University of Idaho Awarded Two Grants to Advance Sustainable Transportation Research

Wednesday, February 22 2012


MOSCOW, Idaho – Two grants recently received by the University of Idaho will support the efforts of university researchers to make the nation’s transportation system more sustainable.

The University of Idaho’s National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT) was recently awarded $3.5 million from the Department of Transportation to lead a national Tier 1 University Transportation Center. The University of Idaho is leading one of only ten Tier 1 Centers selected from a highly competitive pool of 46 proposals. Partners in the center are Old Dominion University, Syracuse University, Texas Southern University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). The center is a collaborative university effort to further develop technologies to improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of the transportation system.

“Research conducted at our nation’s top universities fuels our country’s economy and moves the United States forward to be competitive in a global marketplace,” said M. Duane Nellis, University of Idaho president. “Transportation touches on so many aspects of our global society and we are honored to lead this outstanding team of universities, empowered by the Transportation Department grant.”

Researchers from the five universities will study driverless intersection controls, eco-driving methods, eco-routing based on time and traffic, communication between vehicles to steady traffic flow, vehicle performance adjustments for efficient operation in controlled traffic systems, optimized freight routing, decision support tools for policy makers, and encouragement of driver behavior that reduces fuel consumption and increases safety.

“Transportation research and education are two keys to the continued vitality of our country and our economy,” said Karen DenBraven, NIATT director. “We are pleased to be selected as the leader of a group of nationally recognized transportation scholars. Our results will support the evolution of the nation’s transportation system to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

According to Ahmed Abdel-Rahim, one of the lead researchers on the grants, “these awards reaffirm the University of Idaho’s NIATT as one of the nation’s leading transportation research centers. It provides NIATT researchers the resources needed to conduct basic and applied transportation research and educational programs to help the nation achieve the goals of a cleaner environment and greater energy independence.”

NIATT also was awarded a $600,000 grant to partner in a Regional University Transportation Center led by the University of Washington. This center will focus on the diverse transportation needs of the Pacific Northwest, such as transportation safety, using data to improve traffic movement, measuring freight routing performance, and sustainability and livability for the northwest. Other regional partners are Washington State University, University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Oregon State University.

“The component to improve vehicle safety is especially important to the Idaho Transportation Department,” said Jerry Whitehead, chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board. “Our strategic plan focuses on safety, along with mobility and economic opportunity. This research aligns with our mission and goals. NIATT is so important to the future of transportation, not only in the state of Idaho, but in the Pacific Northwest.”

The research results will provide the Idaho Transportation Department with information to help implement safety and traffic improvements. In addition, regional partnerships between major universities, including U-Idaho, deepens the knowledge base for the transportation industry.

“Research collaborations with our peer institutions bring intellectual power and diversity of expertise to the areas we collectively examine,” said Jack McIver, vice president for research and economic development at the University of Idaho. “In addition, competitive research funding – and the expenditures from these important grants, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation – helps stimulate our states’ economic development by bringing in new money to our economies.”

The University of Idaho will also leverage the grant to help increase knowledge and awareness of STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. U-Idaho will focus on educating K-12 students and funding student fellowships, summer programs and workshops for industry practitioners. The research findings from the work on these grants also will be integrated into undergraduate courses at the University of Idaho.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to more than 70 additional research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.