Transportation Technology Tournament


The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) and the U.S. DOT ITS JPO PCB program announce a competition for students to work directly with state and local DOTs to solve real-world transportation problems utilizing ITS and TSMO solutions.

Student teams will assemble and work with a local or state agency to define a problem or challenge in their region, or choose to address one of the sample problems outlined below. After submitting an initial contest application identify the team and the problem or challenge, students will work with academic advisors to learn about potential ITS and TSMO solutions via online training programs outlined below. Teams will then utilize their experience, education, and new coursework to develop a solution or suite of solutions to directly address the originally defined problem. Students will submit their solutions via a proposal. Finalist teams will develop a presentation and then will be flown to the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) 2018 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis to give a live presentation in front of a panel of judges made up of leaders in the ITS and TSMO community.

Team Composition

Teams shall consist of four members minimum, six members maximum, with at least one non-civil engineer (ex. planner, electrical engineer, computer science engineer, statistician, etc.) and at least two team members younger than 26 years old. Teams must have an academic sponsor/advisor as well as an advisor from a state or local DOT or representative from a private engineering consultancy.

Problem Statements

The challenge statements below are examples of the type and breadth of problems you might address at a local or state agency. If you're unable to work with a local or state agency, up to three teams will be allowed to tackle each of the example problems below. If a problem already has three teams working on it, you may be asked to choose a different one or seek your own by working with your state or local agency.

Problem Statement #1: Pedestrian Safety: The City of Detroit was recently awarded a federal grant to evaluate and implement technology solutions for safety and connectivity in major corridors. A major initiative for this project includes pedestrian safety, including utilizing ITS and/or connected vehicle strategies. The challenge is to work with city and state transportation officials to identify potential technology solutions to increase pedestrian safety in up to four applicable corridors. Officals from Michigan and Detroit will be available to assist students should they choose this as their challenge.


Problem Statement #2: Special Event Traffic Management Along Highways and Arterials

The August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse presented a number of transportation challenges to state and local agencies who both expected and experienced a major increase in traffic to their region. Challenges included both day-of and advanced travel challenges and preparation had to take into account emergency management needs, traffic just before the event itself (in case of cloud cover), and expected congestion immediately following the event. Using the solar eclipse as a challenge, develop potential technology, planning, and safety solutions to assist both the traveling public during such an event and the transportation agency operating the roads being utilized during the event. Officials from Oregon DOT will be available to assist students should they choose this as their challenge.


We would love to include a significant challenge your agency is faced with, which students might undertake. Please submit your idea here.


Timeline and Instructions (Click headline to open)

February 15, 2018: Submit Application

Teams will submit an initial application. Each team’s application packet must include:

  • List of team members, including age and degree being pursued.
  • For each team member: One-page resume (like a private consulting firm would do when they submit a bid for a project – to show they have qualified staff) and headshot photo.
  • Formal selection of the problem. (Note: teams can submit a problem statement from their own state DOT or other public agency, and receive input and/or approval by the competition organizers.)
  • Signed waivers that allow the USDOT, NOCoE, and ITS America to use/reuse/publish photos, images, presentations, etc. in printed materials and on websites.
  • A statement of team dynamics and methodologies: how frequently they intend to meet, how they intend to take trainings, what the roles & responsibilities of each team member are, etc.

The application can be submitted here. The competition organizers will review applications to verify that teams are qualified, all application materials are included, and that application materials are complete. Teams will be notified that their application has been accepted and when/how to proceed.

March 31, 2018: Interim Check-In #1: Training, Part 1

Teams submit a packet, demonstrating their completion of the following ITS PCB courses (submission - course certificates):

April 30, 2018: Interim Check-In #2: Training, Part 2

Academic or industry advisors are also responsible for teaching students Con-Ops and ITS Civil Engineering Design. Advisors will lead the team through the following ITS Case Study Courses, found on the ITS JPO Professional Capacity Building Program:

  • ITS Case Study Course: Con-Ops (submission – course deliverable)

  • ITS Case Study Course: Civil Engineering Design (submission – course deliverable)

Teams submit a packet, demonstrating their completion of the above ITS Case Study Courses.

May 31, 2018: Interim Check-In #3: Solution Definition and High-Level Con-Op

Teams submit a 10-page packet describing their solution.  Packet will be a template, created by the competition organizers.  Packet will include:

  • Description of problem
    • Scoping the dynamics of the site and the problem, identifying requirements for solution, identifying stakeholders, etc.
  • Description of solution
    • How this could address the problem
    • Who the players are within that solution
  • Con-ops for solution, including:
    • High-level functional architecture
    • High-level physical architecture
    • High-level enterprise architecture
  • An estimate for the work needed to develop and implement the solution including:
    • Cost breakdown
    • Timeline
  • Anticipated impacts
    • Operational benefits
    • Safety benefits
    • Mobility benefits
    • Environmental benefits
    • Other benefits and risks

Judges panel will review the submissions and select finalists to go to ITE 2018 to present in person. Feedback will be given to finalists in order to stregthen their pitch at the final event.

June 30: Interim Check-In #4: Presentation

The finalists will each present a six-minute pitch for their solutions to the judges panel in a public webinar. All teams who present in the webinar will receive feedback on their presentation in preparation for the live competition.

August 2018: Live Competition at ITE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN

Finalist teams will be provided travel funds to attend the two-day event at the ITE Annual Meeting. Students will present to judges and a live audience on Day One (ten minutes per team to include four minutes for a question and answer period. Presentations will be recorded and streamed live on the NOCoE website. Judges will deliberate after the session. Day Two at the ITE Annual Meeting will hold the “Awards Ceremony” where the finalists will be recognized.


Apply Now

Submit your application here, using the guidelines and requirements above, no later than February 15, 2018 at midnight ET. Please feel free to contact Adam Hopps via email or phone (202-680-0091) with any questions in advance of submission.