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PennDOT Announces Regional Innovations Challenge Winner


Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that a team of students from Hershey High School, Dauphin County, has been selected as the PennDOT District 8 winner for its second Innovations Challenge.

Mentored by Colette Silvestri, “Team Red Wrench” includes team members Angie Bu and Eman Asghar.

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 called “RedWrench,” which involves a vehicle being equipped with a built-in transponder and program that receives a signal from a radio beacon within a work zone. That signal then activates such safety features as slowing the vehicle to recommended speeds.

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.

"Our staff at District 8 was truly impressed with all the Innovation Challenge participants," said District Executive Michael Keiser. "Each team presented their ideas with a high level of enthusiasm, creativity, and pride as they prepared and delivered their message to improve work zone safety. Congratulations to each team and a big thank you to the school district staff who provided oversight and guidance through the process. Best of luck to Hershey and the other teams moving forward!"

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: Fritzi Schreffler, cell (717) 418-5016