Jan. 20, 2012 — Florida International University’s efforts to find traffic solutions got a boost this week.
Earlier this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $77 million in grants to 22 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the nation. The UTCs, which are located throughout the United States, conduct research that directly supports the priorities of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the participating universities are a critical part of the national transportation strategy. FIU’s Lehman Center for Transportation Research is part of three of the University Transportation Centers that received grants.
“Transportation matters in everyone’s daily life. These research centers will help us solve the transportation challenges we face today and those that we know lay ahead of us,” LaHood said.
The Lehman Center belongs to a Tier I UTC led by Georgia Institute of Technology, a Regional UTC led by the University of Florida, and a Tier I-Transit UTC led by the University of South Florida. FIU professors Albert Gan, Mohammad Hadi, and Fabian Cevallos lead FIU’s participation at the three centers.
DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), which administers the UTC program, used a competitive selection process to select ten University Transportation Centers, two Transit-Focused UTCs, and ten Regional UTCs. The centers will advance U.S. transportation technology and expertise in research, education, and technology transfer. Each one of the selected UTCs will receive a $3.5 million grant which they must match with funds from non-federal sources. The 22 UTCs selected are all consortia, involving a total of 121 different universities.
UTCs work with regional, state and local transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. UTC projects are peer-reviewed and the results of their work are shared with the national transportation community to encourage greater progress through collaboration. The selected universities will research a wide range of transportation-related issues including shared rail corridors, innovations in multimodal freight and infrastructure, bridge inspection methods, and reducing roadway fatalities and injuries.
FIU and Rutgers are the only two universities with membership in all three UTC categories. FIU College of Engineering and Computing Dean Amir Mirmiran attributed FIU’s success to the strength of its transportation program.
“For nearly two decades, the Lehman Center has served South Florida, and built strong credibility in the transportation field, from traffic safety to intelligent transportation, and from accelerated bridge construction to transportation planning and modeling,” Mirmiran said. “Our transportation student chapter also has been the nation’s most decorated in the last decade, having won numerous prestigious awards, including four Best Student Paper Awards and five Best Student Chapter Awards from the Institute of Transportation Engineers.”
The Lehman Center already has strong working relationships with transportation agencies in South Florida, including Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Districts 4 and 6, the Miami-Dade Expressway (MDX), Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), Miami-Dade Public Works, Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust (CITT), and Broward County Transit.
The Lehman Center for Transportation Research (LCTR) at Florida International University (FIU) was established in 1993 in honor of Congressman Bill Lehman and his tireless efforts to make South Florida a better place. Located in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, LCTR is committed to conducting research and training to improve transportation mobility and safety, and educating a multidisciplinary workforce to plan, manage, and implement transportation systems. LCTR is the only transportation center of its kind in South Florida — home to about a third of Florida’s 18 million population. Since its inception, LCTR has conducted numerous research projects in the areas of public transportation, GIS, transportation demand modeling, land use planning, intelligent transportation systems, transportation safety, traffic simulation, and transportation databases. The Center currently has an active staff of over 20 full-time researchers and over 20 graduate and undergraduate research assistants. With over 40 graduate students, the educational program is currently the largest in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the nation.
Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida’s anchor institutions, FIU is worlds ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission and enrolls nearly 48,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. More than 140,000 alumni live and work in South Florida. FIU is a member of the Sun Belt Conference and has 400 student-athletes participating in 17 sports. In 2010 the Panthers won their first bowl game. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/.
Media Contact: Madeline Baró