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PennDOT Announces Regional Innovations Challenge Winner


Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that a team of students from the North Allegheny School District, Allegheny County has been selected as the PennDOT District 11 winner for its second Innovations Challenge.

Mentored by Laura Prosser, team members include Isha Das and Leela Pinnamaraju.

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 an app that will allow users to see their violations in construction zones in real time, while rewarding drivers with points for good behavior and penalize violators.

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.

“Work zone safety is a top priority across the state and it was pleasure to see the creative approaches these young people took towards addressing the issue,” said Jason Zang, PennDOT District 11 Assistant District Executive of Construction. “With students like this leading the way, I am so excited to see what the future will hold for the field of transportation.”

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: Yasmeen Manyisha, Safety Press Officer; (Office) 412-429-5044, (Cell) 412-292-9357