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Erica Terrini

Traffic Control Device Challenge winners announced at TRB Annual Meeting

Students from across the nation participated in ATSSA-TRB competition to address ‘Connected and Autonomous Innovations for Improving Work Zone Safety’

Second-round finalists of the Traffic Control Device Challenge presented at the TRB Annual Meeting on Jan. 13. Only three concepts were selected to be presented at ATSSA's 50th Annual Convention & Traffic Expo.

ATSSA, in partnership with the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB), honored the winners of the ATSSA/TRB Traffic Control Device Challenge (TCD Challenge) on Jan. 13.

Engineering students from across the U.S. competed in the TCD Challenge, which was titled: “Connected and Autonomous Innovations for Improving Work Zone Safety.”

In 2016, approximately 158,000 crashes occurred in U.S. work zones, resulting in approximately 61,000 injuries and 780 fatalities. These statistics include motorists traveling through work zones and highway workers who maintain and rebuild roadways.

While improving work zone safety has been a focus of the competition for many years, Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) innovations provide new opportunities to alert motorists, warn workers, mitigate crashes, and get everyone home safely. CAV technologies may also change the design and set up of work zone traffic control, navigation through work zones, and conduct of the job within the work zone.

The objective of the 2020 TCD Challenge was to devise an innovative connected and/or autonomous traffic control solution to help improve work zone safety. Both vehicle- and non-vehicle-based systems were considered.

“Being able to co-host this competition with TRB not only allows ATSSA to present a pressing issue within the industry and conjure potential solutions, it also provides us the opportunity to encourage young minds to get more involved within the roadway safety industry and look ahead to possible future innovations,” said Eric Perry, ATSSA director of Innovation & Technical Services. “This year, challenge winners addressed a serious concern within the industry and we hope their ideas resonate with all those involved with roadway safety.”

Finalists from across the nation were evaluated for the awards during the January TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Following a second round of selections, the first, second, and third place winners were announced. The top three finalists will present their concepts to the roadway safety industry – and nearly 3,500 guests – during ATSSA’s 50th Annual Convention & Traffic Expo, held from Jan. 24-28 in New Orleans. If attending the Association's annual event, don't forget to hear presentations from the award winners in the exhibit hall at the ATSSA Pavillion (Booth #940) on Monday, Jan. 27. The winning teams will also receive cash prizes and plaques for their submissions.

The winners include:

1st Place ($1,500)
Title: “’Connected’ Temporary Traffic Control Devices”
Student: Travis Larson
School: Oregon State University

2nd Place ($1,000)
Title: “Active Connected Work Zone Variable Speed Limit Warning System”
Student: Nusayba Megat-Johari
School: Michigan State University

3rd Place ($500)
Title: “Crash Preventive Cell Phone Holder”
Student: Ellie Lee
School: University of Minnesota

Participants in the contest included students from high schools, community colleges, college or graduate students, or teams of students with an interest in transportation. All submissions were original designs or modifications to industry-accepted designs or products.

A panel of TRB experts judged entries based on the ability of the idea to address a specific roadway problem, how easily it would be understood by all road users, its applicability on a nationwide basis, and its feasibility for implementation. For more information about the 2020 competition, email Perry at

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