Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition

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Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition

The Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition was instituted by former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to encourage young people to consider careers in transportation. The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has sponsored a competition every year since 2001. This competition is open to middle school classes, clubs, after-school programs, and any other youth-serving organizations.

If you are a middle-school teacher, club leader, or program counselor, you and your students can compete to win up to $1,000 for your classroom, club, or program, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to San Jose, California, to be honored at the MTI Awards Banquet. Sponsored by the US Department of Transportation, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and other industry partners, this program engages students in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) through a competition focused on sustainable transportation.


2024 Competition Theme

2024 Competition Winners

1st Place Winner   2nd Place Winner   3rd Place Winner

Kennedy Middle School, Cupertino, CA

Project: Hexa-Grooves for a safer future


William Hopkins Middle School - Team D, Fremont, CA

Project: Protecting Pedestrians at Night


Peter Hansen & Julius Cordes Elementary Schools, Mountain House, CA

Project: DriveLink - The Technology connecting thousands of cars daily

Here’s how it works

  • MTI facilitates a partnership between the middle school participants and a transportation industry professional.
  • MTI provides digital teacher guide at no cost for easy classroom lesson integration!
  • Each participating teacher helps their team create a sustainable transportation project to present to the USDOT and other transportation leaders.
  • Teams receive $50 to help with project expenses.
  • Teacher, club leader, or program counselor leading a competing team receives a $500 honorarium at the conclusion of the competition.
  • Teams review the competition prompt and choose one of the questions to explore a solution related to the year's theme. 
  • The project can be a demonstration, model, PowerPoint, or other presentation suitable for a 7-10 minute video submission.
  • Each participating team submits a 7-10 minute recording of their presentation.
  • Judges, from different transportation agencies, universities, and/or MTI affiliates will score the presentations. 
  • The winners will be announced via a virtual meeting 3 weeks after the submission deadline.
  • First-place team receives a $1,000 cash prize, a plaque, and an all-expenses-paid trip for a teacher, two student representatives, and a parent or adult guardian to San José, CA for the MTI awards banquet, annually in June.
  • Second-place team receives $500 and a plaque.
  • Third-place team receives $200 and a plaque.
  • All students who compete will receive a signed certificate of participation from MTI.

Ready to Participate?

Contact MTI's Program Liaison Susan Vinh ( for more information on how to participate and to be connected with a transportation professional!

Important Dates


View the 2023 Information Night recording.

August 19, 2024

Garrett Morgan Registration will be opened on this date by 12:00p.m.

September 25, 2024

We will host the Garrett Morgan Information Night on this date at 6:00p.m. More information to follow. 

October 23, 2024

Garrett Morgan Registration is due on this date by 11:59p.m. Please note that if you are interested in or waiting for MTI to pair your team with a transportation professional you may leave the second part of the form blank.

February 23, 2025

Ready to compete? Garrett Morgan Project Entry Form and Photo Release Form are due on this date by 11:59p.m.

March 23, 2025

Upload the final video and presentation slides to your team's assigned folder by 11:59p.m. ​Program Survey is due on this date at the same time. When all required materials have been submitted, please notify Susan Vinh ( via email. 

MTI Program Liaison will share a unique link for each team. If you have not received yours by March 22, 2024, please notify

Approved video format: MOV & MP4. 

Approved presentation slides format: .ppt, .pdf, and Google Slides link (if submitting a Google Slides link, please upload a Word document with the link and set the Slides permission so that anyone with the link can view it).

Competition Resources


2024 Video Compilation


2024 Winner Announcement


2024 Career Night


2023 Video Compilation


2021 Video Compilation


2020 Video Compilation

2019 Video Compilation
2019 Competition on Caltrans News Flash
2018 Competition

Who was Garrett Morgan?

Garrett Morgan's portraitGarrett Augustus Morgan, an African-American inventor, was born in Kentucky in 1877 to formerly enslaved people Sydney Morgan and Elizabeth Reed Morgan. The seventh of ten children, he spent long days working on the family farm. He also attended school but had to quit at age 14 to earn a living. That did not discourage him – he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, found work as a handyman, hired a tutor and continued learning. Mr. Morgan eventually moved to Cleveland and became prosperous as a sewing machine repairman with his own clothing manufacturing business that employed more than 30 people. Later, he established the Cleveland Call, a successful newspaper. 

The Gas Mask-- Saving Lives Since 1914

Garrett Morgan's gas maskHe had an excellent imagination and invented things we still use today, including a zig-zag stitching attachment for sewing machines. He also invented an early version of the gas mask. When an explosion occurred in a tunnel under Lake Erie, Mr. Morgan volunteered to rescue the trapped workers using his new invention to protect against the deadly fumes. It became an instant success, and he was given the Medal of Bravery by the citizens of Cleveland. He was nominated for the Carnegie Medal but was rejected, partly because he was black. Many fire departments wanted his gas mask, too, but they canceled their orders when they learned that a black man had invented it. So Garrett Morgan hired a white man to pretend he was the inventor, and the gas masks began to sell quickly.

Inventions That Stopped Traffic

Garrett Morgan's traffic lightAs an early owner of an automobile, Mr. Morgan thought that roads could be safer if they had a better signaling device at intersections. At that time, the roadway was used for every mode of transportation – autos, wagons, streetcars, horses, bikes and pedestrians. The existing signals said only "stop" and "go," which meant that pedestrians were left to compete with all the other traffic. So Garrett Morgan invented a hand-cranked signal that would control traffic at an intersection, and then it would stop all traffic to allow pedestrians to cross. Just before his death in 1963, the U.S. government gave him an award for his invention. 


Past Garrett Morgan Winners




2024    Kennedy Middle School Cupertino, California
2023    Hopkins Junior Middle School Fremont, California
2022    Hopkins Junior Middle School Fremont, California
2021    From the Heart Christian School Suiteland, Maryland
2020    Montessori California Project- Capitol Campus Sacramento, California
2019    Montessori California Project- Capitol Campus Sacramento, California
2018    Toddy Thomas Fortuna, California
2017    Urban Promise Academy Oakland, California
2016    Morada Middle School  Stockton, California
2015    Guntown Middle School Guntown, Mississippi
2014    Juan Crespi Middle School El Sobrante, California
2013    Juan Crespi Middle School El Sobrante, California
2012    Morada Middle School Stockton, California
2011    Monument Middle School  Rio Dell, California
2010    Kemps Landing Magnet School Virginia Beach, Virginia
2009    School Of International Studies At Meadowbrook Norfolk, Virginia
2008    Edna Brewer Middle School  Oakland, California
2007    Edna Brewer Middle School  Oakland, California
2006    Wells Middle School  Dublin, California
2005    Kemps Landing Magnet School Virginia Beach, Virginia
2004    Argyle Middle School  Silver Spring, Maryland
2003    Jones Middle School  Hampton Roads, Virginia




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