Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition

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Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition

How do we get more people to walk to school? How will we pay for our roads when people no longer pay the gas tax? Are the bike paths in your city accessible and fair for everyone?

This competition is an opportunity for kids to think critically about their world and build important problem-solving skills. If you’re a middle school student, your voice can make a difference.

Are you up for the challenge?

The Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition invites middle school students to propose innovative solutions to real-world sustainable transportation problems while engaging with science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).

This competition—open to middle school classes, clubs, after-school programs, and any other youth-serving organizations—invites students to compete to win up to $1,000 in prizes plus an all-expenses-paid trip to San Jose, California, to be honored at the MTI Awards Banquet. 

Instituted by former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, this competition encourages young people to consider careers in transportation. The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has sponsored a competition every year since 2003 with support from the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and other industry partners.

2025 Competition Theme: Get Going, Go Green

The Earth is now nearly 2°F (1.1°C) hotter than it was in the 1800s, and the world is not on track to meet the Paris Agreement target to keep temperatures down enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Water is becoming scarcer. Storms, wildfires, and other natural disasters are becoming more common and more severe. In the United States, the transportation sector is the largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to climate change, and over 94% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel. But the world is making a shift toward sustainable transportation. One of these efforts focuses on adopting electric vehicles to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our planet and our communities. Like any major change, this one comes with challenges. 

Teams, your task is to choose one of the prompts here and explore a solution that will inspire your community to Get Going, Go Green, and fund a sustainable, safe, and efficient transportation future for all.

 

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


Prizes

  • 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.

  • Videos will be published on MTI’s website.

  • Teacher, club leader, or program counselor leading a competing team receives a $500 honorarium at the conclusion of the competition.

  • Industry Mentor receives a $200 honorarium to participate.

  • Youth Mentor high school students receive a signed certificate acknowledging their contributions.

Note: All prizes must be claimed by the end of the academic school year in which the entries were made.

 

Rules & How to Participate

The steps below outline the general rules and how to participate. Each team collaborates to create a sustainable transportation project that is presented in a 7-10 minute video and submitted along with a slide deck. Check out the flowchart below for a visual representation of the process! 

How does it work?

  1. Partnership & Getting Started

The competition includes a partnership, facilitated by MTI, between the middle school participants and a transportation industry professional. MTI also provides a digital teacher’s guide at no cost for easy classroom lesson integration and $100 to help with project expenses.

  1. The Prompt & the Project

Each participating team lead (teacher, parent, club advisor, or program leader) helps their team of 3 or more middle school students create a project to present to the USDOT and other transportation leaders. The team reviews the competition prompt and chooses one of the questions to explore a solution related to the theme. 

The project can be a demonstration, model, PowerPoint, or other presentation that is then recorded with 3-5 presenters. The submission MUST include a video presentation to be scored.

  1. Submitting the Project & Judging

Each participating team submits a 7-10 minute video recording of their presentation along with a slide deck. Judges from different transportation agencies, universities, and/or MTI affiliates will score the presentations. Late submissions will be accepted up to 48 hours after the video submission deadline with point deduction. Points will also be deducted for videos that do not meet the 7-10 minute length requirement. The virtual Winner Announcement will be held 3 weeks after the submission deadline.

Ready to Participate?

Contact MTI's Program Liaison Susan Vinh (susan.vinh@sjsu.edu) for more information on how to participate and to be connected with a transportation professional!

 

2025 Competition - Important Dates 

 

View the 2023 Information Night recording.

August 19, 2024

Garrett Morgan Registration will be opened on this date by 9:00a.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 Individual Registration 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 (susan.vinh@sjsu.edu) 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 susan.vinh@sjsu.edu.

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).

 

Glossary

  • Youth Mentor - a high school student who supports the team of middle school students in organizing and polishing their project. The Youth Mentor may be selected by the team (e.g., someone already known to the middle school students via a school, club, etc. connection) or assigned by MTI.

  • Adult Team Lead - a teacher, parent, or other adult who works closely with the middle school students on their project.

  • Industry Mentor - a transportation professional paired with the team to help them develop a solution to their prompt. The Industry Mentor may be selected by the team or Adult Team Lead (e.g., via a work or community connection) or assigned by MTI.

  • Team - group of middle school students and their support members, which includes an Adult Team Lead and Industry Mentor; teams can also be supported by a Youth Mentor.

  • Program Liaison - MTI staff member Susan Vinh, who can be contacted with any questions or concerns at susan.vinh@sjsu.edu.

 

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
 
 

Judging Criteria

Judges from different transportation agencies, universities, and/or MTI affiliates will score the presentations. Judging criteria include organization, content, presentation, and overall fit with the competition goals. View the full scoring rubric, developed by professional educators and MTI staff, here

 

Resources & Links

Check below for guidelines, resources, and other helpful links. 

Click on the links in the table to jump to the resources most helpful for you.

Student Resources

Teacher Resources

Youth Mentor Resources

Industry Mentor Resources

General Competition Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

General Competition Resources 

Student Resources

On the Competition

On Writing & Presenting

On Transportation

Boy Scouts of America Resources

Teacher Resources

Youth Mentor Resources

Industry Mentor Resources

 


Past Garrett Morgan Winners

Year 

   School

Location                        

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

FAQs

Questions about Creating the Project 

  • Who is my audience?
    Your presentation should be appropriate for all audiences and written to inspire your peers and community. The judges include MTI staff, educators, and transportation professionals.

  • Can I use AI to help me?

Although large language models can be a useful tool for brainstorming and even outlining, your project must be original work created by your team. It should not be plagiarized, generated by AI, or designed/written/created by someone else. All sources should be cited.

  • Can I submit more than once?
    Each team can only submit to each contest once. You’re welcome to submit again next year!

  • Can my friend/sibling/someone else help?
    Getting feedback from peers can be very helpful. Remember, however, that the work itself must be original work created by your team. It should not be plagiarized, generated by AI, or created by someone else. 

  • Can I use ProWritingAid/Grammarly/Spellcheck to check my work?
    Any writing must be your original work and any sources cited, but yes, please do use spell check!

  • Can I use work I already made?

The work for this project must be created specifically for this contest and not previously published.

Questions about the Rules

  • How will I know if my entry has been received?
    MTI’s Program Liaison Susan Vinh sends a confirmation email once she receives and reviews an entry. 

  • Who do I contact if I have any questions?

Please reach out to MTI's Program Liaison Susan Vinh (susan.vinh@sjsu.edu) with any questions.

Questions about Judging

  • Who are the judges?
    Judges include MTI staff, transportation industry professionals, and educators. 

  • How do you decide the winners?

Judges use specifically tailored criteria developed by educators and industry professionals. The criteria includes content and presentation. You can learn more about the criteria and view the scoring rubric in the “Judging Criteria” section.

 

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CSUTC
MCEEST
MCTM
NTFC
NTSC

Contact Us

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