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Executive Summary

The University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program is an alliance of universities; federal, state, and local governments; and private enterprise to produce the ideas and highly educated professionals that our Nation needs to maintain and continuously improve our transportation systems.

The University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program is a strategic investment in the Nation’s transportation knowledge base. This investment produces a superior national capacity in the men and women who are educated and conduct research in transportation. These professionals are employed by public agencies and private businesses, thereby ensuring the professional capacity needed to maintain and improve our transportation systems.

The United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) has enjoyed a fruitful and long-standing relationship with universities, as authorized through various statutes since 1987. This report is a snapshot of the UTC program authorized in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users of 2005 (P.L. 109-59, SAFETEA-LU). It highlights a small selection of the many contributions UTCs have made to the Nation in transportation research, education, and technology transfer from 2005 to 2007.

The UTC Program has evolved from 10 regional centers in 1987 to 60 centers in 42 states in 2005. SAFETEA-LU significantly increased the total number of UTCs and established five categories with funding levels ranging from $500,000 to $3,500,000 annually. Managed by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the UTC Program has a multimodal focus with a strong track record of university research and education on surface transportation modes. A separate university aviation research program, Centers of Excellence Program, is managed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Through the UTC Program, the US DOT contributes to the goals set forth by the American Competitiveness Council to improve America’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs.

A UTC is typically a center within a university that leverages the academic programs and research capabilities of the university to educate transportation professionals, conduct basic and applied research on transportation problems, and transfer research results to end users. Each UTC uses a strategic plan developed at the onset of the federal grant to conduct education, research, and technology transfer activities. The strategic plan sets the framework for research selection and implementation, undergraduate and graduate education activities, and transportation stakeholder participation and outreach.