the Community College Innovation Challenge set to take place in Washington D.C. in June.  BMCC is the only community college from the state of New York to be selected for the final event.

The Community College Innovation Challenge is produced by the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The BMCC team’s project is Towards an Intelligent App for Dementia Care, which focuses on impacting the growing number of people living with dementia. It provides an accessible software solution to aid patients and caregivers in helping to detect, monitor, and alleviate the symptoms of dementia in a scalable, affordable manner.

Congratulations to Professor Azhar and his team of highly talented students who will be representing BMCC at this prestigious competition,” said BMCC President Anthony E. Munroe.  “BMCC is proud of our STEM academic programs which we know are among the best in New York and beyond.  The BMCC team’s accomplishment further confirms that.”

U.S. Representative Dan Goldman, who represents New York’s 10th District, congratulated the students.

“I am incredibly proud of the work the students of BMCC are doing to improve the lives of people across the country living with dementia,”  Congressman Dan Goldman said. “Our community colleges are vital institutions in ensuring that everyone has access to quality, affordable higher education. I am glad that, once again, New York City is paving the way and leading the country in both the strength of our educational opportunities and the creativity of our students.”

The BMCC team’s sense of urgency in working on assistive technology for patients with Dementia gained relevance when the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the number of people impacted by Dementia could rise to 139 million in 2050, which is up from 55 million in 2020.

“We wanted to conduct research on intelligent accessible software solutions to aid patients, caregivers and family members,” said Professor Azhar. “We also want to help detect, monitor, and alleviate the symptoms of dementia in a scalable, affordable manner.  I am very proud of our awesome dedicated computer science student teams, and happy to create research opportunities for them to showcase their skills in this U.S. wide competitive STEM Innovation challenge”

National Science Foundation Assistant Director for Directorate for STEM Education , James L. Moore III, said to grow the nation’s STEM capacity, the United States must invest more in community colleges.

“With the increasing demand for skilled technical workers, they occupy a significant space in preparing diverse students for today’s STEM workforce.,” said Moore. “I extend my congratulations to this year’s finalists, and I look forward to seeing how their work can make a difference in the world by translating knowledge into action.”

Now in its seventh year, the competition seeks to strengthen entrepreneurial thinking among community college students by challenging them to develop STEM-based solutions to real-world problems. It also enables students to discover and demonstrate their capacity to use STEM to make a difference in the world and translate that knowledge into action.

The 12 competing teams consist of two to four students and a faculty or administrator team mentor. The BMCC team and the other finalists will attend an Innovation Boot Camp in June and interact with entrepreneurs and experts in business planning, stakeholder engagement, strategic communication, and marketplace dynamics.

The Boot Camp culminates in a Student Innovation Poster Session on Capitol Hill with STEM leaders and Congressional stakeholders and a pitch presentation to determine the first, second, and third-place winning teams.

Funding for the BMCC team’s research has come from the BMCC CUNY Research Scholar Program (CRSP), BMCC LSAMP, BMCC Foundation Fund (BFF) Research program and NSF Technology Learning Community Project where Professor Azhar is the principal investigator (PI).

Students interested in learning more about similar research groups can contact Dr. Azhar at

  • Competition is produced by American Association of Community Colleges and National Science Foundation
  • BMCC team working on software that will aid dementia patients and caregivers
  • Congressman Dan Goldman says he is proud of BMCC team

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