In AHS teacher Kambiz Vatan’s Computer-aided design courses the students are encouraged to find real-life problems and solve them in creative ways. Classmates Petru Sofio and Talia Askenazi took this suggestion to heart, and the result is a first place win in the 2023 Traffic Control Device Student Challenge. Their win is notable not only for the quality of their work, but for the fact that Petru and Talia were the first high school students to submit an entry, and the first high school team to win the top prize in the history of the competition..
This year the competitors in the Traffic Control Device (TCD) Student Challenge were asked to create a device that would create a safer street environment for vulnerable road users, i.e. anyone outside a vehicle. The intersection that caught Petru and Talia’s attention is in Arlington Center, where a traffic signal with red arrows activates to protect walkers and cyclists from turning vehicles. It was apparent that the signal was confusing to many drivers, especially those with less experience behind the wheel or of advanced age.
The winning design, “Lenticular Traffic Signal”, is a device that allows one traffic signal to relay different information to different groups of road users. For example,a driver in a right turn lane would see a red arrow, while a cyclist in a bike lane would see a green bicycle light.
The Challenge is a joint project between the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Traffic Control Devices and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA). After submitting a write-up of the device they were proposing, Petru and Talia were invited to participate in the second round of competition. The Arlington Education Foundation supported this effort by awarding the students an Innovation in Education Grant.
The pair secured their win in Washington D.C. where they presented a poster illustrating their idea accompanied by a semi-functional prototype. The next step is an all-expense paid trip to Arizona for the two winners where they will give a talk at the invitation of the TRB and ATSSA.
Congratulations Petru and Talia!