ATSSA is involved in this innovative joint initiative with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Traffic Control Devices (AHB50). Both ATSSA and TRB sponsor and conduct an exciting annual design competition, the Traffic Control Device (TCD) Student Challenge, to promote innovation and stimulate ideas in the traffic control devices area with a goal to improve operations and safety.

Guidelines for Participation

The TCD Student Challenge is open to individual students or teams of students from high school, junior college, student college or university (graduate or undergraduate) who have an interest in transportation and an understanding of traffic control devices. Students in relevant fields such as transportation-, human factors- and technology- related curricula are particularly encouraged to participate.

The TCD Student Challenge submittals will help to encourage innovation and creative thought in the transportation community. Contest participants will receive the opportunity to vet their designs in a public forum during the TRB Annual Meeting. Up to three winning submissions will receive additional recognition and be invited to the ATSSA Convention & Traffic Expo.

2025 Theme

The theme for the 2025 TCD Student Challenge is: Innovative Traffic Control Device Solutions to Improve Roadway Worker Safety.

This year’s application deadline is Oct. 1, 2024

Apply now.

Problem Statement:

Over the period from 2017 to 2021, data from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse revealed an annual average of 108,000 work zone crashes nationwide, with the number of estimated crashes ranging between 94,000 and 123,000 annually. Correspondingly, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)1 during the same time frame indicated that these crashes resulted in a total of 616 fatal worker injuries at road construction sites, with yearly fatalities varying from 108 to 135.

Roadway construction and maintenance are often carried out in complex environments near open travel lanes, placing workers at risk from construction vehicles and equipment, as well as the traveling public. Examples include:

  • Workers deploying and removing TCDs amid ongoing traffic.
  • The presence of heavy machinery operating near workers on foot.
  • Increased risk of vehicle intrusions into the workspace due to distracted or impaired drivers.

While current practices, such as complying with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and utilizing devices like intrusion alarm systems, have proven effective in improving roadway worker safety, there exists a critical need for innovative TCD solutions to further enhance worker safety.

The objective of the 2025 TCD Student Challenge is to devise an innovative approach to improving roadway workers safety through the use of TCDs. The TCD strategy can target the improvement of worker safety in various work zone operations, including construction, maintenance, and TCD setup or removal.

View this year’s theme description and guidelines.

Congratulations 2024 Challenge Winners

Following the TRB Annual Meeting where all entries were judged and three winners were selected (read more in the press release), a member from each team traveled to San Diego to present to industry professionals during ATSSA’s Convention & Traffic Expo.

TCD Challenge 2024 winners

From left, second place teammate Ernest Nsong Asiedu, ATSSA’s Melodie Matout, first place teammate Angelina Caggiano and third place teammate Saki Rezwana.

First Place: Two-member team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst won with their project entitled, “Ascending Passive Detection to Light the way of Vulnerable Road Users (GlowSafely).” The team consists of team leader Angelina Caggiano (pictured) and teammate Andy Gia.

Second Place: An Auburn University team placed second with its project entitled, “Projecting Safety: Ultra-Short Throw Devices for Nighttime Traffic Control.” The team consists of team leader Fangjian Yang and teammates Ernest Nsong Asiedu (pictured), Tonghui Li and Alex Zhao.

Third Place: A team from the University of Connecticut placed third with its project entitled, “Enhancing Nighttime Visibility for Human Drivers and CAVs through Innovative Traffic Control Devices: Integrating LED-Lit E-Paper Displays and Lidar Sensors.” The team consists of team leader Manmohan Joshi and teammates Haimanti Bala, Syed Islam, Oluwaseun Olufowobi, Prakash Ranjan and Saki Rezwana (pictured).

Resource Type

  • Presentation
  • Youth Program Resource

Topic

  • Convention & Expo
  • Events

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