DOT Opens Competition for Transportation Research Grants
USDOT announced that up to $377.5 million will be available over 5 years to support solution-oriented transportation research at colleges and universities under the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program. For Fiscal Year 2016, that’s a substantial investment of up to $72.5 million in the talent and ingenuity cultivated in American higher education.
Our colleges and universities are among the best in the world. And, since 1987, the UTC program has funded valuable academic research that contributes to the long-term safety and vitality of transportation in America. But the challenges facing our transportation system over the next 30 years are daunting.
The UTC program allows students and faculty to work together toward innovative solutions to the challenges that face our transportation system as outlined in our Beyond Traffic study. The FAST Act specifies six research priorities that UTCs selected through this competition must address: improving mobility of people and goods; reducing congestion; promoting safety; improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; preserving the environment; and preserving the existing transportation system.
The UTC program also empowers students and faculty to help solve local and regional problems that affect the communities around their own research institutions. This role has helped UTCs develop great relationships with stakeholders in government and industry; ensured that UTC students graduate with hands-on, real-world experience; and given businesses and civic organizations access to transportation expertise.
Eligible colleges and universities, including –for the first time– two-year programs, must submit a letter of intent by April 1, 2016, and an application for funding by May 13, 2016. Applicants will compete to join one of 35 UTC consortia; each focused on a major national transportation topic, such as transportation safety or freight mobility. You can find more application details at www.grants.gov.
UTCs solve problems and create problem-solvers; they extend opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, and other underserved groups who represent a largely untapped human resource. The program is built around the idea that every dollar spent supporting research projects at UTCs will continue to pay dividends in the ideas, know-how, and leadership of the graduates who go on to become innovators in the private and public sectors.
UTC graduates are now working as professionals on pioneering, state-of-the-art projects such as the Hyperloop and Space X, as well as the day-to-day operations of mass transit systems.
Even if you’ve never heard of a University Transportation Center, chances are that a UTC has had some impact on your life as a commuter, traveler, consumer, or business owner.
We’re inviting current and former UTC students and faculty to highlight some of the amazing work they’re doing—and have done—on Twitter and Instagram. Using the hashtag #AmazingUTCs, tell us…and show us…the innovative research you’re doing to make transportation better for all Americans. We’ll repost some of our favorites on official DOT social media accounts.
And, if you want to know more about the projects UTCs are working on and the fields of study offered by these programs, we also want to hear from you. Just use the same hashtag—#AmazingUTCs—to inquire about what UTCs around the country are doing and the programs they offer.