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Celebrating 30 years of excellence and service in northern New Jersey.


TransOptions Celebrated 10 Years of H2
 
Time flies when you're having hydrogen-powered fun!  Earlier this month, TransOptions celebrated 10 years of bringing hydrogen-powered STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning to life for students who competed at the TransOptions’ Hydrogen Fuel Cell (H2) Model Car Challenge. 

In total, nearly 100 students from 12 area schools were given the unique opportunity to design and build cars that harness hydrogen power. On December 7th at New Providence High School, their designs were judged for speed, engineering, craftsmanship and their progress journal.  

We would like to thank all our volunteers who helped make H2 a success! It could not have been possible without you and we appreciate that you took time out of your personal schedules to help us promote STEM learning in the state. 

The main goal of the H2 Challenge is to promote technology in education and foster student interest in STEM learning. 

“STEM education is critical for the success of our youth in today's competitive technological age,” said John F. Ciaffone TransOptions’ President. "Hosting the Challenge is an integral part of our ongoing commitment to support environmental education and inspire high school students to explore careers in engineering and science."

Awards were presented to the winners at the conclusion of the races in the categories of speed, progress journal, craftsmanship and engineering.

 
The winners were:

Speed
1st Place – Aqua Cart 2.0, Piscataway High School
2nd Place –  MK2, Morris Knolls High School
3rd Place – MK1, Morris Knolls High School
 
Progress Journal
1st Place – Kit 2, Kittatinny Regional High School
2nd Place – Plain & Simple, Union County Magnet High School
3rd Place – Accelerator, High Point Regional High School
 
Craftsmanship
1st Place – Aqua Cart 2.0, Piscataway High School
2nd Place – Accelerator, High Point Regional High School
3rd Place – Sparkly, Sparkly Rainbows, Union County Magnet High School
 
Engineering
1st Place – Accelerator, High Point Regional High School
2nd Place – Sparkly, Sparkly Rainbows, Union County Magnet High School
3rd Place – Kit 2, Kittatinny Regional High School
 
Visit TransOptions.org to learn more about our free Environmental Education programs.  To participate in next year’s Challenge, contact Kristen Tomasicchio at (973) 267-7600 or ktomasicchio@TransOptions.org.

A Year in Review: So Much to Be Thankful For!
 
The year 2016 was a big year for TransOptions and one to always be remembered. This end of the year is a popular time to reflect on accomplishments of the past months and create ways in which we can continue to grow moving forward. 

In recognition of what we are thankful for, we would like to invite you to join us as we list memorable highlights of 2016!
 
30
TransOptions celebrated 30 years of excellence and service in northern New Jersey. During the last 30 years, TransOptions has evolved beyond its original 1986 charter to promote carpooling/vanpooling to a Transportation Management Association (TMA) featuring varied programs. 

15
TransOptions celebrated 15 years of hosting Junior Solar Sprints. This popular Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) program was the biggest one yet! JSS has grown in size and scope from 8 schools and 451 students from Morris, Sussex and Warren counties to 63 schools and nearly 5,000 students from an expanding geography that includes Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

10

2016 marked the 10th year for TransOptions' Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge. In total, nearly 100 students from 12 area schools were given the unique opportunity to design and build cars that harness hydrogen power.
 
  
1,331

This year, we distributed well over 1,000 Junior Solar Sprints kits. We would like to thank our generous sponsors for helping us make this popular event possible: Pitsco Education, 3M, Alcoa Foundation, The FirstEnergy Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation and ThorLabs. In addition to generous sponsors, we also have generous donors like you to be thankful for! Looking ahead, the cost of 63 kits for JSS in 2017 has been covered so far through generous donations collected during the global charity event #GivingTuesday on November 29,2016. 


987
In one year, TransOptions has provided 987 children in northern New Jersey with bike helmets. We offer free bike helmets at select events and our free Learn to Ride sessions as we properly fit them on each child for safety.


