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PennDOT Announces Regional Innovations Challenge Winner


​The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that a team of students from the Somerset School District, Somerset County has been selected as the PennDOT District 9 winner for its second Innovations Challenge. 

Mentored by Homer Kreinbrook and Michael Benton, team members include: Benjamen Geary, Andrew Beachy, and Tyson Hostetler. 

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 a signal controlled governor to slow vehicles down when encountering a work zone. 

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.

“It is great to involve our younger generations in the process of thinking about safe work zones,” said PennDOT District Executive Thomas A. Prestash. “It was great to see the teams presentations and the research that went into them, an outstanding job was done by the students.”

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: Tara Henry, Press Officer, 814-696-7101