Build a Better Mousetrap

Kansas LTAP is proud to host the Build A Better Mousetrap Competition as a platform for local agencies who have ideas on how to enhance the efficiency of their work.

What is the competition?

"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” is a famous phrase credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson in the early nineteenth century. This expression shows that even having a slightly better solution to a problem can itself be a very valuable discovery. Because the innovative ideas of local agencies and frontline workers are greatly sought after, Kansas LTAP is hosting the Build a Better Mousetrap competition. This platform is for transportation professionals to share their inventions which enhance the efficiency of everyday work and improve the overall quality of transportation. We want to see your MacGyver inventions!

How do I win?

The top three winners will be based on total costs and savings, benefits to the community and the environment, transferability, ingenuity, and effectiveness.

More Information

For questions about the competition or for more information, contact us at kutc_training@ku.edu.

Visit the FHWA website for more information about the national competition.


Interested in participating?

Submit your idea by May 31, 2022, for a chance to win! All candidates' entries will be sent to the national competition which disseminates the ideas in an electronic booklet to all LTAP/TTAP Centers. To submit your idea using the application form below.


2021 WINNER

THE PROBLEM: 
Many old wooden boxes less than bridge lengther were coming to the end of their service life. A low-cost alternative was needed.

THE SOLUTION:
"We purchase blocks from a concrete supplier, buy and salvage bridge beams. Purchase decking from auctions and supplier. We have built a dozen or so of these over the last ten years and have experienced no issues."

  • Labor: 1 week to construct
  • Materials: Concrete blocks, beams, decking material

2020 Winners

THE PROBLEM: 
Saline County Road and Bridge recognized the need for an effective way to clean out a low concrete box culvert that would be relatively inexpensive while utilizing equipment they already owned.

THE SOLUTION:
"We had an idea for a skid loader attachment that could be hauled to the project in stacked sections and assembled at the worksite on the same trailer used to haul the skid steer loader. We used a local manufacturing company to build the attachment and it cost about $4,000. The ability to clean culverts allows for the free passage of runoff and drainage waters. This saves damages to the roadway and personal property."

THE PROBLEM: 
Traffic signs like Stop and/or Yield signs get stolen or knocked down often, and must be put back up as soon as the notification is received. The individual responsible for setting it back up may not be able to find the existing hole and/or remove the stub, and cannot dig new holes without one call locates.

THE SOLUTION:
"A portable stop or yield sign can be easily transported to the site by one person. Most times, the items needed are not known, and it takes precious time to gather everything you might need. There is no need to gather supplies when responding with the portable sign. The legs adjust to level the sign in steep or uneven ditches, and an extension is used to reach an appropriate height in deep ditches. A few long stakes can tie it to the ground in high winds. We used mostly scrap posts and estimated the cost to be $50 per unit, which includes:

  • Labor: 1 hour per unit
  • Equipment: Welder, wrenches, drill
  • Materials: Square posts, 4 pins, 1 sign, 3 metal stakes, 2 U-bolts, 4 washers

Due to quicker response times to erect, the community is provided a safer intersection in a shorter time. The unit is easily transported in pickup, SUV, car, or utility vehicle. The unit is a saver for responding personnel. Employees don't have to waste time gathering possible needed materials. The unit can be set up in multiple types of terrains by one person."