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University Transportation Centers help solve nation’s transportation challenges

University Transportation Centers help solve nation’s transportation challenges

The innovations that we need to advance America's transportation system require research --research in new technologies, new materials, and new methods. And DOT is proud to work with educators, students, and researchers across the country to support our nation’s transportation goals.

Over the last 25 years, DOT has supported the crucial work done by students and faculty at America's research institutions through the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program.  And yesterday, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) announced approximately $63 million in grants to 33 UTCs to advance research and education programs addressing critical transportation challenges facing our nation, from environmental sustainability to safety. 

The participating universities play a vital role in developing both our transportation system and a professional workforce with the expertise and knowledge to tackle the transportation challenges of the future.

Photo montage of transportation modes

UTC institutions conduct research that directly supports DOT’s priorities to promote the safe, efficient, and environmentally sound movement of goods and people.  They also work with regional, state, local, and tribal transportation agencies to help find solutions to the challenges affecting their communities. And they are key to our ability to ensure a robust pipeline of professionals to replace the wave of retirements anticipated in the transportation industry over the next ten years.

This year, RITA received 142 applications, demonstrating the continued popularity of the program. 

Five national UTCs will receive $2.8 million each to address national transportation issues in line with DOT’s key strategic goals; eight regional UTCs focused on regional transportation needs received awards of $2.59 million each; and twenty additional UTCs received awards of $1.4 million each.

photo of bridge research project

These funds will support UTC programs that provide students with real opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research and to work on transportation issues with leading experts in the field.

The selected universities will research a wide range of transportation-related issues including improving health and safety for all users of the transportation system; reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts of transportation through a transition to zero-emission vehicles and fuels; and evaluating how increasingly autonomous vehicles affect driver behavior, safety and performance.

Congratulations to all of the participating universities – we’re excited to work with you solve the transportation challenges we face today and those that we know lay ahead of us.

Greg Winfree is Acting Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

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