The Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems at The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Engineering was selected to be part of a research consortium funded by a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Tier One University Transportation Center (UTC) program.
The UTC program was cut this year from 60 transportation research centers down to 22, making the competition for funding especially fierce. Of the 22 slots, only 10 were designated for Tier One centers, which can operate on a national level, rather than being limited to regional or transit-related issues.
“This grant will bring the experts from UTEP and our other partners to address the complex and challenging issues that face the efficient renewal and maintenance of our vast transportation infrastructure such as roads and bridges,” said Soheil Nazarian, Ph.D., director of UTEP’s Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CTIS) and a civil engineering professor. “This shows the track record of CTIS as a major player in the area of evaluating, maintaining and managing different elements of transportation infrastructure.”
UTEP is a member of a UTC known as the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT). CAIT's consortium of research university partners includes Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Columbia University; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Princeton University; the University of Delaware; the University of Virginia; Utah State University; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
“The real winners of this collaboration are our students who will be interacting with their peers from our prestigious partner universities to solve very real and complex problems,” Nazarian said. “The resources provided by this grant will improve our capabilities to bring our civil engineering graduate program to Tier One status.”
The focus of CAIT is to solve pressing problems regarding the upkeep and improvement of the country's transportation infrastructure. Researchers from partner institutions will conduct scientific research on critical infrastructure challenges our country faces now and in the future: public safety and security, infrastructure health monitoring and rehabilitation, mobility, congestion, shipping, asset management and economics, and the reduction of impact on the environment.
Submissions for the grant were judged on research capability and track record, results and effectiveness at applying research to solve real-world problems, education and workforce development, and demonstrated leadership, collaboration and diversity.