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PennDOT Announces Northwest Region Innovations Challenge Winner


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that a team of students from the Farrell Area High School in Mercer County has been selected as the PennDOT District 1 winner for its second annual Innovations Challenge.

Team members include Camryn Gipson, Kayla Bello, and Rachel Owens. They are mentored by teacher Kim Kladitis.

Since last fall, students have been working hard to solve this year’s challenge, which asked students to look at innovative methods, aside from laws and educational campaigns, that can be developed in the next five to 10 years to get drivers to slow down in work zones.

“Every day, construction workers on Pennsylvania roadways face a dangerous threat in work zones,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Despite increased enforcement efforts, work zone signage and smartphone alerts, drivers continue to commit traffic violations in work zones, which can lead to crashes or tragically someone being killed. We challenged our next generation of leaders to become an active part of the solution by developing innovative ways to tackle this transportation issue.”

The winning regional team’s innovation was Pingers, a proposed technology that utilizes the E-ZPass system to help monitor and encourage safe traffic speeds in work zones.

Now in its second year, the PennDOT Innovations Challenge invites high school students in grades 9-12 to use their problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges. The Innovations Challenge aims to not only help students explore actual transportation challenges that PennDOT is facing, but also open their minds to the very real possibility of working for PennDOT after graduation.
“The Innovations Challenge offers PennDOT a unique opportunity to engage the next generation of drivers in the process of increasing roadway safety,” said Jim Foringer, P.E., District Executive for PennDOT District 1. “Students from northwest Pennsylvania presented a range of innovative and emerging technologies that could assist with that effort in the coming years.”
A total of five groups presented ideas in the regional competition, chosen from 16 written entries submitted earlier in the year. Other schools represented at the second level of the regional competition were Franklin High School in Venango County and Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie County.

Regional winners will now move on to compete in Harrisburg on April 10 for the state championship. The statewide winning team will be awarded $1,500 from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to be divided among team members.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Jill Harry 814-678-5035

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Farrell Area High School team giving their Innovations Challenge presentation.

Student participants in the Innovations Challenge stand for a group photo.