Traffic Control Device Challenge winners honored at ATSSA’s 50th Anniversary Convention & Traffic Expo

Contact: Maria Robertson

ATSSA Director of Marketing & Communications



Traffic Control Device Challenge winners honored at ATSSA’s 50th Anniversary Convention & Traffic Expo

Students address ‘Connected and Autonomous Innovations for Improving Work Zone Safety’

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (Jan. 27, 2020) – The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), in partnership with the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB), honored the winners of the Traffic Control Device Challenge (TCD Challenge) today during a ceremony at the Association’s 50th Anniversary Convention & Traffic Expo.

Taking first place was the Oregon State University team of Travis Larson, Cameron Bennett, Dylan Horne, Joe Neils, and Amy Wyman. Second place went to the Michigan State University team of Nusayba Megat-Johari, Meghna Chakraborty, Qiuqi Cai, and Hadis Nouri. Ellie Lee of the University of Minnesota placed third.

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

“ATSSA has taken great strides in investing in our young industry professionals in recent years,” said Eric Perry, ATSSA director of Innovation & Technical Services. “It is imperative to bolster the future of roadway safety and infrastructure and that is a theme within all of our initiatives.”

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 roadway 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.

“Working with all of the 2020 TCD Challenge applicants and being able to see their innovative ideas was inspiring,” said Melisa Finley, research engineer for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “As we move forward in this world of automation and connectivity, our young engineers will play a crucial role in fine-tuning Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and making our roadways safer.”

Participants in the contest included students from high schools, community colleges, college students 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 the 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.

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. Those teams presented their concepts as part of ATSSA’s 50th Annual Convention and Traffic Expo, held from Jan. 24-28 in New Orleans. The winning teams received cash prizes and plaques for their submissions. For more information about the 2020 competition, email Perry at

The winning entries:

1st Place ($1,500)

Title: “’Connected’ Temporary Traffic Control Devices”

Overview: “A ‘Connected’ Temporary Traffic Control Device is an MUTCD-based sign located upstream of a work zone that pushes upcoming road work conditions to CAVs as they pass, thereby alerting the driver, as well as the vehicle, to either help the human driver, or instruct the vehicle itself, to make a change in driving behavior or navigation.”

2nd Place ($1,000)

Title: “Active Connected Work Zone Variable Speed Limit Warning System”

Overview: “This design solution proposes enhancing information display for work zones with variable speed advisory message through an active and connected display system. The system proposed includes a smart switch that triggers an intelligent warning system for a work zone location. The warning system is activated by first-worker-in and last-worker-out or through remote activation similar to mobile apps.”

3rd Place ($500)

Title: “Crash Preventive Cell Phone Holder”

Overview: “Crash Preventive Cell Phone Holder is a standard wireless phone holder that can charge phones, and alert drivers to keep the appropriate distance with the vehicle ahead. Moreover, it tells drivers to drive with caution and lower speed when passing the work zone.


ATSSA’s core purpose is to advance roadway safety. ATSSA represents the roadway safety industry with effective legislative advocacy and a far-reaching member partnership. The association also leads the nation in work zone safety training and education for roadway workers across the country. ATSSA members accomplish the advancement of roadway safety through the design, manufacture, and installation of road safety and traffic control devices. Visit to learn more.

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