“The Blues” gain recognition for plans to innovate transportation


Photo sourced from the PENDOT Website

Editor’s Note: The writer of this article is a member of “The Blues” team.

Since 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been conducting a statewide competition for teams of high school students. This year, as part of the “Innovations Challenge” competition that deals with real and modern transportation issues, teams had to find a viable and plausible solution to the department revenue insufficiency, improve their reputation, and educate Pennsylvanians. 

Hill’s own team, “The Blues,” was selected as a regional winner.  The team is composed of team captain Eddie Proffitt ’22, Juan Hinostroza ’21, Rohan Dondeti ’21, and Andres Arevalo ’22, with Athey Family Master of History Chris Chirieleison as an adviser. 

After the initial proposal, regional winners were selected and invited to display their idea

to judges. A statewide winner will be selected from the pool of regional winners and awarded with certificates and an engraved trophy. 

“We believe that PennDOT can take advantage of the ever-expanding market of online advertisement and apps to provide a new revenue source and reach Pennsylvanians,” Hinostroza said regarding the ideas behind their proposal. 

The PennDOT competition is not the only challenge for “The Blues”; they are also part of the boys varsity squash team. “What makes this group so special is that they are so much more than just teammates, they are brothers. Together they push each other to greater heights and are constantly seeking excellence in everything they do,” Director of Squash Chanel Erasmus commented on the team.

“The four of us are already used to working together as a team, and we all have similar goals, which made it easier to arrive upon efficient and innovative ideas,” Dondeti said. 

Speaking on the team’s goals, Proffitt stated, “We are looking forward to being young innovators and learning more about what that looks like as we approach adulthood. We’re grateful for the opportunity to participate in this challenge and for our supporters.”

The team presented their project to three regional PennDOT staff serving as judges on Feb. 26. Their proposal is against seven teams for the district 6 spot in the statewide final phase of competition. The regional winner will be announced on March 5. 

More information about the competition can be found on PennDOT’s website:  https://www.penndot.gov/about-us/PennDOT2020/Pages/Innovations-Challenge.aspx

Update: March 16. The below message was published in March 12’s Today on The Hill.

PennDOT Announces Regional Innovations Challenge Winners
King of Prussia, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced the student teams from Lower Moreland High School, in Lower Moreland Township, Montgomery County, and The Hill School, in Pottstown Borough, Montgomery County, have been selected as the PennDOT District 6 winners for its fourth Innovations Challenge. The Hill School team members include Edward Proffitt, Rohan Dondeti, Andres Arevalo, and Juan Hinostroza.
Since last fall, students have been working hard to solve this year’s challenge that asked students to develop an innovative and implementable solution that helps address Pennsylvania’s transportation revenue shortfall by identifying potential new funding streams, aside from additional gas taxes, tolls, or mileage-based user fees, to help ensure adequate transportation funding for the future.
The Hill School presented the Pa Road Rewards for the challenge. This creative idea would utilize an app and website where users sign-up for a membership subscription to gain access to games testing their transportation safety knowledge, in return for rewards, while also allowing sponsored advertisement within the app to help generate funding.
Regional winners will now move on to compete virtually in Harrisburg for the state championship.