Parking issues have bedeviled Grand Rapids Community College for decades. College officials and students have been continuously seeking solutions, and this last year they have turned again to their Innovation Team to lead the effort.Thursday night, December 8, the Armen Awards, given at GRCC’s annual innovation contest, were presented to three of the eight finalist teams for their proposals on how to reduce on-campus parking by 50% by the year 2015. The winners were Pam Scott, Leah vanHartesveldt and Doug vanHartesveldt for their idea, "Raiders Ride the Rapid!," a ride-pass partnership that would allow students to take the bus and also allow GRCC and The Rapid to compile useful information on route usage. For getting first place, the team received a $3,000 cash prize. Second place, and a $1500 prize, went to Nathaniel Shapiro, Addie Duy Dong and David Friday for "Using Hybrid Classes." A hybrid class is a combination of online tools and regular class sessions, which require fewer class sessions - so less parking is needed - but doesn't entirely eliminate the face-to-face meetings most students prefer. Third place went to Cadence Mercer-Curtis, Laura K. Byers and Mary Beth Beighley for their idea, "Community Involvement," which seeks alternative parking places and better partnership with The Rapid. The team received $750. The contest, now in its second year, has been presented by GRCC’s Innovation Team, a subgroup of its Keller Future Center. The contest has been funded by a long-time donor and college supporter Armen Oumedian. “The main campus was established almost a century ago and the layout and design pre-dated the massive expansion of the use of private transportation,” explains GRCC President Steven C. Ender, who presented the Armen Awards. “We are surrounded by businesses and residences and have very limited room for expansion of parking.” The college has made a commitment to implement the first place team’s idea each year. Last year’s winning entry resulted in changes to the employee leave forms that encourage staff to carpool to conferences and between campuses. Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.