The U.S. Department of Transportation provided more than $60 million in funding for 32 university transportation centers or UTCs on Feb. 5 around the country; consortiums of two- and four-year colleges and universities that form what the agency calls a “unique center” for a specific transportation research topic.
[Above photo by Texas A&M University.]
Working in concert, the colleges and universities involved in the UTC program – established by the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 – help “advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through education, solutions-oriented research and technology transfer, and the exploration and sharing of cutting-edge ideas and approaches,” USDOT noted.
One example of how such grants fund research that results in “real-world” transportation innovation comes from the University of Minnesota, which developed a driver-assist system that packages GPS, digital mapping, vehicle-mounted sensors, and feedback loops to help snowplow drivers keep their vehicles safely on the road – even in low-visibility conditions.
The 32 UTCs referenced above were previously selected for grants authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act.
“[USDOT] continues to invest in the future of American transportation by funding these research efforts at leading institutions of higher education,” noted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in a statement.
“UTCs advance U.S. research, technology, and expertise across modes of transportation, including in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math,” she said. “They also address vital workforce needs by training the next generation of leaders in the transportation field.”