Essay Contest

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The Mineta Transportation Institute Essay Contest invites students, grades 6-12, to propose and explore a solution to a problem centered around a specific theme each year under one or more of the following principles of transportation: sustainability, equity, safety, community, and innovation.

 

 

2023-2024 Theme:

 
More than 43,000 people die on roads in the U.S. each year and millions more are injured. Conventional viewpoints have held that road collisions are an inevitable consequence of modern roads. However, armed with the right strategies, we can stop this trend and bring these grim statistics down to zero. This is #VisionZero2030—a commitment to eradicating traffic-related fatalities and injuries by the year 2030.
 
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg called the number of traffic deaths a national crisis. Last year, the Biden Administration awarded $5 billion to the Safe Streets & Roads for All to promote safety for all road users, particularly vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists. Despite these efforts, the heartrending reality persists—on average, four lives are lost every hour, every day, across the nation due to traffic accidents. The clock is ticking, and the time for action is now.
 

Essay prompts:

  1. How does the role of urban planning and infrastructure design come into creating safer roads and reducing traffic collisions? Provide specific examples of how changes in road design can enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety.

  2. How can we empower our community and young people to make changes toward achieving VisionZero2030? What are the most effective ways to raise awareness about the importance of transportation safety among teenagers? How can this awareness be translated into responsible behaviors on the road?

  3. Explore the relationship between distracted driving and the rise in traffic collisions. What measures can be taken at the individual, community, and legislative levels to mitigate the dangers of distracted driving?

  4. Analyze the impact of cultural attitudes and societal norms about transportation modes and road safety. How can cultural shifts and awareness campaigns play a role in changing behaviors and promoting safer driving practices among different age groups and communities?

 

2022-2023 "Rethink Your Ride" Essay Winners

Group 1

Group 2

Reduction of Car-Reliance in the US Economy
By Anping Huang
Grade 9, Lynbrook High School, San José, CA
 

Public Transportation: Incentivizing Widespread Usage
By Caitlin Zhou
Grade 10, Lynbrook High School, San José, CA
 

   

Prizes and Awards!

Two winners will be selected; one from grades 6-9 and one from grades 10-12. Winners will receive $500 and $1,000, respectively, as well as certificates of achievements. All prizes must be claimed by end of the academic school year in which the entries were made. Winning essays will be published on MTI’s website and newsletter.

Ready to Participate?

Essay Requirements

For the contest, students grades 6-9 will write a 500-word-limit essay while students grades 10-12 will write a 1000-word-limit essay as a response to ONE of the essay prompts of their choosing. 

All students enrolled in grades 6-12 in public, private, and home schools within the United States are encouraged to submit. Only one submission per student is allowed.

All entries must be original work reviewed, approved, and sponsored by a teacher. We will use your sponsoring teacher as a contact for the competition should we have any questions. For homeschooled students, please contact a mentor to sponsor your writing. The teacher/mentor must complete and attach the required cover sheet. A digital signature will be approved.

Group 1: Grades 6th - 9th 

Group 2: Grades 10th - 12th 

  • Essays must be the original work of the student. Essays must be between 400 and 500 words. Include the essay prompt of your choosing at the top of the first page, then include the essay title below it.
  • The essay prompt, title, citations, and bibliography are not included in the word count.
  • Essays may be typewritten or legibly handwritten but must be double-spaced.
  • Essays and required cover sheet must be submitted in PDF format. A digital signature will be approved.
  • Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be identified properly. Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.
  • All participants must cite sources they used to research their topic throughout their essay. Please use parenthetical citations within the text. We can not accept citations in footnote form.
  • Essays must include a bibliography. Accepted formats include APA, MLA, or Turabian. You must use a minimum of two selected sources.
  • Essays must be the original work of the student. Essays can be no more than 1,000 words but must be a minimum of 700 words. Include the essay prompt of your choosing at the top of the first page, then include the essay title below it.
  • The essay prompt, title, citations, and bibliography are not included in the word count.
  • Essays may be typewritten or legibly handwritten but must be double-spaced.
  • Essays and required cover sheet must be submitted in PDF format. A digital signature will be approved.
  • Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be identified properly. Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.
  • All participants must cite sources they used to research their topic throughout their essay. Please use parenthetical citations within the text. We can not accept citations in footnote form.
  • Essays must include a bibliography. Accepted formats include APA, MLA, or Turabian. You must use a minimum of five selected sources.

 

Judging Criteria

Total points possible: 15

  1. Content - Understanding of the topic: To what extent did the writer demonstrate a clear understanding of the essay prompt and respond with details about their ideas?

  2. Material Organization & Sources - Effectiveness in presenting a point-of-view, logical interpretation of the subject - clear thesis, and supporting ideas, and factual information

  3. Vocabulary, grammar and spelling - Uses vocabulary related to the transportation industry, use of grammar and spelling

 

Important Dates

January 29, 2024 

Essay submittal deadline at 11:59PM

March 11, 2024

Winners announced and prizes coordinated with winning students

April 30, 2024

All prizes must be claimed

 

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For questions or concerns regarding this contest, please contact Alverina Weinardy.

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Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: mineta-institute@sjsu.edu