Purdue center awarded $3.5 million U.S. DOT grant for research

January 20, 2012

Srinivas Peeta

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The NEXTRANS Center at Purdue University has been awarded a $3.5 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to advance research and education programs that address the nation's critical transportation challenges.

Purdue will lead a consortium of eight other Midwest universities in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, including the private Martin University in Indianapolis.

Research will focus on issues such as technology-enabled solutions; asset management and resource allocation; data-driven analysis; transportation linkage to energy security, environment and climate change; policy and institutions; and economic revitalization and global competitiveness. 

"Through an integrated interdisciplinary outlook, NEXTRANS is developing solutions that leverage limited resources to address multiple goals in the transportation and logistics contexts, while preparing students for the future transportation workforce," said Srinivas Peeta, director of NEXTRANS and a Purdue civil engineering professor.

"In addition to seeking holistic transportation solutions, we will explore the linkage of transportation to energy security, environmental sustainability and climate change."

The Purdue grant is part of $77 million in grants announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday (Jan. 17) for 22 University Transportation Centers (UTC), which conduct research that directly supports national transportation's priorities. Awards were announced by the DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).

At NEXTRANS, several activities related to transportation workforce development will be continued and expanded, including education programs for P-12, undergraduate and graduate students, and current professionals, Peeta said.  

NEXTRANS, launched in 2006 with $13 million in total funding, has initially focused on integrating three areas: mobility, safety and infrastructure renewal with an emphasis on developing intermodal transportation systems, which are designed to efficiently coordinate the movement of freight and passengers using a combination of highways, rail, airports, waterways and pipelines. 

With $7 million in additional funding, NEXTRANS will expand its scope to address energy security, environmental/ecological concerns, climate change and transportation's role in fostering economic revitalization and global economic competitiveness.

The new NEXTRANS, refocused as Integrated and Sustainable Transportation Solutions: From Concepts to Deployment, will foster the principles of integration and sustainability in developing solutions that range from concepts to deployment in the context of policy, planning, design, implementation, operations, maintenance and management for transportation-related needs.

The DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), which administers the UTC program, used a competitive selection process to select 10 regional UTCs, which includes the Purdue-led center; 10 tier-one UTCs; and two transit-focused UTCs.

"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.

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.

These national 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.

NEXTRANS is administered by Purdue's Discovery Park and covers the U.S. Department of Transportation's Region V, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Writers: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

                Andrea McIntyre, 765-496-9734, andream@purdue.edu

Source: Srinivas Peeta, 765-494-2209, peeta@purdue.edu

Related news release: http://www.rita.dot.gov/press_room/press_releases/rita_001_12/html/rita_001_12.html

Related website:
Discovery Park