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University Transportation Centers: Celebrating 25 years of innovation in transportation research and education

PDF: celebrating_25_years.pdf

25 Years of Excellence

America’s investment in transportation research and education through the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program since 1987 has paid huge dividends. Thousands of graduates supported by the UTC Program are leading, designing, building, managing, and improving our transportation enterprise, and hundreds of transportation research results supported by the UTC Program have been implemented across the United States. The intellectual infrastructure fostered by the UTC Program is a strong national asset that undergirds our ability to anticipate future transportation needs and opportunities, creates innovative transportation solutions, and informs good public policy decision making. The UTC Program’s dollar-for-dollar match requirement has leveraged Federal funds and encouraged engagement by State DOTs, corporations, and other partners. The UTC Program has increasingly emphasized coordination and collaboration among universities and their partners in State and municipal governments, K–12 educational institutions, and corporations. America’s economy and quality of life have been and continue to be enhanced by the results of the UTC Program.

Curtis J. Tompkins, PhD
UTC Program Director, 2007–2011


Internationally recognized centers of excellence, fully integrated within institutions of higher learning, that serve as a vital source of leaders who are prepared to meet the Nation’s need for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound movement of people and goods.


To advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms of education, research, and technology transfer at university-based
centers of excellence.


  1. Education: a multidisciplinary program of course work and experiential learning that reinforces the transportation theme of the Center.
  2. Human Resources: an increased number of students, faculty, and staff who are attracted to and substantively involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the Center.
  3. Diversity: students, faculty, and staff who reflect the growing diversity of the U.S. workforce and are substantively involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the Center.
  4. Research Selection: an objective process for selecting and reviewing research that balances multiple objectives of the program.
  5. Research Performance: an ongoing program of basic and applied research, the products of which are judged by peers or other experts in the field to advance the body of knowledge in transportation.
  6. Technology Transfer: availability of research results to potential users in a form that can be directly implemented, utilized, or otherwise applied.

Measuring Success

Performance Measures for UTCs funded through SAFETEA-LU (2005-2010):

  • Over 2,500 research projects selected for Federal funding using UTC grant money.
  • Over 10,000 graduate students and 6,000 undergraduate students participated in UTC-supported research projects.
  • Over 10,000 graduate students earned their master’s degrees in transportation-related fields.  
  • Over 1,500 PhD students received their degrees in transportation-related fields.
  • Over 9,000 seminars, symposia, and distance- learning courses conducted by UTCs for transportation professionals.

25 year timeline of the UTC Program

Universities That Received UTC Grants, 1987-2012

University of Akron
University of Alabama–Birmingham
University of Alabama–Tuscaloosa
University of Alaska
University of Arkansas
Assumption College
University of California–Berkeley
University of California–Davis
California State University–San Bernardino
Carnegie Mellon University
University of Central Florida
The City College of New York of the City University of New York
Cleveland State University
George Mason University
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Denver
University of Detroit Mercy
University of Florida
Georgia Institute of Technology
Hampton University
University of Idaho
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Iowa State University
Jackson State University
Kansas State University
Louisiana State University
Marshall University
University of Maryland
University of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Memphis
University of Michigan
Michigan Technological University
University of Minnesota
Mississippi State University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Montana State University
Morgan State University
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
University of Nevada–Las Vegas
New Jersey Institute of Technology
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina State University
North Dakota State University
Northwestern University
Oklahoma State University
The Pennsylvania State University
Portland State University
Purdue University
University of Rhode Island
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey
San José State University
South Carolina State University
University of South Florida
University of Southern California/California State University–Long Beach
University of Tennessee
Texas A&M University
University of Toledo
Utah State University
University of Vermont
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Youngstown State University

Students of the Year

RITA recognizes the outstanding achievements of UTC students at an annual awards ceremony during Transportation Research Board Week.  Each UTC selects one transportation student to receive a $1,000 stipend.  Selection is based on technical merit and research, academic
performance, and leadership.

Where Are They Now?

A number of UTC graduates now currently serve as elected officials, State DOT directors and deputy directors, Federal DOT managers, CEOs and Vice Presidents of engineering consulting firms, UTC directors and deputy directors, university department heads,
professors, researchers, and a regional director of an international airline corporation.

For additional information about the UTC Program, please visit

Young asian woman at bus station