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Haverford School students win statewide PennDOT Innovations Challenge
Haverford School students win statewide PennDOT Innovations Challenge

A team of students from The Haverford School has been selected as the statewide winner of The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) inaugural Innovations Challenge.

"Since last fall, students have been working hard to solve this year's challenge," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards, who visited The Haverford School June 1 to present the award. "My personal thanks to all who took part in the PennDOT Innovations Challenge this year. I am impressed by all of the innovative ideas we received to help make Pennsylvania a safer place to be."

Launched this school year, the PennDOT Innovations Challenge is a statewide competition that called on teams of students in ninth through 11th grade to use their problem solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve a specific real-world transportation challenge. Students were asked to look at technologies and innovative methods, aside from traditional paid advertising, marketing, and social media channels, that can be developed in the next five to 10 years to curb unsafe teen driving practices.

Mentored by Holly Golecki, Upper School science teacher and Director of Robotics, statewide winning team members include Haverford School juniors Yiheng Chen, Mickey Fairorth, Aram LaVan, and Will Vauclain. The team's innovation is an app called "Attentidriver" that uses a smart phone's accelerometer, gyroscope, and front facing camera combined with a machine learning program to provide real-time and long-term feedback to drivers, parents, PennDOT, and insurance companies.

The app can detect real-time speed, acceleration, lane changes and drifts, and therefore monitor the frequency and quality of the teen's driving behavior and focus; sending alerts when unsafe driving practices are recognized.

Seven regional winners were selected from 71 total entries to move on to compete in the statewide competition on April 24 in Harrisburg. Winning teams presented their solution to this year's challenge to Richards and a panel of PennDOT judges who selected the statewide winner.

"I commend The Haverford School for their innovative solution to this ongoing problem," Richards said. "I am impressed with their efforts and encouraged for the future knowing that bright young minds share the department's passion for safety."