55
TransOptions is proud to acknowledge the 55 Smart Workplaces in our area. Through the prestigious New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) program, TransOptions annually recognizes employers for promoting commute alternatives for their employees. Employers earn the NJSW designation by offering sustainable workplace practices including conducting on-site transportation events, supporting the formation of carpools and vanpools, providing bicycle racks, offering flextime or teleworking and making transit schedules readily available.

3
The pedestrian safety campaign Street Smart was brought to 3 towns in this year alone. Street Smart is a public education, awareness and behavioral change campaign that uses high visibility enforcement, education, and grassroots public awareness to address pedestrian safety issues. Since it began in 2015, we have worked with 5 towns in our area: Washingtown Township and borough, Newton, Morristown, Summit and Phillipsburg. (Summit and Phillipsburg final reports will be coming soon!)


41,122,202
Total miles saved through our vanpool program. In working with commuters, TransOptions aims to improve air quality and the overall quality of life through reduced traffic congestion and stress. 


32,951,692

Pounds of Carbon Dioxide emissions reduced in 2016 through our vanpool program. 

But most of all, we are thankful for YOU--our partners, sponsors and volunteers! Your constant support has helped us reach these significant milestones and create paths for more innovation and growth for years to come!

Record-Breaking Number of Travelers This Holiday Season

AAA projects more than 103 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this holiday season, an increase of 1.5 percent compared with last year. With a record-breaking number of people expected on the roads, it's especially important to remember to drive safely. 

The following are some great tips to keep in mind in case old man winter strikes where we go:
  • Reduce your speed to counteract the traction lost due to the slick road surface
  • Increase your following distance, compared to when you drive in clear, dry conditions
  • Be smooth when accelerating, turning and braking
  • Be prepared by having a fully-stocked emergency kit aboard
  • Keep your tank at least half full
  • Ensure your tires have plenty of tread and are properly inflated

Thank You to Our #GivingTuesday Donors
 
TransOptions would like to thank YOU for supporting our environmental education programs this Giving Tuesday!
 
Because of your kind donations, the cost of over 60 kits were covered for New Jersey middle school students to participate in our Junior Solar Sprints next year! We couldn't have done it without your generosity and support!

THANK YOU!


P.S. Even though Giving Tuesday has passed, it is still the season of giving! If you would like to "Fund a Kit, Fund a Kid"...it's not too late! Please click here to make a gift today. 
 

Up-Close with Christopher Didden, TransOptions Board of Directors Member
 
Each month, we  highlight a member of our Board of Directors and this month we're interviewing Christopher "Chip" Didden. 

-Please tell Go Smart! readers a little bit about yourself/ what do you do for a living?   
My wife and I both grew up in Richmond, Virginia and lived there until 2000.  I am a Virginia Tech alumni and our family loves to watch VT football each fall.  In 2000 I had an opportunity to work for a small IT consulting firm in Flanders, NJ so we decided to move to New Jersey. This was a great experience allowing me to work with a variety of telecom and pharmaceutical companies.  My specialty is data and information architecture which may sound painfully dry to your readers, but there is a lot of excitement in data!
 
For the last 12 years I have been working for Solix Inc., a company based in Parsippany, NJ.  My role is Solutions Architect, which allows me to work with business development, information technologies, and our operations team.  Solix provides business outsourcing for eligibility processing.  This type of work is needed when a benefit is available to qualified applicants.  Solix works to determine if applicants are qualified for the programs funding and the eligibility decision is made.  An example is the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program we administered.  After Hurricane Sandy, businesses that sustained damage due to the storm could apply for up to $50k in grant money to rebuild.  Solix managed the application and review process for the NJEDA.  In the process we qualified hundreds of NJ small business to receive over $200M in federal funds.                                                                                                                                                                             
-How did you first become involved with TransOptions?  
Solix is always trying to be a proactive member of the North New Jersey community.  We became members many years ago to help our employees and neighboring commuters find safe and economical routes to work.  When the opportunity came for me to join as a board member, I was honored and gladly took on the responsibility.  
 
