PennDOT Names Innovations Challenge Winner

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently noted that a team of students from Monroe Career and Technical Institute took home top honors as the statewide winner of its 2021-2022 Innovations Challenge.

[Above photo by PennDOT]

Since the fall of 2021, teams of high school students in grades nine through 12 have been working hard to solve the specific “challenge” posed by this yearly contest.

For the 2021-2022 competition, student teams sought to develop a “comprehensive and cost-effective” public engagement strategy, beyond the current public engagement procedures – outlined in Publication 295 – that uses innovative technologies and tools to help PennDOT more effectively engage and connect with all age groups during the transportation planning and project development process.

Yassmin Gramian. Photo by PennDOT.

“Each year, the PennDOT Innovations Challenge allows us to turn to the next generation of leaders to become an active part of proposing potential solutions to the challenges we face,” noted PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian in statement.

Mentored by Ross Ruschman, the winning members of the Monroe Career and Technical Institute team are Neylla Joseph, Kyle Jarrett, Brittany Ulate-Mora, and Gavin Glukhoy.

Their proposed innovative solution was the “PaEprogram,” which stands for “Excite, Educate and Engage.” The PaEprogram uses existing technologies to enhance communication between PennDOT and its key stakeholders, while also getting citizens involved in PennDOT’s planning and project development process.

It uses map applications such as Waze and Google Maps to provide notifications about proposed road projects, similar to how those sites show accidents and current construction projects.

Now in its fifth year, the Innovations Challenge aims to not only help students explore real transportation challenges that PennDOT is facing, but also open their minds to the very real possibility of working for PennDOT or in the transportation industry after graduation.

For 2021-2022 challenge, the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors provided $2,500 and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania provided $1,500 for a combined total winning prize money of $4,000 for first place team.

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