Team from Reach Cyber Charter School Named PennDOT Regional Innovations Challenge Winner


​HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced that a team of students from Reach Cyber Charter School, based in Harrisburg, has been selected as the PennDOT District 8 winner for its sixth Innovations Challenge.

Mentored by teacher Karen McGahee, team members include Starlynne Santiago (Philadelphia, Philadelphia County) and Jenna Kargus (Halifax, Dauphin County).

The PennDOT Innovations Challenge invites high school students from around the Commonwealth to develop creative solutions to real-world transportation challenges. The goal of the Innovations Challenge is to help students explore actual challenges PennDOT and the transportation industry is facing as well as consider the possibility of working in the industry following graduation.

Since being announced last October, students across the state have been diligently developing creative and strategic solutions to a real-world transportation challenge. This year, teams were tasked with selecting one of Pennsylvania’s interstate corridors where truck parking is a known issue and develop an innovative approach to increase commercial truck parking availability in that area and offset costs incurred for construction. 

“Pennsylvania is a critical freight corridor for commercial drivers bound for destinations across the continent,” said Mike Carroll, Acting Secretary of Transportation. “It’s inspiring to see the next generation of problem-solvers approaching the issues of today with the creativity and ingenuity of tomorrow.”

The winning regional team presented their idea of Car-go Duo, an idea that embraces capacity increase, partnerships such as the P3 initiative, and educational awareness.

“It does not get more ‘real-world STEM’ than this,” said McGahee. “The parking issue for trucks is a pervasive nationwide problem that has a direct impact on our society. Due to the limited knowledge on this topic, the students had to conduct extensive research to gain a comprehensive understanding of the problem and its associated constraints. As district finalists, the students’ collaborative efforts and unwavering dedication have enabled them to explore and propose viable solutions. Their success in this competition has ignited a sense of enthusiasm within them, as they look forward to representing their district at the state level.”

Regional Innovations Challenge winners will present their solutions to Carroll and a panel of judges in Harrisburg later this month, where a statewide winner for 2023 will be determined. For this year’s challenge, the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of PA (ACEC/PA) are providing a combined total award of $4,000 to the statewide winning team.

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