The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that a team of students from the Northwest PA Collegiate Academy in Erie County has been selected as the PennDOT District 1 winner for its third Innovations Challenge.
Team members include LaceyJo Hunter and Destiny Krome. They are mentored by teacher James Fleming.
Since last fall, students have been working hard to solve this year’s challenge: Aside from laws, programs and educational campaigns, what cost-effective, innovative solution can be developed in the next five to 10 years to help PennDOT more efficiently, effectively and safely control litter along roadways?
“Last year, PennDOT spent nearly $13 million cleaning up roadside litter across Pennsylvania,” said Acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “These dollars could have otherwise been spent on delivering a better transportation network and making Pennsylvania a better state in which to live.”
The winning regional team’s innovation was the Litter Bug mobile application, which would give drivers and passengers the ability to record littering as it is happening and report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
“The issue of litter along our highways is multi-faceted, so the solution must be too,” said Brian McNulty, Assistant District Executive – Design and regional judge. “The Innovations Challenge is a great way for us to hear a variety of fresh ideas that will hopefully lead to a cleaner roadway system.”
Now in its third 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.
“The contest gave my students an opportunity to think creatively about a real-world problem, and some were able to present their ideas to professionals who listened with respect,” said Fleming. “This validation told my students that even though they are still in high school, they can have impactful ideas and possibly make lasting contributions to their community and state. That alone made this competition truly meaningful.”
Regional winners will now move on to compete in Harrisburg for the state championship.
The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) and the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB) organization are providing a combined total award of $3,000 to be divided among the first, second and third place statewide winning teams.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Jill Harry, 814-678-5035
Editor’s Note: Two pictures of the winners are attached.