DOT launches national University Transportation Centers Program

The intent is to improve the mobility of people and goods across the country.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced funding for its University Transportation Centers Program.

As part of that effort, the Center for Freight Transportation for Efficient and Resilient Supply Chain will be housed in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Center for Transportation Research. Funding is for $2 million a year for five years. Focus of the Center will be freight transportation system design, planning, operations and innovations in national and global supply chains through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer activities.

More than 231,000 Tennesseans are employed in the transportation, logistics and distribution industry at more than 13,800 establishments, including FedEx and Amazon’s Operations Center. Additionally, annual freight volume in the U.S. is expected to increase by 50% to almost 29 billion tons by 2050.

The future of mobility

“The state of Tennessee plays a critical role in the U.S. freight network, and UT is committed to conducting transformational work in future mobility in support of both new technology advancements and the creation of a skilled workforce for Tennessee and the nation,” said UT Vice Chancellor for Research Deb Crawford.

As the lead in this effort, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will partner with Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois Chicago, Oregon State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and California State University, Long Beach.

“I am thrilled to be partnering with other institutions to effect change for this critical sector,” said Mingzhou Jin, John D. Tickle Professor in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering, who will lead the center. “Together we will develop innovative technologies and solutions that maximize the capacity of existing roadway infrastructure, ensure the just-in-time delivery of goods that support America’s retail and manufacturing economy, and by doing so enhance supply chain resiliency.”

UT will also be a partner institution in two other University Transportation Centers announced: the Center for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety, led by the University of New Mexico, and the University Transportation Center for Regional and Rural Connected Communities, led by North Carolina A&T State.

“I am delighted that our researchers were instrumental in the award of three new University Transportation Centers,” said Kevin Heaslip, director of UT’s Center for Transportation Research and Future Mobility Initiative. “Our engagement puts our program in the country’s upper echelon of transportation research. The current momentum in our programs will lead to additional growth in the future as we continue to build research capacity and amplify the impact of our research outcomes.”

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