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2017 Innovation Grants Program Award Recipients

American Industrial Hygiene Association

When they present at career days around the country, industrial hygiene (IH) and occupational environmental health and safety (OEHS) professionals are challenged to capture the attention of high school and college students. For years, the volunteer groups at the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) have struggled to put together an informative and interesting way to showcase their important careers. IH and OEHS professionals are primarily technically minded people with a variety of highly valued skill sets who keep moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and spouses and children safe from workplace dangers.

Last year, AIHA rolled out the first phase of a new way to introduce IH and OEHS careers to teen students and college undergrads. By taking elements common to role playing and video games and turning them into relatable avatars, AIHA created fictional characters (based on real-life IH professionals) who represent various stages of an IH and OEHS career and who highlight two of AIHA’s three defined “knowledge tracks”—the IH Professional Pathways.

The IGP award will contribute to the project’s second phase. Phase II will provide new tools that will aid in continued outreach but also increase career development and member engagement and raise public awareness. The tools AIHA is exploring include an on-the-job documentary series, interactive video courses, and comics and animations that further explain the profession to new and potential users. By highlighting the opportunities available in IH and OEHS—as well as the career support AIHA provides—these tools will engage both current AIHA members and the members of the future.

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

One of AICPA’s most vital goals is providing knowledge to accounting professionals to excel and protect the public interest. Based on this goal, the AICPA Innovation team has a vision to create a knowledge-sharing platform—similar to TED Talks—for global accounting and finance professionals to spread innovative ideas.

This platform, called IdeaAcct, will connect thought leaders all around the world, showcase innovation opportunities to lead the accounting profession to the future, create transparency, and enable coordination for the accounting and finance bodies to act uniformly to protect the public interest. While IdeaAcct will be a live event, recordings of the talks will be made available on an online platform. Since building this platform is a major project and requires myriad resources, the innovation team proposes starting small and prototyping the project to learn and iterate, which will facilitate success at a larger scale.

AICPA will prototype IdeaAcct at the organization’s new, multidisciplinary conference, called ENGAGE, in Las Vegas in July 2017. The innovation team will create a campaign to encourage thought leaders to submit their innovative ideas to present at the conference. Up to five visionary speakers will be selected, all of whom will be recognized and rewarded.

Through this prototype, the innovation team intends to identify a thought leader network and the best channels and messaging to engage them, develop speaker facilitating and convening requirements, and define areas of interest and expertise related to innovation. AICPA believes this will be an invaluable learning experience to validate the case for creating IdeaAcct and scale it efficiently in later years.

Institute of Food Technologists

The world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. This will require innovative solutions to meet current and future challenges in ensuring a safe, wholesome, and plentiful food supply across the globe. The Institute of Food Technologists Student Association believes students are a critical segment in identifying solutions and that their organization is optimally positioned to lead those efforts.

IFTSA’s project consists of a food innovation challenge in which global partner associations will select student delegates to attend the 2017 IFT annual event, IFT17. At IFT17, these students will be organized into teams, presented with a case study representative of a pressing global food issue, and challenged to develop solutions using the vast knowledge available through the event’s 100-plus scientific educational sessions and 1,000-plus exhibitors at the Food Expo. The program will feature opportunities for students to interact with professionals who will mentor them on how to best access event resources to address the case study challenge. This intensive learning environment will give students a real-life laboratory to discover solutions, apply theory to practice, and ultimately understand how global collaboration will advance innovation in the science of the food marketplace.

National Court Reporters Foundation

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) seeks to give voice to veterans with hearing loss by creating the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. This project will capture the poignant stories of America’s war veterans with hearing loss for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project (VHP). This new program combines NCRF’s current work with VHP and the profession’s work for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

Hearing loss can make it difficult to interact with others, and to aid in communication, some highly skilled stenographic court reporters with specialized training have developed a system to take down the spoken word and translate it to the written word through Communications Access Realtime Translation. CART is recognized as an auxiliary aid by the Americans with Disabilities Act and provides those with hearing loss a verbatim transcript of live speech, including at live events, in classrooms, at meetings, and in other settings.

CART would allow veterans with profound hearing loss to be interviewed for VHP, with questions and answers appearing on a computer screen in front of the person in real time. While there are many oral history programs and veterans’ oral history programs, to NCRF’s knowledge, this project would be the first devoted to interviewing veterans with hearing loss. This is important because hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are two of the most common service injuries, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. As the population of veterans with hearing loss increases, so will the need for CART. This project will both showcase a service that improves the lives of those with hearing loss and preserve these veterans’ experiences for posterity and research.

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