Skip Navigation LinksDOT > About Us > PennDOT 20/20 > Innovations Challenge

Innovations Challenge

penndot 20/20 logo

The PennDOT Innovations Challenge is a statewide competition that challenges students in ninth through 11th grade to use their problem solving, creative, and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges. Students work together in teams of up to four to help PennDOT solve transportation challenges facing Pennsylvania as well as other states. Regional winners will be selected at each of PennDOT's 11 Engineering District Offices in late winter. Those winners will then move on to the statewide competition where an overall champion will be selected in the spring.

Think you have a solution? Give the PennDOT Innovations Challenge your best effort!

2017 Challenge

Every hour, about 15 reportable traffic crashes occur in Pennsylvania. Though we have made positive steps toward reducing traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities, a disproportionate number of these crashes involve teenagers. PennDOT is dedicated to promoting safe-driving actions (e.g. no texting, work zone safety, and anti-aggressive driving) through traditional media — like the radio, newspaper, and television — and social media.

Aside from using traditional paid advertising, marketing, and social media channels, what technologies or innovative methods can be developed in the next five to 10 years to curb unsafe teen driving practices?


Project & Submission Guidelines

Students must work together in teams of 3-4 students and submit their innovative solution to the PennDOT Bureau of Innovations email account. The submission must include an attachment containing the project title and description of no more than 500 words, outlining the team's concept. Along with the project description, all submissions must include the following information: team name, full names of team members, faculty mentor name, school district, and county.

Each PennDOT district will evaluate the submitted projects and select up to five district finalists who will be invited to present their projects in person at the PennDOT district office. If your team is selected as a finalist, models, diagrams, videos, and other visual aids or supporting materials should be used to demonstrate the team's project to the district judges. Final presentations should be no longer than 15 minutes. One winner will be selected in each PennDOT district who will then move on to compete in Harrisburg as part of the statewide competition where one statewide winner will be selected.

The challenge is open to Pennsylvania high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in public, private, or charter schools, and homeschooled students.

Family members (that is, siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews) of PennDOT employees are ineligible to enter.



All submissions, including the description of no more than 500 words, must be emailed to by 5 p.m. Jan. 31, 2018.


Process and Timeline

Local PennDOT district judging for initial submissions will occur no later than Feb. 28, 2018, and districts will notify finalists on or before that date. Finalists will present their projects in person to a PennDOT district panel of judges no later than March 30, 2018.

Each district's winning team (11 total) members will receive a certificate and will move on to the next round and present their project in Harrisburg before the PennDOT Secretary and her panel in April 2018.

Each team member of the winning team will receive a certificate and the winning school will receive a traveling trophy engraved with the school's name.


Criteria and Judging

  • Effectiveness – 10 points
    • Does the solution apply to the work performed by PennDOT?
    • Could the solution be used by PennDOT without substantial revisions?
    • Does the solution address a problem that can be solved with the technology that is available today or being discussed as possible within the next five to 10 years?
    • Does the solution include a proposal for continued operation (long-term maintenance) after implementation?
  • Benefits to the community – 10 points
    • Does the solution serve the community?
    • Does the solution improve safety to the traveling public?
    • Does the solution improve communications and/or interactions between PennDOT and the community?
  • Cost savings – 10 points
    • Would the solution save Pennsylvania taxpayers or the traveling public money?
    • Does the solution demonstrate indirect cost savings?
    • Are the cost savings sustainable (i.e. does this project save money in the short- or long-term)?
  • Innovation – 10 points
    • Does the solution inspire transportation progress?
    • Does the solution introduce an original or advanced concept?
    • Does the solution introduce a new or advanced product, business model, field, etc.?
  • Presentation – 10 points
    • Were the presentation materials submitted completely?
    • Is the solution presented in a captivating manner?
    • Is the solution presented with clarity and forethought?
    • Did the presenters discuss all aspects of the solution from formulation through execution?
    • Did the group members answer questions from the judges completely, logically, and personably?
    • Did the solution's brief write-up contain a clear, complete, and well-organized summary of the project?


Contact Information

For questions or more information, email PennDOT at The above project and submission guidelines are also available in PDF format.