HARRISBURG (KDKA)– Every year the “Innovations Challenge” asks students to look at cost-effective technologies and innovative solutions for the community.

PennDot and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have invited students, grades 9 through 12, to develop a system that can effectively control litter along Pennsylvania roadways in a safe way.

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The program encourages students to use problem-solving skills to solve real-world challenges in a competitive way.

“While we are grateful for the selfless actions of our thousands of Adopt-A-Highway volunteers, we continue to look for ways to curb the amount of roadside litter across Pennsylvania,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards.

Last year, PennDot spent almost $13 Million cleaning the roadside litter that the DEP described as an environmental problem that is a public health hazard and an eyesore.

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Officials say that the program will create fresh solutions for a longtime problem that could benefit current and future Pennsylvania residents.

Regional Innovations Challenge winners will be selected and invited to compete in Harrisburg for the state championship. The first, second, and third place statewide winning-teams will be awarded a certificate and a combined total of $3,000.

The deadline for submissions is December 20.

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For more details on the Innovations Challenge, visit www.penndot.gov/innovation.