-What do you enjoy most about being a part of this organization? 
I enjoy feeling like what I do helps others.  At Solix we help people every day.  TransOptions has the same goals in mind with their mission.  If they are helping reduce traffic for commuters or teaching kids how to be safe when walking to school, it all helps build a stronger community.  Being a part of such great organizations is what makes me most proud.
 
-What do you think makes TransOptions special? 
TransOptions is one of the most diverse small organizations I have ever worked with.  They do so much wonderful work for the Northern New Jersey residents with an incredibly tight budget.  The management team has worked very hard to put together a top notch staff of experts and everything they do comes across as first-class.  I cannot say enough positive things about the staff and how much they accomplish with the resources available.  I think "creative" is a great way to categorize everyone’s approach to problem solving at TransOptions.
 
-What has been your favorite volunteer experience with this organization? 
I have a technical background, and a keen interest in building and design.  Having helped work with the Hydrogen Challenge sponsored by TransOptions was really an eye-opening experience.  This event, for those unfamiliar, is a race of small cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells.  TransOptions provides high schools with basic fuel cells and a few odds and ends that paired with creativity can be used to create a small car.  The teams of high school students work together to compete against their rival schools to see who’s car can outlast and win a series of heats.  Observing the students' creativity, team work, and problem solving ability showed me that providing a challenge to the kids can really make an impact on their desire to learn.
 
-What do you wish other people knew about TransOptions? 
TransOptions has so many great resources that are available at little or no cost.  The key is connecting and partnering with the team at TransOptions to utilize these resources for their own community.  Street Smart is an amazing program that partners with the local police and community sponsors to change the behavior of walkers and motorists in a town.  By raising awareness for pedestrians and motorists alike, small changes can lead to reduced accidents and possibly save lives.  Programs like this can only happen if the towns and communities partner with TransOptions and commit to making positive change.

 Is Your Car Winter-Ready?
 
Winter driving is already tricky enough. But dealing with an emergency on the road without any supplies can make things exponentially trickier. Make your drive safer and easier by maintaining and stocking your vehicle with emergency essentials. 

Check these before you go:
  • Fluid levels
  • Windshield wiper operation
  • Tire pressure and tread depth
  • Battery charge 
  • Brakes
  • Cleanliness and operation of lights
  • Emergency flashers
  • If possible, always carry an extra full size spare tire
  • Stock up on an emergency kit with the essentials listed above to always have in your trunk
It's always better to be prepared and drive with peace of mind. Drive ready!

10 Amazingly Achievable New Year's Resolutions
 
As 2017 gets under way, thoughts of fulfilling your New Year's resolutions may already be fading. A University of Scranton study estimates that 40% of Americans make New Year's resolutions but only 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals. 

Commuters, TransOptions can help you be a part of the 8% and feel a sense of accomplishment all year long! It's easy with these amazingly achievable commuter New Year's Resolutions. 
  1. Don't use your cell phone while driving. even if it's hands-free, it's not risk-free.
  2. Never text while driving.
  3. Stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in crosswalks. 
  4. Remain in the right-most lane except when passing another vehicle or preparing for a left turn.
  5. Observe posted speed limits.
  6. Move over one lane for emergency vehicles on multi-lane roads. 
  7. Don't idle your vehicle for more than three minutes.
  8. Turn on vehicle lights when windshield wipers are on. 
  9. Always designate a sober driver before getting the party started.
  10. Wear a seat belt for every trip, every time no matter how quick the trip. Don't forget to buckle up rear passengers!

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones from all of us at TransOptions!
  
Our offices will be closed on Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2 in observance of the holidays.
 
Information is always available on our website:
www.transoptions.org
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Copyright © 2016 TransOptions, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
2 Ridgedale Avenue
Suite 200
Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927

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