PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is inviting ninth through twelfth graders across the Keystone State to participate in their seventh annual Innovations Challenge.

PennDOT says the challenge encourages students to use problem-solving, creativity, and strategic-thinking skills to solve real-world transportation problems in a competition against their peers.

This year students will be asked to develop a plan for the replacement of an aging multi-lane roadway. Participating students need to find a way to reconnect previously separated neighborhoods and incorporate community needs, such as accommodating bicycle and pedestrian traffic, business development and smooth flow of traffic.

Students will also need to factor in additional costs in their proposed solutions.

“The transportation planners of the future are key to reestablishing communities that have been disconnected by infrastructure,” PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said. “I’m confident we will see some fresh and creative approaches for PennDOT to consider as we continue working to address this long-standing issue.”

Regional winners will be able to present their solutions to the PennDOT Secretary and a panel of judges. The judges and the secretary will then select a statewide winner.

This year’s statewide winning team will win an award of $4,000 comprised of donations from the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania.

“PennDOT is always looking for bright minds to join our team. I hope that participation in the Innovations Challenge will help steer a cohort of students to the possibilities of a future career in the transportation industry,” Carroll said.

Students interested in learning more about the challenge can go to

The submission deadline is Jan. 26, 2024.