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2021 Shark Tank Open

SASSI earns 2021 Shark Tank Open Funding

St. Cloud State University's Supporting Autistic Student Success Initiative (SASSI) is one of six pitches that earned $25,000 in grant funding at the Minnesota State Educational Innovations 2021 Shark Tank Open

This SASSI project aims to examine how St. Cloud State can provide individualized and intensive support services and strategies to recruit and retain more students with autism. Emphasis will be placed on integrating existing student support services, the Communication Sciences and Disorders Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, and other School of Health and Human Services programs. The data and information gleaned from the project will help inform best practices in serving the academic and non-academic needs of autistic students not only at SCSU, but across the entire system.

This initiative was pitched by Dr. Theresa Estrem and Dr. Rebecca Crowell from Communication Science and Disorders on April 8 and was chosen out of 16 highly competitive finalists for this year's large seed funding competition. The selection panel cited they viewed the initiative as something that will make a difference in higher education, sees the potential in everyone and features amazing programs, among other things. 

The Shark Tank Open is Minnesota State Educational Innovation’s premier innovation event, drawing educators from across 37 colleges and university for a day of reimagining education. Faculty and staff innovators had seven minutes to virtually present their innovate project ideas to a panel of judges – known as the sharks – in an effort to receive up to $25,000 in innovation funding.

A total of six St. Cloud State teams presented their ideas at the Shark Tank Open, with the topics of those six teams including:

  • “Supporting Autistic Student Success Initiative (SASSI)” – Dr. Theresa Estrem and Dr. Rebecca Crowell
  • “St. Cloud State University Mobile Make It Lab” – Dr. Kurt Helgeson
  • “Center for International Disability Advocacy and Diplomacy” – Dr. Kathryn Johnson
  • “Interdisciplinary Applications of Artificial Intelligence Emphasizing Public Safety: A Multi Campus Collaboration to Develop and Offer a Minnesota State System Wide Course on Applications of Artificial Intelligence across the Criminal Justice System” – Drs. Lindsey Vigesaa, Mary Clifford and Kate Richardson Jen
  • “An intelligent feedback generation and content recommendation system for students to improve their learning experience” – Dr. Maninder Singh
  • “Innovating the Science Classroom for Widespread Engagement” – Drs. Matt Davis and Matt Julius

In addition to those presentations, St. Cloud State faculty also held innovation workshops at the Shark Tank Open, including the topics of Virtual Reality featuring Mark Gill from the College of Science and Engineering and Digital Badging featuring Dr. Kannan Sivaprakasam from Chemistry and Dr. Plamen Miltenoff from University Library.

Interdisciplinary Applications of Artificial Intelligence Emphasizing Public Safety earns 2021 Shark Tank Open Funding

St. Cloud State's Interdisciplinary Applications of Artificial Intelligence Emphasizing Public Safety: A Multi Campus Collaboration to Develop and Offer a Minnesota State System Wide Course on Applications of Artificial Intelligence across the Criminal Justice System collaborative course, pitched by Dr. Lindsey Vigesaa, Dr. Mary Clifford, and Dr. Katie Richardson Jen from Criminal Justice Studies, was also awarded grant funding at the 2021 Shark Tank Open.