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PennDOT Announces Regional Innovations Challenge Winner


King of Prussia, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced the student team from Downingtown High School East in Downingtown Area School District in Downingtown Borough, Chester County, has been selected as the PennDOT District 6 winner for its fifth annual Innovations Challenge.

The Downingtown High School East team, mentored by Oliver Bradley, includes students Yajat Gupta, Rishi Attarde, Chaitrali More, and Rohan Patel.

Since last fall, students have been working hard to solve this year's challenge. Taking Pennsylvania's diverse demographics into consideration, this year's Innovations Challenge asked students to develop a comprehensive and cost-effective public engagement strategy, beyond the current public engagement procedures (outlined in detail in Publication 295) that uses innovative technologies and tools that PennDOT can implement to more effectively engage and connect with all age groups during the transportation planning and project development process.  

"Public engagement is vital to PennDOT's transportation planning and project development efforts," said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. "However, it can be challenging to bridge technology and generational gaps to ensure everyone is engaged and involved as we plan for transportation improvements."

Downingtown High School East team's innovative idea involved the public having easy access and reaching as many demographics as possible to help plan and develop transportation projects in their communities. For example, allowing the public to have digital access to project surveys using QR codes placed in Department of Motor Vehicle centers, public transportation centers, school districts, municipalities, and other public settings, while using a shopping rewards incentive to gain more participation. They have also designed a plan to reach demographics that may not utilize technology as often.

"District 6's four finalist teams presented creative and inspiring ideas to help PennDOT engage the public more in its transportation planning and project development efforts," said Lou Belmonte, PennDOT Acting District 6 Executive. "Each teams' thoughtfulness in making sure all demographics are reached demonstrates that transportation planning can involve all stakeholders."

Now in its fifth 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.

Regional winners will now move on to compete virtually in Harrisburg for the state championship.

For this year's challenge, the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of PA (ACEC/PA) are providing a combined total award of $4,000 to the statewide winning team.

For complete Innovations Challenge details, visit and click on Innovations Challenge.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Robyn Briggs, 610-205-6799

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