PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian, P.E., hosted the annual PennDOT Virtual Innovation Award Ceremony in December 2021, recognizing the groundbreaking work by 48 PennDOT employees over the past year.
"As we search for solutions to our growing infrastructure needs, it is crucial that we demonstrate to our customers that we are committed to efficient and effective operations," Secretary Gramian said in her welcoming remarks. "As we continually search for the best solutions to our growing infrastructure needs, it is crucial that we empower our employees to recommend, practice and participate in the actions we must take to meet those needs.
"The innovations we celebrate today are testament to the passion of our employees and their desire to demonstrate to our customers that we are committed to efficient and effective operations," the Secretary added.
Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa J. Batula, P.E., introduced and highlighted each award winner's idea or smart practice.
"Innovation and problem solving are at the heart of what do each and every day," she said. "PennDOT is an amazing agency driven by you, our outstanding employees, who come to the job each and everyday intent on doing their very best and always looking for ways to improve."
Among the award winners included an effort to increase efficiency of the brine production in District 1 from 5,000 gallons per hour to 7,500 gallons per hour with no loss of quality or consistency; raising the exhaust outlet on PennDOT's paint trucks to prevent overheating of the paint system's compressor; switching to an electronic filing system for fuel reports to reduce paperwork and save processing times for clerical staff; and the deployment of Automated Flagger Assist Devices, which are placed at the end of work zones and can be operated by one person using a remote controller, increasing safety and saving money.
During the event, Secretary Gramian also presented the first-ever George W. McAuley, Jr., P.E., Innovation Award to District 12's Safety, Quality and Innovation Council.
The award is named for the late executive deputy secretary, who, Secretary Gramian said, "was committed to PennDOT's success and to ensuring it would aggressively pursue every innovation possible to do its job better." "This award recognizes an employee-driven team that promotes and foster innovation at all levels of the organization."
In 2021, the 26 permanent members of the council developed a plan that brought new vigor and direction along with an added focus of promoting and celebrating innovation. The plan sets forth the council's new mission to maintain a high-quality standard to implementation of innovation, new program development and Lean continuous process improvement.
"This gets to the heart of George's desire to give every PennDOT employee a seat at the table when it comes to promoting and implementing change," the Secretary said.
For more information about the award winners, please contact PennDOT's Bureau of Innovations.