By Kaylee Lindenmuth
FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - A pair of North Schuylkill students were announced as winners of PennDOT's District 5 Innovations Challenge.
Drew Mashack and Tyler Wolfgang, mentored by Kelly Stone, won the contest, which was the second held by PennDOT's District 5.
According to a media release, students had been working since the fall to look at innovative methods, besides laws and educational campaigns, that could be developed in five to 10 years to get drivers to slow down in work zones.
Mashack and Wolfgang came up with a "Personalized Digital Sign," a system of electronic signs that could be used within a work zone to inform motorists of hazards and humanized by the workers, while displaying work zone safety messages.
“Every day, construction workers on Pennsylvania roadways face a dangerous threat in work zones,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards in the release. “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.”
“I would like to thank all the schools that participated in this year’s challenge,” said PennDOT District 5 Executive Mike Rebert. “We received many innovative and imaginative entries in our region. The quality of the all the presentations is a true testament to the hard work and ingenuity of these students.”
The 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, PennDOT said.
"[It] 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 release said.
The pair will compete in Harrisburg in April for the challenge's statewide competition, and the statewide winner will be awarded $1,500 from the PA chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association.